The pair between eating disorders and diabetes is more prevalent than one might expect. In fact, women who are diagnosed with diabetes have an increased risk of developing diabetes. Unfortunately, as a person with diabetes, eating disorders behaviors can make medical issues worse. And, lead to a number of negative side effects including death. So, identifying these conditions and learning to live a healthy lifestyle is vital to recovery for these individuals.
Diabulimia is the term used to describe the phenomenon of a person diagnosed with type I diabetes and one or more eating disorders outlined by the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders by the American Psychiatric Association). Diabulimia is a social term coined by society throughout the media and other outlets. Scientifically, the diagnosis for a comorbid eating disorder and type 1 diabetes is known as D-DMT1, Eating Disorder-Diabetes Mellitus Type 1.
In almost every case of Diabulimia, diabetes is diagnosed first. We know that those diagnosed with diabetes have an increased likelihood of eventually developing eating disorders. This may be due to the fact that managing symptoms of diabetes may include continuously monitoring food intake by examining labels, testing glucose levels, and balancing portions. This extreme and constant focus on managing food intake can lead to increased anxiety about food and eating in general. Other causes of developed eating disorders in individuals diagnosed with diabetes may include body image struggles, exhaustion from keeping up with diabetes treatments, and wanting to lose weight.
There are a few signs and symptoms one can look out for to determine if they or a loved one is struggling with diabulimia. Signs of diabulimia include both physical and emotional symptoms.
Emotional signs of diabulimia include:
Physical signs of diabulimia include:
Sadly, those are diagnosed with both eating disorders and diabetes are at risk for more than just brittle nails and vision loss. Long term side effects of diabulimia can lead to even more debilitating conditions like kidney disease, heart disease, liver disease, chronic constipation, vasovagal syncope (fainting due to loss of blood pressure), peripheral neuropathy, coma, and even death. Because of these incredibly life-threatening risks, it’s important to seek help and a life of healing as soon as diabulimia is diagnosed.
Unfortunately, women who are diagnosed with both eating disorders and diabetes may have a harder time recovering than individuals who are diagnosed with only one of these conditions. Statistics show that women diagnosed with diabetes are less likely to graduate from eating disorder treatment and obtain lasting recovery. So, it’s important to seek eating disorder treatment which includes help with managing and addressing symptoms of diabetes too.
Individuals who are living with diabulimia should get help to reduce the risk of long term side effects of the condition. However, treatment should include the addressing of both diabetes and eating disorders. Additionally, treatment should be specific due to the wide range and variety of eating disorders.
Here at Willow Place for Women, we know that every woman’s battle with eating disorders is personal. And, that each woman battles her own specific demons. That’s why we make it our goal to offer a comprehensive treatment plan as soon as each person comes to us for help that includes the medical history of concurring disorders like diabetes. This way, each woman can discover her own path to healing through the use of our educational tools, therapeutic approaches, and aftercare methods.