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Eating Disorder Education

Learn More About Types of Eating Disorders

Many women who suffer from substance dependency concurrently struggle with negative body image issues, oftentimes manifesting themselves in the form of severe and life-threatening eating disorders.

Anorexia

Anorexia nervosa is a devastating and all-encompassing eating disorder, characterized most commonly by an overwhelming desire to be thin, which leads to severe calorie restriction and weight loss. It is common for those who struggle with anorexia to view themselves as overweight despite the fact that they are underweight, a distorted thinking pattern that leads to numerous medical complications and potential death. Here are several symptoms which frequently appear in those who suffer from anorexia:Education | Types of Eating Disorders | Willow Place in N.C.

  • Weighing themselves frequently
  • Expressing fear in regards to gaining weight
  • Eating very small amounts
  • Only consuming certain foods
  • Exercising excessively
  • The use of laxatives to promote weight loss
  • Forcibly vomiting after large meals
  • Denying they have an issue with food or weight
  • Becoming defensive when concerns are brought up
  • Preoccupation with calories

– Extreme weight loss
– Loss of hair
– Osteoporosis
– Infertility
– Loss of menstruation
– Heart problems

In many cases, the onset of anorexia begins with a major stress-inducing event, such as the suffering of a major loss or undergoing significant sexual or physical trauma. However, other contributing factors have been observed and noted, such as genetic predisposition, body dissatisfaction provoked by societal and cultural standards, perfectionism, and pre-existing pathological disorders. Several factors have been known to be directly connected to the development of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa.

Biological – In some individuals with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, it has been discovered that slight chemical imbalances exist within the brain. Chemicals that control behaviors related to food and eating (appetite, hunger, and digestion) have been found to be unbalanced, and eating disorders have also been found to run in families. Thus genetic factors may prove to be an additional biological factor in the onset of anorexia.

Psychological – Some psychological disorders, usually pre-existing, have been shown to potentially contribute to the onset of disordered eating patterns such as anorexia nervosa. Feelings of low self-esteem and inadequacy may lead to disordered eating, as might diagnosable psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, anger issues, or intense feelings of inadequacy and loneliness.

Interpersonal – Some individuals may experience difficulties when it comes to expressing emotions and feelings, and may suffer from troubled and strained personal relationships as a result. Those who were ridiculed or teased about their weight from an early age may also be prone to developing eating disorders, as well as those who may have suffered significant emotional, physical, or sexual abuse and trauma.

Social – It has been repeatedly found that societal standards and cultural pressures that venerate excessive skinniness contribute greatly to disordered and harshly restrictive eating patterns in both women and men. American cultural norms instill in young men and women that obtaining the “perfect body” and refining physical appearance is parallel to receiving social acceptance.

While anorexia nervosa can affect men, between 90-95% of sufferers are female. Roughly 1% of all American women suffer from this life-threatening disorder, and the majority of those who are afflicted never receive the professional help they so desperately need. In fact, anorexia is amongst the most common psychiatric disorders in young women, yet many do not check into treatment until they are much older – or they do not receive help or treatment before it is too late. Around 20% of those suffering from this devastating disorder will die. Anorexia has one of the highest death rates of any psychological disorder – including depression. The probability of death increases with the period of time that the disorder goes untreated. It is absolutely crucial that those suffering from this disorder do what they can to seek treatment immediately. For more information on anorexia treatment, please contact us at Willow Place for Women at any time.

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Bulimia

Bulimia nervosa is a serious and life-threatening disorder, characterized by compulsive and cyclical behaviors revolving around binge eating and self-induced vomiting. In some instances, bulimia and anorexia will go hand-in-hand – meaning that although the afflicted may be consuming only small amounts of food, he or she regurgitates the food soon after consumption. Listed below are several telltale symptoms of bulimia nervosa:Education | Types of Eating Disorders | Willow Place in N.C.

  • Period of consumption of large quantities of food, followed by desperate attempts to avoid weight gain (usually self-induced vomiting)
  • A feeling of being completely out of control during binge periods.
  • Intense feelings of guilt and shame after binge periods.
  • Preoccupation and obsession with body image.
  • Compulsive behaviors relating to food and eating.

While it can be difficult to predict bulimia, there are several pre-determinate factors that could potentially suggest a predisposition. Genetics may play a role, seeing as many bulimic individuals have parents or immediate family members that also struggle with behavioral addictions. There are several warning signs to look for when dealing with an individual who may be suffering at the hands of this specific disorder.

Some physical warning signs of bulimia include:
– Staining or discoloration of the teeth
– Swelling of the jaw, throat, or cheek area
– Calluses on the backs of the hands or on the knuckles (due to self-induced vomiting)
– Tiredness and fatigue
– Burst blood vessels within the eyes from excessive strain

Symptoms of Bulimia

Bulimia can be difficult to identify seeing as most of these physical warning signs can be somewhat easily masked. Teeth can be whitened, sores on knuckles due to self-induced vomiting can be avoided by the use of an instrument such as a toothbrush or popsicle stick, and exhaustion can be masked with a forced smile. There are some behavioral warning signs that may be somewhat more difficult to mask. Take a look:

– Frequent trips to the bathroom, especially after meals
– Use of laxatives and diuretics
– Evidence of binge eating – hidden food wrappers, stashed junk food
– Excessive exercising, even in the face of injury or illness
– Indications that dieting and weight-loss have become primary concerns (change in daily regime, excessive discussion on the topic, frequent weighing)
– Disinterest in previously enjoyed hobbies and extracurricular activities
– Isolation from friends and family members

Bulimia is an extremely devastating disease, one that can cause a wide array of serious health consequences in sufferers. Below is a list of some of the more frequent health-related consequences of frequent, self-induced vomiting:

– Inflammation of the esophagus, and potential rupture of the esophagus
– Irreparable tooth decay resulting from the release of stomach acids into the mouth
– Electrolyte imbalances caused by dehydration and potassium deficiency, which may lead to potential heart failure and death
– Constipation and other chronic bowel irregularities as a direct result of laxative abuse and digestive system strain
– Potential gastric rupture (this is nota common health-related consequence, but it is a possible side effect of untreated bulimia)

While bulimia does affect both males and females, roughly 80% of all sufferers are female. This specific disordered eating pattern affects between 1-2% of all adolescent and young adult women. This is one of the most difficult eating disorders to diagnose, seeing as those who are afflicted tend to be of an average body weight. Unless an individual is suffering from anorexia and bulimia simultaneously (which is exceedingly common), it may be difficult to determine that an eating disorder is present based on physical symptoms alone. However, most individuals who suffer from bulimia are aware that the behaviors they are repeatedly engaging in are both unusual and potentially extremely harmful to their health. Because symptoms of bulimia are frequently associated with depression, it is essential that underlying contributing factors are treated simultaneously. Risk of death from suicide is increased dramatically amongst those that suffer from an eating disorder and depression concurrently. Admission to an inpatient treatment facility that focuses on both eating disorders, underlying psychological disorders, and substance dependency issues has been proven beneficial for those looking to overcome bulimia. For more information on bulimia treatment, please contact one of our trained representatives today.

Eating Disorder Articles

Binge Eating Disorder

Education | Types of Eating Disorders | Willow Place in N.C.Binge Eating Disorder is by far the most common eating disorder throughout the United States, with nearly 3.5% of all women, 2% of all men, and 1.6% of all adolescents nationally being affected. Binge Eating Disorder (also known as BED) is characterized by eating large quantities of food over a brief period of time, usually to the point of physical illness and immense feelings of guilt and shame. Those who suffer from BED will not typically engage in compensatory measures such as compulsive over-exercising or purging, therefore they will typically gain an excess amount of weight and become either overweight or obese. However, being overweight is not always an indicator of binge eating disorder – some sufferers will remain at a normal weight because of an exceedingly quick metabolism. Binge eating can be severe, devastating, and potentially life-threatening – but it is always treatable. Continue reading for more information on this specific eating disorder, and for a comprehensive list of potential treatment options.

The DSM-5 lists binge eating disorder as a diagnosable and treatable psychological disorder, recognizing it as an independent eating disorder in May 2013 for the first time. The DSM-5 lists the following criteria in relation to the proper diagnosis of BED:

1. Recurring episodes of binge eating, which is characterized by eating an abnormally large amount of food over a short period of time (typically less than 2-hours). During the episode of binge eating, the sufferer will experience a sense of lack of control.
2. Binge eating episodes are associated with three or more of the below-listed criteria:
– Being uncomfortably full or physically ill from eating.
– Eating much more quickly than normal.
– Waiting until alone or in private to eat.
– Eating even when not physically hungry.
– Intense feelings of guilt, shame, and embarrassment after a binge has come to an end.
3. Clear emotional distress during a binge.
4. Binge eating periods are not accompanied by compensatory behaviors, such as compulsive over-exercising or purging.
5. Binge periods occur an average of once a week for at least a 3-month span of time.

There are many behavioral, emotional, and physical characteristics of BED. Let us take a careful look at all the determinate characteristics – keeping in mind that not every individual who suffers from BED will not display all warning signs. These features may, however, serve as a reference point in better understanding this specific eating disorder, and in eliminating BED stigmas that remain very much intact.

Characteristics of BED

Behavioral Characteristics: Those who suffer from BED will typically begin to structure their days around their binge patterns. They may stash massive quantities of food throughout their homes, steal, hide, and hoard food they intend on eating during a binge, or attempt to conceal packages and wrappers left over from old binges. They will likely make sure to eat in private, often due to the shame they feel as a result of their uncontrollable binge periods. Those suffering from binge eating disorder will likely experience a major disruption in normal eating patterns and cycles, skipping mealtimes, attempting to fast or diet, or only consuming very small portions of food during regular meals. It is not uncommon for BED sufferers to develop ritualistic eating habits, such as excessive chewing, eating only a particular food group for an extended period of time, or disallowing certain foods from touching or making contact.

Emotional Characteristics: It is not uncommon for those suffering from BED to concurrently suffer from an undiagnosed psychological disorder such as depression. Feelings of anger, intense anxiety, shame, and worthlessness are also common – especially immediately following a binge. Those afflicted with BED may have been harshly teased about their weight or ridiculed for their weight while growing up, leading to feelings of self-disgust and constant discontentment with body shape and size. Those with BED will also typically experience black-and-white thinking, issues revolving around control, perfectionism, and people pleasing.

Physical Characteristics: Because those who suffer from binge eating disorder will not engage in compensatory behaviors to counteract their binge periods, it is common that they will either be mildly, moderately, or severely overweight. However, it is important to note that weight gain is not always present where BED is – those suffering from this disorder could potentially maintain a seemingly normal weight.

Binge eating disorder affects women slightly more than men, but it remains the most common eating disorder amongst men. Roughly 60% of those suffering from BED are female, and 40% are male. Women afflicted with BED are likely to experience onset during early adulthood, while men typically experience an onset of the disorder during the middle of their lives (between the ages of 40 and 50). BED affects men and women of all demographics and all cultures, and many sufferers from across the country will report that they face an immense amount of stigma and judgment from those who lack firsthand experience. Understanding BED is crucial to continuing to provide accessible treatment. Effective, evidence-based treatment is available to those suffering from binge eating disorder. For more information on potential treatment options, please contact us at Willow Place for Women today.

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If you or someone you love is battling a severe chemical dependency, an eating disorder, or both, please feel free to contact one of our trained addiction specialists today. All calls are free and completely confidential. While we know that suffering from a severe and life-threatening substance dependency can, at times, seem insurmountable, we sincerely believe that every woman is capable and deserving of the opportunity to recover.

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