For many years, it has been known that eating disorders can develop due to trauma. Essentially, when a person experiences trauma, they’re at a higher risk of developing mental health issues as a result. And, this includes eating disorders. Specifically, the development of binge eating disorder is high for those who experience trauma. So, it’s important for individuals who may be dealing with binge eating disorder to identify if trauma plays a part in their mental health issues. This way, they can get the help they need to learn how to manage their lives in a healthy way.
Identifying Trauma in Your Own Life
Before one can address trauma as it plays a part in their mental health, they must first understand what it is. Basically, trauma is the experience or collection of experiences that affect a person so negatively that it debilitates their ability to function in a healthy way. Examples of trauma can include experiencing a natural disaster, abuse, combat, a car accident, loss of a loved one, injury or illness, or being the victim of a crime or political violence. Those who have experienced traumatic situations have trouble managing emotions and may experience feelings of shame, guilt, and anxiety as the result of living through trauma. Thus, looking to medicate these feelings with various means – sometimes, overeating which can lead to the development of binge eating disorder.
Trauma and the Development of PTSD
Those who experience trauma during their lifetimes are at risk for developing PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Essentially, those diagnosed with PTSD have experienced trauma that has changed the way they live in a negative way. Historically, this condition has been associated with men and women who have been to war. When individuals came back from war, they were unable to perform daily tasks due to the severe symptoms caused by the trauma they’ve experienced. And, as a result, PTSD was discovered and recognized as a mental health condition.
Some symptoms of PTSD may include:
- Having flashbacks or nightmares of the traumatic experience
- Mood swings and irritability
- Irresponsible behaviors
- Avoidance behaviors
- Being startled easily
Understanding Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder, or BED, is an eating disorder that’s characterized by overeating to the point of discomfort. And, the uncontrollable urge to overeat large amounts of food. Thus, leading to the development of a number of negative feelings including shame, guilt, sadness, hopelessness, and sorrow. Commonly, due to these emotions, people living with BED may attempt to self-medicate by taking part in self-destructive behaviors. For example, over-exercising or purging to get rid of eaten food.
Another characteristic of binge eating disorder is eating alone. This is in attempts to hide one’s quantity of food or due to the emotions people living with BED experience. So, many people who love a person living with this condition may not even know they have it. Therefore, due to these avoidance behaviors, it’s common for people living with BED not to get the help they need.
Overcoming a Binge Eating and Trauma Dual Diagnosis
Since there is a connection between experiencing trauma and the development of eating disorders such as binge eating disorder, it’s important to understand how this connection forms. This way, individuals can address their trauma as it relates to their eating disorder behavior when getting help through treatment.
Some of the reasons many believe that BED and trauma may play off one another include:
Self-Destruction: Often, people who have experienced trauma deal with negative emotions by self-harm. They may believe that they deserve the pain or damage they’re doing to themself. And, sometimes, this self-destruction comes in the form of disordered eating.
Physical Trauma: In some cases, traumatic experiences result in physical pain. Individuals who have lived through physical trauma may experience flashbacks of the event that make them actually have to relive this pain. But, eating to the point of feeling pain may give these individuals a distraction from what they are feeling due to trauma.
Sexual Abuse: While abuse is a form of trauma itself, the side effects of living through sexual abuse can last for many years. And, change the way a woman may view herself. So, people who have experienced sexual abuse may have distorted views of their own body size and weight, lead to low self-confidence, and result in binge eating.
Emotion Management: One of the most common symptoms of PTSD is the inability to manage emotions. So, individuals who have experienced trauma may attempt to manage their emotions in unhealthy ways. Thus, leading to the development of disordered eating behaviors, like binge eating disorder.
Overcoming Binge Eating Disorder and PTSD with Treatment
Fortunately, there is help available for people living with PTSD and binge eating disorder. But, it’s important that individuals living with these disorders get help for both conditions congruently. This is because these conditions play off one another. Without getting help for one condition, healing from the other is nearly impossible.
Here at Willow Place for Women, we understand that most women living with an eating disorder are also living with concurring conditions. And, in many cases, that concurring condition is PTSD or trauma. So, we offer a dual diagnosis approach in order to help people with overcoming binge eating disorder and trauma at the same time.
To learn more about our programs for women struggling with eating disorders, trauma, and substance abuse, please contact us on our website. Or, give us a call for a confidential conversation at 1-888-651-4212.