Erasing The Stigma Associated With These Conditions
“What started as a simple diet plan triggered my eating disorder,” Macey confessed. The 24-year-old battled with anorexia for eight years. “Summer when I was 15, I decided to lose weight because I thought I was fat. It all went downhill from there.”
And as she was telling her story, this one part stood out: “My friends and parents didn’t know how to reach out to me. I was very resentful of everybody especially those who judged me, who told my parents it was just part of a teenage phase I was going through and that I’d outgrow it once I mature or live independently. It hurt hearing those comments.”
Sadly, most people view eating disorders – especially in teens – as “just another phase in a teenager’s turbulent life.”It is but proper to know more about these psychological maladies to erase the stigma linked with them and better help those who are suffering.
When it comes to eating disorders, the age-old question of nature versus nurture is answered simply: it’s a mixture of both. — Deborah Klinger, MA, LMFT, CEDS
- Eating disorders can affect anyone regardless of their age, gender, even their body sizes.
While most of us may think eating maladies are a girl’s disease, it isn’t. Statistically, about 10% of the male population has been diagnosed with eating disorders. What’s more, this could be an underestimate as boys and men tend to underreport their symptoms. Additionally, bulimia nervosa is prevalent among Hispanics regardless of their economic statuses. Lastly, eating disorders can happen to anyone. You merely can’t tell a person is suffering from the condition just by looking at his physical appearance.
- Eating disorders can be deadly.
Anorexia comes in as the deadliest among all mental health disorders. Why is that?
- Anorexics are six times more likely to die compared to those suffering from other mental maladies.
- Anorexia sufferers are four times more at risk of death than those suffering from major depression.
- 1 out of 5 deaths linked with anorexia is caused by suicide.
In addition to this, death rates are also high for other eating disorders such as bulimia.
- Due to genetics, an individual may be predisposed to have an eating disorder. However, genetics alone is not the reason why a person develops the psychological malady.
One study confirmed that genes have something to do with a person being at risk of having an eating disorder. Nevertheless, it shouldn’t be pointed out as the sole reason why one suffers from it.
Dieting is the most common reason why someone falls into the eating disorder trap. Rapid weight loss caused by dieting can serve as an eating disorder trigger for some people. Once they find companionship and comfort in their condition, it’s hard to break free from its clutches. Some eating disorder sufferers also admit to feeling their stress levels decrease if they restrict themselves or binge eat then go on an excessive self-purging session after.
We think a large part of what happens when you “lose control” or change your mind about your diet in the face of a tempting treat is that survival mechanisms in the reptilian brain have been mistakenly activated and misdirected towards the treat. — Glenn Livingston Ph.D.
Other eating disorders, such as ARFID (Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder), could stem out from a scary childhood experience such as a child experiencing severe food allergies or a choking incident that made him feel fear against certain kinds of food fares.
- Eating disorders are almost always in association with other psychological problems.
A person diagnosed with an eating disorder only is rare. In most cases, it’s usually connected with other mental maladies such as personality disorders, sexual abuse history, anxiety, depression, PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), and even substance addiction.
- Finally, yes, eating disorders can be treated.
The most significant myth about eating disorders is believing that it can’t be treated and the sufferer has to deal with it all his life. This belief is not true! The earlier the intervention, the bigger the chances sufferers have in healing, recovery and, ultimately, freedom from the condition.
If you’re a parent worried that your child might be suffering from an eating disorder, act on your instincts and seek professional help. The earlier the diagnosis is, the better.
People who identify as food addicts really identify as food addicts—not dieters—and the treatment for food addiction (abstinence from certain types of foods) is the exact opposite of the treatment for chronic dieting and binge-eating (reducing restrictive eating). — Alexis Conason Psy.D.