What is an Eating Disorder?
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), eating disorders
are mental illnesses that are characterized by abnormal eating habits
that threaten a person’s physical health and well-being. Eating
disorders usually originate as some sort of obsession. Sometimes that
obsession is truly about the person’s eating habits, weight, and/or
body. Other times people that are obsessed with other aspects of their
lives start to take out those obsessions on things that they can control,
such as their eating habits and bodies.
In the United States, approximately 30 million Americans will suffer from
an eating disorder at some point in their lives. While both men and women
suffer from eating disorders, more women struggle with this type of mental
illness. In fact, according to the National Eating Disorder Association
(NEDA), about twice as many women suffer from eating disorders as men.
This could partly be due to the beauty standards placed on women. Regardless
of whether a person with an eating disorder is a man or a woman, the abnormal
eating habits of that person will vary depending on the type of eating
disorder that he or she suffers from.
Common Types of Eating Disorders
There are many different types of eating disorders. Each different type
of eating disorder is characterized by slightly different issues and eating habits.
Some of the most common types of eating disorders are described below:
Anorexia nervosa, otherwise known as just anorexia, is an eating disorder
that’s characterized by starving oneself. Many people that suffer
from anorexia develop a warped view of themselves that causes them to
see themselves as overweight even as they start to lose massive amounts
of weight and become unhealthily thin.
For instance, people with anorexia can become so thin due to their excessive
dieting that they harm their internal organs and starve themselves to
the point of death if not hospitalized and treated for their condition.
Some people with anorexia become so miserable while starving themselves
that they even commit suicide.
Bulimia nervosa, otherwise known as bulimia, is an eating disorder that
causes people to binge eat an excessive amount of food. Later, they forcibly
purge that food through vomiting, over exercising, and/or using diuretics
or laxatives. People that suffer from bulimia usually can’t control
their binge eating habits. This is because they often binge eat to cope
with life. Unfortunately, the guilt and worry about weight that people
with bulimia often feel after they binge eat later causes them to purge
their bodies of the food they binge ate in unhealthy manners.
Unlike anorexia, bulimia isn’t as obvious to the eye. This is because
many people with bulimia are still able to maintain a healthy weight.
Some of the tell-tale signs of bulimia though include behavioral changes
like not eating in front of others.
Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder is characterized by compulsive overeating. Thus,
binge eating disorder is similar to bulimia except that the people that
binge eat don’t purge their bodies afterward. Many people that binge
eat do so to cope with the stresses of life.
Because people that binge eat don’t purge their food afterward, many
binge eaters are overweight or obese. There are many people with binge
eating disorders, though, that are of a healthy weight.
Binge eating disorder is the most common type of eating disorder in the
United States. Thus, many rehab centers that offer treatment for eating
disorders and their co-occurring illnesses can help people stop binge-eating.
Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse
Because people with eating disorders tend to struggle with self-esteem
issues, distorted body image, and the stresses of life, it’s common
for people with eating disorders to use substances. In fact, although
unhealthy, the use of substances often acts as another coping mechanism
for people with eating disorders.
People with eating disorders may also start abusing substances to help
them curb their appetite.
Eating disorders and substance abuse co-occur so often that, according
to an article in Social Work Today, 50% of people with an eating disorder
also abuse substances.
Signs of Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse
There are many signs that show you whether or not a person likely suffers
from an eating disorder and substance abuse issues. These signs can be
physical or behavioral.
Physical Signs of Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse
Physical signs of eating disorders and substance abuse include anything
that hurts the body and is visible to the eye. Common physical signs of
eating disorders and substance abuse include:
- Calluses on knuckles
- Sunken cheekbones
- Blotchy or scabby skin
- Decaying teeth
- Sunken eyes
- Severe weight loss
Behavioral Signs of Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse
Behavioral signs of eating disorders and substance abuse include anything
that alters a person’s behaviors. Common behavioral signs of eating
disorders and substance abuse include:
- Inability to stop destructive behaviors even after trying multiple times
- Obsession with food and how much one eats
- Intense cravings for food
- Strict rules surrounding dieting or use of substances
- Not eating in front of others
- No longer taking part in activities that one once enjoyed because one is
spending that time obsessing over food and dieting
- Continuing to display negative eating habits despite it having negative
effects on one’s life
Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse
Making sure that you attend the right treatment for eating disorders and
any possible co-occurring substance use issues is important. Individuals
that suffer from eating disorders and substance use issues should attend
specialized dual diagnosis treatment. Dual diagnosis treatment is a treatment
program that contains a mix of
therapy sessions that will treat one disorder and therapy sessions that will treat another
disorder all at the same time.
The reason why it’s necessary to treat two disorders that a person
has such as eating disorders and substance use disorders at the same time
is that both of the disorders affect one another.
- For example, because many of the same neurotransmitters affect substance
use disorders and eating disorders and many people develop one of these
disorders because of the other one, treating them individually will only
cause the lingering disorder to cause the reappearance of the treated disorder.
On the other hand, simultaneous treatment for eating disorders and their
co-occurring substance use issues will help neither type of disorder cause
the reappearance of the other one. Furthermore, both disorders would be
securely treated. That’s why simultaneous treatment for eating disorders
and substance use issues is necessary.
Receive Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse
At Grace Land Recovery
Grace Land Recovery is a dual diagnosis treatment center located near Memphis,
Tennessee. As a dual diagnosis treatment center, Grace Land specializes
in providing treatment for eating disorders and their co-occurring mental
health and substance use disorders. If you live in Tennessee and are suffering
from eating disorders and substance abuse or any co-occurring disorder,
you should receive treatment at Grace Land Recovery.
You can also receive just addiction treatment and mental health treatment
at Grace Land Recovery. This is because our rehab center offers a wide
variety of treatment programs that are specialized for specific
substance addictions or
mental health disorders. All of our
treatment programs here at Grace Land Recovery are also individualized to fit the specific
needs of each patient.
To learn more about
Grace Land Recovery and its treatment for eating disorders and other mental health and substance
contact us today!