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Detecting Eating Disorders - By Chris Gearing

Friday, February 22, 2013

Watch Dr Sylvia Gearing describe a few ways you can detect an eating disorder - click here.

Eating disorders affect millions of Americans every year.

Not only are they painful and disruptive to productive lives, they are very difficult to overcome, especially without professional help.

But part of what makes eating disorders so challenging they are to define, especially when they are just beginning. They are on a continuum and the early symptoms are usually intermittent. It is very confusing to really understand when the disorder cross the line into something more serious.

Here are some tips to guide you in knowing when to reach out to professional help:

Unintentional:

First of all, no one who develops an eating disorder really intends to do so. At some point, there is a psychological shift that causes us to use these behaviors to manage food and to deal with stress. We often do not fully realize the impact of our behavior until we are fully involved in the eating disorder.

Progressive Slide Down:

It is usually a progressive disorder and most of us back into them using the behaviors occasionally at first. Once it becomes a habit, the slide downhill into a full blown eating disorder is difficult to stop.

Planning My Life Around Food

Since eating disorders are so addictive, they often begin to interfere with our planning of food, time, and even our social interactions. Our lives and our schedules are often built around food, and they begin to change their lifestyle to center around the eating disorder.

Justified Reasons:

Those of us who develop eating disorders are great at creating justification for our maladaptive habits, and we find it difficult to think of ourselves as unreasonable. After all, everyone says we look great! We excuse and permit ourselves to return to these behaviors repeatedly, reinforcing their presence in our lives.

Emotional Seesaw:

Many of us with eating disorders vacillate between self loathing and denial. Our emotions shift back and forth as our devotion to the eating disorder increases. Depression may become a part of our daily life as we descend into the world of the eating disorder.

Eating disorders are very serious conditions, and they can even be lethal. If you think you or someone you know may have an eating disorder, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

National Institute of Mental Health (www.nimh.nih.gov)

The work of Dr Christopher Fairburn

How Eating Disorders Begin - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe how eating disorders begin and what you should watch out for - click here.

Eating disorders are a tenacious mental health disorder that can be highly lethal if left unaddressed.

The disorder usually begins in adolescence and can last a lifetime. Current researchers recognize that the earlier the eating disorder develops, the more serious and stubborn the condition.

Society’s Message of Perfection:

One of the chief reasons that eating disorders persist is that our society continues to value being thin as a desirable characteristic, for women especially. Others who view the decreased weight as a sign of self-discipline or ambition tend to reward very thin people, often unintentionally. When the social environment is so reinforcing, the young man or woman learns to focus on external approval of appearance rather than creating a more mature, internally derived sense of self.

At a Young Age:

Another reason that eating disorders persist is that they often occur at such a young age. According to authors, Dr. James Lock and Dr. Daniel Le Grange, most cases of anorexia begin between the ages of 13 and 14 but can occur as young as 8 years old. The authors emphasize that the eating disorder usually begins casually with dieting. The progressive elimination of foods leads to pronounced weight loss and social approval, which reinforces the potentially malignant eating habits. Once firmly entrenched, the eating disorder can begin to disrupt a young person’s life with stress. Over the years, it will come and go at times of peak anxiety and challenge.

Thin Equals Power:

Tragically, weight becomes a scorecard of adequacy and many women equate being excessively thin with being in control and powerful in their own lives. The eating disorder is likely to linger into young adulthood especially if there has not been a strategic intervention by parents and psychologists. During this pivotal time, stressors that should be handled with healthy coping skills are dealt with through weight and rigid eating habits. Young men and women do not learn the coping skills required for handling food competently and for living a mature life. Instead, they are defeating stress and adversity through the eating disorder. Developmentally, they are not progressing as their same age peers and may continue to act out with food for years.

Older Women Also Affected:

Eating disorders are not only an affliction of the young. Current estimates of eating disorders in older women indicate that it is on the rise with up to 13% of older women reporting an eating disorder. The International Journal of Eating Disorders reports that 13% of women ages 50 and older stuggle with the problem and that the eating disorder may be a new phenomenon in older women. According to the author, Dr. Cindy Bulik, 79% of the women polled reported that their shape and weight affected how they viewed themselves.

Eating disorders are very serious conditions, and they can even be lethal. If you think you or someone you know may have an eating disorder, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

National Institute of Mental Health (www.nimh.nih.gov)

The work of Dr Christopher Fairburn

What Is An Eating Disorder? - By Chris Gearing

Monday, February 18, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing explain what eating disorders are and when you should get professional help - click here.

Eating disorders affect millions of people every year.

They happen to people across all socioeconomic levels, all ages, to both genders, and they can vary in intensity and duration. Fundamental to all eating disorders is the presence of unhealthy eating habits that are disruptive to a person’s health.

Eating disorders take over peoples’ lives and become central to how they define themselves. They’re often difficult to detect since they start with small changes that become large problems, and they are usually well hidden – particularly when they start. The chief reason that eating disorders begin and flourish is heavy doses of denial. They come out of nowhere and can become very serious, very quickly.

From my clinical practice, I’ve learned that patients develop their eating issues for a variety of reasons including the following:

Trauma Disorders:

Eating disorders can be triggered by a trauma like the loss of a loved one, the loss of a stable life style (like the divorce of parents or the loss of income), or an event or series of events that threatened their safety or even their lives.

Perfectionism:

The psychological need to be perfect can be overwhelming. These individuals are excessively dependent on the opinions and the approval of others. In their own minds, they are only as good as their last success.

In Control:

Some people have a relentless need to be admired and an entitlement to being the center of attention. Controlling their weight is a method of controlling others.

Affective Disorder:

In some cases, affective disorders like depression and anxiety are the basis of the eating disorder. An underlying depression can cause abnormalities in many areas of life including eating and self-regulation.

Family System:

Certain families emphasize performance and weight can become a central focus, especially in females. Issues of adequacy emerge and the eating disorder becomes a defining way to control anxiety.

Eating disorders are very serious conditions, and they can even be lethal. If you think you or someone you know may have an eating disorder, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

National Institute of Mental Health (www.nimh.nih.gov)

The work of Dr Christopher Fairburn


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