February 26 through March 4 marks this year’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week. We at Two Roads Wellness Clinic want to raise awareness and help eliminate the stigma and shame that often accompany this illness. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder and are often clouded in confusion for both the sufferers and their loved ones.
To clear up some of the common misconceptions surrounding this issue, here are a few facts about eating disorders:
Eating disorders do not discriminate! They affect men and women of all ages, races, body types, and socioeconomic statuses.
Eating disorders to not have a “look.” Just as anxiety and depression are not often visible, neither are eating disorders. Sufferers can be any shape, size or build.
Eating disorders and their associated symptoms greatly impact every area of a person’s life including their overall well-being and functioning.
Anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorders are only three of many types of eating disorders. Several others fall into the eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS) category
Eating disorders are frequently underreported due to the shame and embarrassment often associated with the behaviors. While those with severe anorexia show more obvious, physical indicators of their disease, those with other types of eating disorders may go years hiding their struggle and therefore wait years before seeking help or counseling.
The cause of an eating disorder is specific to the individual, and almost always a multifaceted condition often stemming from a combination of psychodynamic, cognitive, familial, social and biological factors. Many sufferers have endured some type of emotional, physical or sexual abuse. Physical or emotional neglect are often at play as well. Diet culture is also to blame in setting a dangerous stage for disordered eating.
There is almost always a sense of and desire for control in eating disorders. This may stem from a lack of control the individual feels in other aspects of his or her life.
Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources, Inc., and a certified eating disorder specialist, describes the role and drive of control in eating disorders as producing a feeling of power. The more the individual engages in the behaviors, the more control is felt as well as a greater sense of power.
Dr. Jantz states, “One truth that has come out about eating disorders is that people suffering from them have had significant hurt in their lives. So much of an eating disorder and disordered eating is an attempt to numb or divert pain.”
Often, those suffering with an eating disorder have cooccurring mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, self-harming behaviors, or posttraumatic stress disorder. Therefore, an effective treatment plan is multidimensional involving cognitive, behavioral, and educational elements. The American Psychological Association places great emphasis on emotion regulation and healthy interpersonal relationships as goals of therapy. A relational approach is important as the counselor focuses on therapeutic collaboration and a shared power with the client. This approach provides a positive foundation for the client whose early relationships lacked mutuality, empathy and understanding.
Any unhealthy relationship with food is an indication of a problem. It is never too early or too late to seek help if you or someone you care about is struggling with an eating disorder.
Taking that first step and reaching out for help is a scary but brave choice to make. At Two Roads Wellness Clinic, we want to help our clients find the freedom that is waiting on the other side.
To make schedule a visit or learn more today, please call us at (217) 531-4101 in Champaign or (217) 651-6801 in Danville. Or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.