Eating Disorders: Recognizing Signs in Others

Eating Disorders: Recognizing Signs in Others

By Kim Simone

Warning Signs of Eating Disorders

Signs of eating disorders oftentimes go unrecognized by those around the struggling individual. While eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder each have their own risks, it is critical to know that they can be fatal if left untreated for a certain period of time. Fortunately, eating disorders can be treated by mental health care providers. Supportively encouraging an individual struggling with an eating disorder to seek treatment can save their life.

Warning signs may include but are not limited to:

Behavioral Signs:

  • Skipping meals
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities
  • Refusal to eat certain foods
  • Expressing preoccupation with food, weight, nutrition, etc.
  • Consuming only small portions of food at a time

Emotional Signs:

  • Extreme concern with body shape and size
  • Extreme mood swings

Physical Signs:

  • Noticeable fluctuations in weight
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Feeling cold regularly
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Stomach cramps and other gastrointestinal issues

Seeking Treatment

It is important to seek help as soon as warning signs appear given that the chance for recovery from an eating disorder increases the earlier it is detected, diagnosed, and treated. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a commonly used psychotherapeutic approach for eating disorder treatment. It emphasizes the interaction between an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The approach is centered on shifting negative thoughts and behaviors to more positive thoughts and healthier alternatives.

The treatment for different eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder vary. During treatment, a mental health care provider can screen and treat for other underlying issues, such as anxiety and depression, as these can influence treatment outcomes. Medications can be an effective treatment option when combined with psychotherapy in treating individuals struggling with an eating disorder. Supportively encouraging an individual to seek treatment for an eating disorder can be lifesaving.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com.

Sources:

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/warning-signs-and-symptoms

https://www.yourhealthinmind.org/mental-illnesses-disorders/eating-disorders/treatment

Image Source:

https://integrativelifecenter.com/how-diet-culture-influences-eating-disorders/

Body Image: The Role of Body Dissatisfaction on Self-Esteem

Body Image: The Role of Body Dissatisfaction on Self-Esteem

By Kim Simone

Body dissatisfaction is characterized by an individual’s persistent negative thoughts and feelings about his or her body. It is commonly influenced by external factors such as societal norms and perceived pressure from other individuals. High levels of body dissatisfaction can lead to low self-esteem and ultimately lead to harmful eating and exercising behaviors.

On the contrary, having a positive body image is associated with self-acceptance, higher self-esteem, and having healthier practices in regards to eating and exercising.

The Four Primary Elements of Body Image:

  1. Perceptual body image:  the way you see your body
  2. Cognitive body image:  the way you think about your body
  3. Affective body image: the way you feel about your body (often characterized by satisfaction or dissatisfaction)
  4. Behavioral body image: the behaviors you engage in as a result of your body image (may include unhealthy eating behaviors and exercising habits)

Body dissatisfaction fluctuates throughout the lifespan and is correlated with lower levels of self-esteem. These concerns are linked with poor self-concept, which not only affects physical and mental health, but also impacts individuals socially and academically. Since body dissatisfaction often leads to low self-esteem, individuals may be at risk for developing more serious disorders. A poor self-concept, and consequently a poor body image, may influence eating behaviors, making individuals more at risk for developing an eating disorder.

Given that the chance for recovery from an eating disorder increases the earlier it is detected, diagnosed, and treated, it is important to seek help as soon as warning signs appear. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a commonly used psychotherapeutic approach for eating disorder treatment. The approach emphasizes having the individual understand the interaction and inter relatedness between his or her thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This therapy focuses on shifting negative thoughts and behaviors to more positive thoughts and healthier alternatives. Furthermore, a mental health care provider can screen and treat for other underlying issues, such as anxiety and depression, as these can influence treatment outcomes.  

If you or someone you know is struggling with body dissatisfaction, self-esteem, and/or eating disorders, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:

https://nedc.com.au/eating-disorders/eating-disorders-explained/body-image/

https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2012-14627-021

https://www.waldenu.edu/online-masters-programs/ms-in-clinical-mental-health-counseling/resource/what-is-body-dissatisfaction-and-how-does-it-lead-to-eating-disorders

Image Source:

https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/5bb5f917210000d501c88483.jpeg?ops=scalefit_720_noupscale&format=webp

The Rise of Eating Disorders in Men

The Rise of Eating Disorders in Men

By: Michaela Reynolds

Eating disorders are commonly known to only occur in women and are associated with the desire of wanting to be thin; however, eating disorders still occur in men and look vastly different from the presentation in women. Men are not looking to be thinner, but instead are trying to get muscular and bulk up. Therefore, weight-loss behaviors usually do not apply to them. Masculine body ideals are influencing men to diet and exercise in distinctly different ways than are present in women.

Researchers proposed that the most common eating disorders in men are muscularity or muscle dysmorphia, also known as reverse anorexia. The core symptom of muscle dysmorphia is the fear of not being muscular enough. Behaviors associated with this fear include compulsive exercising, disordered eating that include protein supplements and restrictive eating, and the use of enhancing drugs and steroids. Seeking treatment can be difficult but if left untreated, the eating disorder can cause emotional damage that can lead to serious physical consequences. Due to the emotional, mental, and physical damages of body dysmorphia and reverse anorexia, interventions are crucial so they can lead to a normal life. Intervention allows a male to properly heal from their eating disorder. Also, it is important to note that there is a low awareness of eating disorders in men. Public awareness needs to come in focus as eating disorders cause many dangers.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from an eating disorder, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201)368-3700 or (212)722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Sources:

https://www.healthline.com/health/eating-disorders/eating-disorders-in-men#What-do-eating-disorders-in-men-look-like?

https://www.verywellmind.com/male-eating-disorders-4140606

https://renewedsupport.org/nedawareness-week-reverse-anorexia/Rise of Eating Disorder in Men

Image:

Men & Eating Disorders: The Quiet Struggle

By: Valeria Dubon

When discussing eating disorders, many people associate it towards women and their own personal struggles with the disorder. Although women often do carry the burden of trying to look a certain way and appeal to a certain body type, many people do not realize how those same standards negatively affect men and in what ways. Some of the reasons as to why eating disorders in men are not as studied and understood compared to women are simply due to factors such as:

  • The stigma associated with males seeking help 
  • Eating disorders in men having different symptoms compared to women
  • Strong association with eating disorders and women in the media

Previous statistics indicate that men make up about ten percent of eating disorders. However, one thing to acknowledge is that many men refuse to come forward with their disorder. This in turn validates the argument that the real number of men who suffer from eating disorders is much higher.

There are several key differences when it comes to men and women suffering from this disorder. For example, males with eating disorders are at a much older age on average compared to females; they also tend to have greater risk of psychiatric problems such as anxiety/depression and engage in more suicidal behaviors. One of the most common forms of eating disorders in men is called muscle dysmorphia, which is essentially a type of body dysmorphia; its core symptom is a fear of not being muscular enough. Other symptoms associated with it may include compulsive exercise and use of supplements. 

When it comes to treatment, the biggest hurdle for men is simply getting rid of the stigma that eating disorders carry. Treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy and family based therapy are shown to be effective, both of these are also effective when dealing with women who have eating disorders.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for eating disorders, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources :

https://www.verywellmind.com/male-eating-disorders-4140606 

Eating Disorders Part 4: Eating Disorders among Asian- American Women

By: Abby Erasmus

Unique cultural values and experiences of Asian Americans can lead to the development of an eating disorder for individuals in the community. Similar to Western culture, Asian American (AA) culture idealizes the thin body and individuals face scrutiny from family members if they don’t meet this ideal; paradoxically, food is said to be the love language of Asian culture. Many AAs report being “force fed” by the same family members who criticize their weight. This creates pressure and anxiety around food, and due to this paradox, the complex relationship between food, love, and weight, bulimia nervosa (BN) tends to be the most pervasive ED in the AA community. Furthermore, AAs have to go through the process of acculturation: they must adapt to the practices and values of the dominant culture while maintaining their own. This can result in acculturative stress which is a positive predictor of disordered eating. In turn, research shows that AA college students report higher rates of restrictive eating, purging, and muscle building in comparison to their white counterparts. Also, second generation AA women report more ED behaviors than first and third generation women. This gives us insight into who is more likely to be affected within the community and what the ED behaviors are.

Different cultural values in the AA community such as interdependency, a complete reliance on the family for help rather than a stranger (therapist), and stigma surrounding mental health in general, contribute to the lack of help seeking. Further, some mental health providers are unable to recognize ED- like behaviors in the AA community as they are an under researched group when it comes to this pathology; lack of diagnosis and treatment can thus lead to poor prognosis. Once EDs are officially seen as a disorder that affects all ethnic and demographic groups at similar rates, stigma can be lessened and providers will recognize ED symptoms in this community. Again, cultural competency must be encouraged. Providers should understand the unique stressors AAs face like acculturative stress, as well as the complex relationship between food, showing love, and the idealization of the thin body. Although anorexia nervosa is prominent in the AA community, BN and binge- eating behaviors are the most common in the community; 1.50% are diagnosed with BN and 4.74% experience binge eating behaviors (See Eating Disorders Part 1 for DSM definitions). Once providers are more familiar with BED and BN, as well as the unique factors AAs face, they will be able to have culturally appropriate treatment for AAs with EDs.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for an eating disorder, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources

https://www.eater.com/2019/11/19/20955556/my-discomfort-with-comfort-food

https://centerfordiscovery.com/blog/eating-disorders-and-the-api-community/

https://www.medainc.org/eating-disorders-in-the-asian-american-community-a-call-for-cultural-consciousness/

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog/anorexia-for-an-asian-american-a-recovery-story

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01950/full

https://anad.org/get-informed/about-eating-disorders/eating-disorders-statistics/

https://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.pn.2014.6b4

Eating Disorders Part 3: Eating Disorders in the LGBTQ Community

Members of the LGBTQ community experience an array of challenges that pose as risk factors in developing an eating disorder. Many members of the community experience fear of rejection from individuals they are close with and those outside their immediate circle; they often experience verbal or non- verbal violence, PTSD, discrimination, inability to meet the body image ideals within some LGBTQ contexts, internalized homophobia or transphobia, and more. These negative experiences can lead to depression or anxiety, which in turn can result in unhealthy coping mechanisms like an eating disorder. Past research indicates that about 54% of LGBT adolescents have been diagnosed with a full blown eating disorder (ED), and an additional 21% of LGBT adolescents reported they suspected having had an ED at some point in their lives. Further, about 61% of LGBT adolescents in one study reported that they had engaged in at least one disordered eating behavior in the past year. These statistics emphasize the importance of learning about the diverse, root causes of EDs within the community and how they manifest.

EDs manifest differently in the sub- groups of the LGBTQ community, and are experienced at higher rates compared to their straight or cis- gendered counterparts. In one study, adult and adolescent lesbians reported more binge eating, purging, and laxative use than their heterosexual counterparts, as well as the highest rate of binge- eating compared to any other sexual orientation. Lesbian women also report the highest rates of weight- based self- worth, while bisexual women have been found to report the highest levels of eating pathology compared to lesbian and gay men. Further, gay men report a higher likelihood of engaging in exercise with the intention of losing weight, restrictive eating, fasting, bingeing, purging, and diet pill use compared to their heterosexual counterparts. Lastly, transgender and gender- nonconforming youth seem to be at particular risk for developing an ED; this is due to all risk factors mentioned above, as well as conflicting gender identity and being dissatisfied with their body.

Despite these findings and the clear prevalence rate of such pathology within the community, and increased rates in relation to their straight/ cis- gendered counterparts, many members do not seek help. Many LGBTQ individuals fear their therapist or doctor won’t understand the unique problems within their community. In order to increase rates of treatment, we need to strive for cultural competency in which providers understand the unique experiences of LGBTQ individuals that can lead to EDs, and what EDs look like within the subgroups of the community.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for an eating disorder, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:

https://jeatdisord.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40337-020-00327-y

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/general-information/lgbtq

https://jeatdisord.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40337-020-00327-y

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/eat.23257

Eating Disorders Part 1: More than Just One Narrative

Eating Disorders Part 1: More than Just One Narrative

By: Abby Erasmus

Eating disorders don’t discriminate; about 1 in 7 male individuals and 1 in 5 female individuals experience an eating disorder by age 40. Girls as young as 8 or 9 are walking into the doctor’s office with cases of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and other types of eating disorders. Individuals regardless of race, class, gender, religion, and sexual orientation can suffer from an eating disorder (ED). EDs are an extremely serious matter; they have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses. Keeping all of this information in mind, it is extremely important to understand and acknowledge that EDs affect all demographic groups and can manifest differently within these groups. Different demographics have complex histories with different cultural backgrounds that can affect how one displays an ED, and why a group develops one. Because people are unaware that different demographic groups experience EDs, stigma often surrounds their diagnosis by both people within their community as well as outside the community. Knowing that EDs have the highest mortality rate, it is our responsibility to reduce the stigma by disseminating information about how EDs affect a wide variety of populations.

The typical narrative of an ED tells the struggle of a white, straight, cis- gender woman. This population does experience EDs, and it’s extremely important to provide them with appropriate help and support; however, this typical narrative leaves out the experience of many other groups of people with EDs and why different demographics might development them. In reality, the rates of EDs are about the same across demographic groups in the United States, but because one narrative is told, other groups are significantly less likely to receive treatment. In a series of blog posts, I will discuss how EDs affect different populations: Black women, the LGBTQ community, Asian American women, Latina Women, and men in general.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for an eating disorder, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:

https://www.state.sc.us/dmh/anorexia/statistics.htm

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/article-abstract/2752577

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/eating-disorders/anorexia-nervosa/features/changing-face-anorexia

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/people-color-and-eating-disorders#:~:text=Eating%20disorders%20have%20historically%20been,help%20for%20their%20eating%20issues.

Eating disorders: How You Can Help a Loved One with an Eating Disorder

Eating Disorders: How You Can Help a Loved One with an Eating Disorder

By: Hallie Katzman

Diet culture and body idealization are staples in society that often encourage people to overthink and become hyperaware of their body image, potentially leading to unhealthy relationships with food and exercise. Due to a combination of genetic and sociocultural factors, unfortunately eating disorders are very common and affect at least 9% of the population. Eating disorders take a strong mental, emotional and physical toll on peoples’ bodies. These symptoms can be scary or distressing for not only the person experiencing the symptoms firsthand, but also for their loved ones. Watching someone you care about struggle can make you feel helpless and worried.

Fortunately, there are supportive ways to help your loved one begin or continue their recovery journey. First, ask them if you can be involved in their eating disorder treatment to let them know that you are there for them and that you support them. Once the supportive, nonjudgmental relationship is fully established, you can consider encouraging them to go to therapy. This could mean group therapy, inpatient therapy or outpatient one on one therapy sessions with a mental health specialist. Additionally, supporting a loved one can be stressful or exhausting. Remember to take care of yourself and your own mental health as well. Be gentle towards your loved one and towards yourself and remember to not lose hope. Recovery is not always a linear process and the road to recovery may not always be easy, but it is possible.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder or other mental health concerns, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New Jersey or New York to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at 201-368-3700 or 212-722-1920 to schedule an appointment. Please visit our website http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ for more information.

Sources: https://www.rtor.org/2017/02/07/dos-and-donts-eating-disorder-recovery/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwxJqHBhC4ARIsAChq4au6fNUoIaQpHAwoyO3zvaQaUIPU4IdKB3ioYw5c3kEWhV58aJny_iEaAqtuEALw_wcB

https://anad.org/get-informed/about-eating-disorders/eating-disorders-statistics/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwxJqHBhC4ARIsAChq4atr2S1zgAy3MNj0_y9dXTNv7I6ObnrlxezDutSZg5l9CQrMwknDpQcaAlWGEALw_wcB

Image Source: https://unsplash.com/s/photos/support

Anxiety, Depression, Eating Disorders, ADHD, Et al: How to Support a Friend with Mental Illness

By: Sarah Cohen

When helping a friend with a mental illness, the first step should be assessment of their symptoms. Sometimes they just might be going through a difficult time, but if certain common symptoms associated with mental health issues persist it is imperative to respond sensitively. Majority of the time, friends will just want to know they have your support and that you care about them. A good way to show your support is by talking to them. If you provide a non-judgmental space for them to speak about their issues it will help encourage them to be open with their problems. Let them lead the conversation and don’t pressure them to reveal information. It can be incredibly difficult and painful to speak about these issues and they might not be ready to share everything. If you aren’t their therapist do not diagnose them or make assumptions about how they are feeling, just listen and show you understand. If someone doesn’t want to speak with you, don’t take it personally, just continue to show them you care about their wellbeing and want to help as much as possible. Just knowing they have support can give them the strength they need to contact someone who can help them.

If a friend is having a crisis, such as a panic attack or suicidal thoughts, you must stay calm. Try not to overwhelm them by asking a lot of questions and confronting them in a public setting. Ask them gently what would be helpful to them right now or reassure them. If they hurt themselves, get first aid as soon as possible. If someone is suicidal, contact the suicide hotline at 800-237-8255 immediately.

The best way to help someone is by connecting them to professional help. By expressing your concern and support you can show them that they can get help and their mental health problems can be treated.

If you or someone you know needs support with their mental illness, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/supporting-someone-mental-health-problem

https://www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/friends-family-members

Eating Disorders During the Holidays

By: Maryellen Van Atter

Eating disorders are psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits. There are different kinds of eating disorders, but two prevalent ones are Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. Individuals with Anorexia Nervosa restrict their food intake with the goal of reducing their weight, and have an intense fear of gaining weight. Individuals with Bulimia Nervosa engage in binge-eating sessions followed by self-induced vomiting, and experience a lack of control over their behaviors and a fear of weight gain. These disorders are very serious and can lead to physical health problems, such as poor circulation and muscle weakness. Eating disorders are also associated with other psychological disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

Eating disorders can be especially difficult during the holiday season. For many, the holiday season puts an additional emphasis on food. Holidays gatherings involve a plethora of food, and this can be extremely difficult for those with eating disorders. The emphasis of food can amplify their concerns and increase their symptom experience, worsening their mental health. This may lead to isolation or feelings of anxiety and guilt. While holidays should be about valuing the positive relationships in your life, this meaning can be lost when there is a focus on food.

There are many treatments that can help those with Anorexia and Bulimia manage their symptoms and establish healthy eating habits. One such treatment is psychotherapy, or talk therapy. There are many variations of this therapy which are successful at treating eating disorders. One is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which is aimed at changing distorted thought patterns to result in healthy behavior. Another is acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), where patients identify a value or goal and then commit to doing the actions which make that goal possible. When eating disorders are accompanied by symptoms of depression or anxiety, psychiatric medication may be prescribed to assist in the management of those symptoms.

Additionally, there are steps that one can take to prevent the relapse or worsening of disordered eating during the holiday season. If you or a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder, try to shift the focus during the holidays from food to activities, such as decorating, caroling, or playing games. This can ease the negative emotions of those suffering from eating disorders and help them feel more comfortable. It is also important to remind loved ones that it is okay to seek extra help during this difficult season.

If you or someone you know is struggling with disordered eating, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help. Please contact us in Paramus, NJ at 201-368-3700 or in Manhattan, NY at 212-996-3939 to arrange an appointment. For more information about our services, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/anorexia

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/bulimia

https://centerforchange.com/coping-loved-ones-eating-disorder-holidays/

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/types-treatment

https://www.sedig.org/physical-complications