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 5: Eating Disorders among Latina Women

By: Abby Erasmus

Latina women are caught between two cultures and are therefore at risk of experiencing acculturative stress (a term discussed in “Eating Disorders: Part 4”). As mentioned previously, increased acculturative stress is linked to an increase in eating- related pathology, thus disordered eating patterns are not uncommon among Latina women. The rate of occurrence of eating disorders among Latina women is equivalent to the rate of the general population of U.S. females; however, anorexia nervosa (AN) is rarely noted in Eating Disorder (ED) studies in regard to Latina women. This does not mean AN does not exist among Latina Women, AN is just thought to be the least prevalent in the community. Researchers have found that bulimia nervosa (BN) and binge eating disorder (BED) are the most common, with lifetime prevalence rates of 2% to 2.3-2.7% respectively. Further, researchers have identified key differences in the presentation of both dietary restriction and drive for thinness in comparison to European- American white women. Latina women are less likely to engage in dietary restriction, and if they do, it is often followed by a binge- eating episode. Latina women also find themselves caught between the thin ideal belonging to Western culture and the curvy but flat- stomached ideal belonging to the Latinx community, and these conflicting body image ideals can result in disordered eating behaviors. Additionally, and quite similarly to Asian American culture, food is the love language of the Latinx community, yet, similarly to Asian American women, these women will be scrutinized for gaining weight. Latina women also experience the paradox, and providers should keep this paradox in mind to understand root causes of EDs within the Latinx community.

Binge eating within the Latinx community is associated with significant levels of distress as well as psychopathology, and is often accompanied by obesity. Despite reporting significant levels of distress, the majority of Latina women do not seek treatment, and when they do, they often refer to primary care doctors in which obesity is the only thing that gets identified. Their ED goes unnoticed. In order to correctly diagnose EDs among Latina women, providers must understand the high prevalence rates of BED, BN, and binge- eating behaviors within the population which, in turn, can result in obesity. Once the ED is addressed, obesity can be addressed. Again, with cultural competency added into the equation of treatment, Latina women’s EDs will be correctly diagnosed and they will receive proper treatment.

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://yourlatinanutritionist.com/blog/eating-disorders-among-latinas

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2680162/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4078895/

Eating Disorders Part 2: Black Women with Eating Disorders

By: Abby Erasmus

Black women in America have a unique experience; their intersecting identities make them one of the most discriminated- against groups in America, resulting in mental health issues. Eating disorders (ED), for example, are not new within the Black community. Black women live with EDs at similar rates to all ethnic and demographic groups- but often times in the shadows. The majority of ED studies focus on white women. This ignores the fact that ED causes and manifestation can be different in other populations. Further, the most commonly researched ED is Anorexia Nervosa (AN), yet AN is not the typical ED experience of Black women. Binge Eating Disorder (BED) and Bulimia nervosa (BN) are the most common EDs among Black women, with Black girls being 50 times more likely to engage in BN behaviors than white girls. Because BED and BN aren’t frequently researched, they’re harder to correctly diagnose in patients; it is thus highly unlikely Black women will be diagnosed with an ED at all. To increase the likelihood that Black women will be correctly diagnosed and receive treatment, it is important to know the key symptoms of BED and BN. Listed here are some key symptoms:

BED: Recurrent, persistent episodes of binge eating & absence of compensatory behaviors like purging. The binge eating episodes are associated with 3 or more of the following: eating more rapidly than normal, eating until uncomfortably full, eating large amounts when not physically hungry, eating alone due to embarrassment of how much one is eating, feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or guilty after overeating.

BN: Recurrent episodes of binging that are characterized by eating an amount of food within a 2- hour period that is definitively larger than what most people eat in that time period, accompanied by feeling unable to stop eating/ control the amount one is eating & recurrent compensatory behaviors like: self- induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, excessive exercise, and more.

Additionally, stigma exists in the Black community in regard to receiving help due to complex stereotypes, histories, etc., and stigma in regard to EDs is dramatized as they are labeled a white woman’s problem. Once we call attention to ED prevalence and manifestation in the community, stigma will be reduced both within and outside of the community. This will then increase the likelihood that Black woman will receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment for their ED. Further, when providers are made aware of the daily micro and macro aggressions that can result in poor mental health and potentially maladaptive coping mechanisms like an ED, providers will be prepared to address such issues during sessions. The nuanced narrative of EDs within the Black community must be disseminated.

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.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog/new-dsm-5-binge-eating-disorder

https://www.centralcoasttreatmentcenter.com/blog-1/invisibility-of-eating-disorders-in-the-black-community-its-more-than-the-eating-disorder-stereotype

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519712/table/ch3.t16/

Beyond “Eating Disorders Don’t Discriminate”

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

The Effect of Social Media and Eating Disorders

By: Sarah Cohen

Eating disorders are extremely serious and often deadly illnesses that include severe disturbances in eating behaviors and related thoughts and emotions. There have been numerous studies in which mass media consumption of the “thin ideal body” has been linked to eating disorders among women. Pressure from media has led to women and men internalizing the “thin ideal body” and led to extreme body dissatisfaction which can then lead to eating disorders. While the effect is smaller among men, they are still being subjected to pressure.

Studies have shown “significant change in the weight and size of female and male models portrayed throughout the media in western society and the concept of the ‘perfect or ideal body’.” This explains “why many adolescents are preoccupied with their bodies and dissatisfied with their body image and are willing to try a variety of dangerous weight-loss practices in their quest for the perfect body.”

Most people are usually not aware the amount of manipulation and digital editing done in the fashion industry to create ‘ideal’ female and male bodies. These false images encourage unrealistic and unhealthy standards that are impossible to attain. One study focused on body concerns in girls 16 years old and tried to understand the underlying motivations to be skinny. The element that exerted the largest pressure to be smaller was the media. Another study measured indicators of eating disorders in a population of young Fijian girls after the addition of Western television to their routine. The indicators of eating disorders were exceptionally more prevalent after extended television viewing, demonstrating a negative impact of media. A large component of the data recorded was the theme of subjects describing a new interest in weight loss as a method of modelling themselves after the television characters they viewed.

In order to prevent the effect of social media on disordered eating, here are three tips: choose what media you view and participate in carefully, limit the amount of exposure you have, and test each media’s message for body positivity by asking critical questions about what information they are attempting to spread.

If you or someone you know needs support with their marriage, 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.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/eating-disorders/index.shtml

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2792687/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2792687/

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/media-eating-disorders

Tiggemann M, Gardiner M, Slater A. “I would rather be size 10 than have straight A’s”: A focus group study of adolescent girls’ wish to be thinner. J Adolesc. 2000;23:645–59.

Becker AE, Burwell RA, Gilman SE, Herzog DB, Hamburg P. Eating behaviours and attitudes following exposure to television among ethnic Fijian adolescent girls. Br J Psychiatry. 2002;180:509–14.

Anorexia: Silent Suffering

By: Elyse Ganss

Anorexia nervosa, commonly referred to as anorexia, is an eating disorder that includes symptoms of often an extremely low body weight, a fear of gaining weight, and body dysmorphia. People suffering from anorexia are usually consumed by thoughts of their body image.

Extreme focus on weight and shape is experienced by those who have anorexia. This often leads to a dangerous restriction of calories to lose and restrict weight. Those suffering from anorexia may excessively exercise, consume laxatives, or vomit after eating to stop weight gain. Even when the person suffering from anorexia reaches an extremely thin and unhealthy body weight/shape, they will not stop the restriction of food.

Anorexia can have serious health complications including heart problems, bone loss, infertility, kidney problems, and more. Anorexia is common with people who have perfectionist/high-achieving personality types. People suffering from anorexia feel as though they gain a sense of control by restricting their intake of food.

Anorexia can be undiagnosed for a long time if symptoms are not detected. It is common for people with anorexia to deny their eating disorder and not want to seek help. By meeting with a therapist, treatment plans can be established. Normally this would include a plan to get the person to a healthy weight, finding out what emotional issues the person is having, and changing their thought processes/outlook on their body image.

If you or someone you know needs support 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.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anorexia-nervosa/symptoms-causes/syc=2-353591

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/eating-disorders/anorexia-nervosa/default.htm

Image Source:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/science-practice/202002/therapy-can-help-even-those-who-did-not-benefit

Anorexia and Amenorrhea: How Anorexia can be the Reason for Losing your Period

By: Sanjita Ekhelikar

Eating disorders are ruthless mental illnesses which severely impact on one’s mental and physical well-being. One such eating disorder is Anorexia Nervosa. This ailment is characterized by a severely distorted body image, a fear of gaining weight, extreme starvation and restriction of food intake, and a very low body weight. This deprivation of food and nutrients can have detrimental effects to the body. Anorexia Nervosa is primarily prevalent among younger females, although impacting males as well. One side effect of this eating disorder in females is amenorrhea, or losing one’s menstrual cycle.

Amenorrhea can be classified into two forms: primary and secondary. Primary amenorrhea occurs when a female does not begin her menstrual cycle by sixteen years of age. Secondary amenorrhea, loss of the menstrual cycle after it has already begun, is prevalent in many females with anorexia nervosa. The loss of one’s period can be attributed to low body weight, extreme amounts of exercise, and greater stress levels. The loss of such a regulated bodily cycle in a female’s body is dangerous, and can indicate the severity of and impairment caused by anorexia nervosa.

If amenorrhea and the underlying causes of its occurrence are not addressed, women are at risk of becoming infertile. In addition, the levels of estrogen decrease in the female body, leading to the development of pre-menopausal symptoms including loss of sleep, night sweats, and irritable moods. Finally, amenorrhea and the resulting reduction in estrogen can deplete amounts of calcium, thus making bones brittle and more susceptible to breakage. This can even occur in younger women with anorexia who are struggling through amenorrhea.

It is imperative that one seeks treatment if they are struggling with Anorexia Nervosa, and especially if one is also experiencing amenorrhea. Therapy and medication can be of assistance in overcoming this disorder, and in restoring one’s menstrual and mental well-being.

If you or someone you know is dealing with Anorexia Nervosa and/or amenorrhea, please contact our psychotherapy/psychiatry 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/.