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.

Orthorexia Nervosa: an eating disorder in disguise

By Argie Dabrowski

Eating disorders are characterized by unhealthy relationships with food, whether it be excessive or restricted intake or cycles of binging and purging. The most common eating disorders today are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. Orthorexia nervosa is a proposed eating disorder that, paradoxically, revolves around healthy eating. Orthorexic people are not focused on losing weight. Instead, they are trying to achieve the perfect diet, which they believe will be the solution to all of their problems.

Although not officially recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, orthorexia nervosa has been the topic of many studies and can still be as dangerous as more well-known eating disorders. Those with orthorexia only eat food that fits their standards, such as only containing whole grains or being vegan. This means that they avoid many foods that they see as unclean or unhealthy. Some orthorexic individuals also avoid foods they believe they are allergic too, without actual advice from medical professionals.

At its core, orthorexia is an obsession and those who suffer from it are not simply eating healthy but revolving their entire lives around what and when they eat. Those who have orthorexia have described being completely fixated on food, making it difficult for them to maintain healthy social relationships. These people often avoid social events that involve eating, such as parties, because the food served may not meet their criteria for “healthy” eating. They connect their rigid diet to mortality, as well. Because of this, when failing to meet the standards of their rigid diets, these people feel immense guilt and anxiety.

Besides weight loss, orthorexic people often experience isolation due to the aforementioned social strains. This can lead to depression and further anxiety. Orthorexia nervosa is often clinically treated in a similar manner to anorexia nervosa and obsessive compulsive disorder, which is through exposure to avoided foods.

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:
pro.psychcentral.com/3-warning-signs-that-a-patient-might-be-struggling-with-orthorexia/
psychcentral.com/blog/understanding-orthorexia/
pro.psychcentral.com/orthorexia-nervosa-disease-that-masquerades-as-health/
nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/other/orthorexia

Image Source:
ojo.pe/mujer/el-color-de-los-vegetales-280442-noticia/

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

Restrictive Eating Disorder: Orthorexia

By: Sanjita Ekhelikar

“Sugar-free,” “low-calorie,” “antioxidant-rich,” “organic.” These are all words we are surrounded by in a world where healthy eating is so greatly stressed and strived for. We are educated from an early age about how it is important to choose healthier options in order to maintain our wellbeing and avoid illnesses. Healthy eating seems to be failproof – nothing could possibly go wrong with wanting to make healthy food choices, right?

Wrong. While healthy eating is extremely beneficial in reasonable amounts, it can take an unhealthy turn when the desire to eat clean becomes obsessive. This condition is defined as orthorexia, an obsession with eating healthy foods and eliminating those which do not fall under this category. Although not formally diagnosed, this illness can truly affect one’s wellbeing. People with orthorexia completely ban foods that they do not think are healthy, and often restrict calories as well, thus destroying their relationships with food.

There are many symptoms of orthorexia to note. Individuals with this disorder excessively look at nutritional facts and caloric information. They are continually concerned about health information and ingredients, and cut out foods that do not qualify as healthy (such as sugars, carbs, and fats). Orthorexia can cause individuals to spend lots of time thinking about the foods they need to consume, and makes them uncomfortable if they are only surrounded by “unhealthy” food choices. Orthorexia is often comorbid with obsessive compulsive disorder. As a result of orthorexia, individuals deprive themselves of key nutrients and essential calories for proper functioning. They and can develop issues such as decreased blood pressure, blood sugar fluctuations, digestive issues, impaired brain functioning and concentration, sleeping difficulties, hair loss, loss of menstrual cycle, and muscle cramping.

Although healthy eating can be advantageous, it must be encouraged in a realistic and reasonable way. People should be informed that having a well-balanced diet is important, and involves eating foods such as carbs, sugars, and fats which may be believed to be “unhealthy”. Overall physical health can be maintained even if eating those “junky” meals every now and then and not obsessively restricting one’s diets. By promoting this, we can also certify that we encourage both good physical AND mental health.

If you or someone you know is suffering from orthorexia and/or other eating issues, 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/.

BED: Symptoms, Statistics, and Risks

By: Cassie Sieradzky

Binge eating disorder is characterized by episodes of ingesting large quantities of food to the point of feeling sick, feeling a loss of control during the episodes, guilt and or shame following the binge, and a lack of compensatory behaviors, like purging. Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in America. The recurrent episodes of binging are done within a discrete period of time and can be associated with eating faster than usual, eating until uncomfortably full, eating when not hungry, eating in private due to shame, and feeling guilty and depressed following the binge. To merit a diagnosis, binging episodes must occur at least one a week for 3 months.

Binge eating disorder is 3x more common than anorexia and bulimia combined, with a lifetime prevalence of 3.5% for women and 2% for men. BED is most prevalent in the late teens or early 20s; however it is also reported in young children and adults. About 40% of individuals diagnosed with BED are male and 3 out of 10 individuals seeking weight loss treatments show signs of this disorder.

Psychotherapy is an important part of the treatment. Psychotherapy helps the individual address and work through the emotional problems associated with BED. Individuals with this disorder are at an increased risk of developing another psychiatric disorder such as substance abuse, bulimia, or anorexia. People with BED are also at risk of engaging in self-injurious behavior, suicidal thoughts, and suicidal actions. Along with the emotional problems associated with BED, individuals with this disorder are at an increased risk for developing diabetes, abnormal cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from binge-eating disorder, licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. 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, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Dryden-Edwards, M. R. (n.d.). Binge Eating Disorder Treatment, Symptoms & Causes. Retrieved January
23, 2018, from https://www.medicinenet.com/binge_eating_disorder/article.htm
Overview and Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved January 23, 2018, from
https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/binge-eating-disorder