Monthly Archives - November 2018

Eating Disorders -- RCC

The Allure of Eating Disorders: Perfection and Shame

Some people may find this surprising, but eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia can provide individuals with a sense of purpose. They are on a mission to remake themselves and finally become happy. People suffering from an eating disorder will have an inner voice that tells them that they will be happy if they can just lose the weight. This same voice tells a person with anorexia or bulimia that their worth is primarily measured by how they physically look.

People suffering from diseases like anorexia may actually have a sense of uniqueness. As they grapple with hunger pains and thoughts that excessively focus on food, exercise and their body. They become numb to other things in their life. Eating disorders can create an anesthetic-like effect on people. When their body is perfect, they will be happy. There is simply no escape from this mission.

However, this is an illusion. For people, happiness and positive self-esteem arise from accepting and loving themselves as they are in the present. Another crucial piece for a successful recovery is for individuals to have access to love and support. In this way, people can start to understand that their eating disorder was not by choice. Yet, seeking treatment is not always an option for some people. Sadly, there is still a societal stigma towards mental health.

Due to this stigma, and feelings of shame, people may choose to struggle with their eating disorder alone. However, they should understand that there is no shame in having a diagnosed eating disorder. Perceived feelings of shame for having an eating disorder is a poor reason for not seeking professional help. But, these feelings of shame and fear create additional medical complications and high mortality rates for individuals struggling with an eating disorder.

Among the youth and college students, eating disorders are particularly a problem. There is a movement to educate students, as well as the youth in general, about body positivity and the dangers of untreated eating disorders. The goal is for young people to accept that all body shapes and sizes are beautiful. For example, in Northern Ohio, Youngstown State University (YSU) spreads awareness about the dangers of eating disorders by hosting a student fashion show. The show is titled the EveryBODY Fashion Show – Awareness of Eating Disorder Fashion Show and is held to showcase and celebrate all body types. The show is held in honor of a former YSU student (Danielle Peters) from the fashion merchandising program. In 2012, this student died due to complications from an eating disorder. In addition, some students take part in the National Eating Disorders Association Walk at the Cleveland Zoo to raise money for the organization.

Beyond raising awareness, people’s relationship with dieting, body weight and their sense of themselves are complex. People who suffer from eating disorders state that they still feel uncomfortable in their own skin, even after losing a substantial amount of weight. Hopefully, these individuals realize that they are chasing the illusion of perfection and start to understand that it is not possible to “diet” oneself to happiness. There are deeper issues and insecurities at work.

It is possible to fully recover from eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. However, when a person is alone, it may feel like there is no escape from the obsessive thoughts about food and body weight. A trained healthcare professional can guide and support people as they come to terms with their perceptions and thoughts. Research shows that without proper treatment and professional assistance, the prospects for a full recovery are greatly diminished. In this case, a do it on your own approach is not the best choice.

Recovery from eating disorders can be elusive and challenging. After recovery, individuals may continue to experience mild, moderate or even severe symptoms. What is important is that people maintain an optimistic outlook. People with chronic and debilitating eating disorders can make a full recovery. With the right professional guidance and the proper level of care, it is possible for people to learn to deal with life without the nagging inner voice of an eating disorder.

Contact the friendly staff at River Centre Clinic (RCC) for additional information or questions about eating disorder treatments. Their experienced staff and nationally recognized programs provide patients with a full range of treatment options. The River Centre Clinic is located in the beautiful Sylvania, Ohio.

Follow on Twitter:  @River_Centre

Eating Disorders, College Students, Shame, Anorexia, Bulimia

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LGBTQ Youth & Eating Disorders - River Centre Clinic

Why Are Eating Disorders More Common in the LGBTQ Community?

Eating disorders have long been a problem in the United States. These disorders have been part of the psychiatric literature for many years. In recent decades, psychiatrists and other healthcare professionals have allocated more time and resources towards the study, treatment and prevention of these disorders. Recent studies are attempting to explain a particular pattern of eating disorders in U.S. society. Researchers have found that more than half of young LGBTQ people between the ages of 13 and 24 have been diagnosed with an eating disorder.

Both the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA),  and The Trevor Project, (LGBTQ suicide prevention organization) state that the report is based on online surveys of 1,034 young people. Among the 46 percent of LGBTQ youth who were surveyed and had never been diagnosed with an eating disorder, 54 percent reported that they at some point suspected they suffered from an undiagnosed eating disorder. Out of all the survey’s respondents, 75 percent said they had either been diagnosed with an eating disorder or suspected they had one at some point in their life. This research displays the need for additional studies in this area.

The most common disordered eating behavior from the survey was skipping meals and eating very little food in general. Not surprisingly, anorexia nervosa was the most prevalent eating disorder. The data also displayed a correlation between young LGBTQ individuals with eating disorders and suicide. Out of the individuals who had been diagnosed with bulimia, a shocking 96 percent had considered suicide. On a similar note, 66 percent of survey respondents who had stated that they had considered suicide already had been diagnosed with an eating disorder.

An earlier study in 2007 had explored at the prevalence of eating disorders in lesbian, gay and bisexual men and women. Part of the research examined associations between participation in the LGBTQ community and eating disorder prevalence in gay and bisexual men. The research was not clear as to why there was a high prevalence of eating disorders among gay and bisexual men. Researchers in this study found that gay and bisexual men had a significantly higher incidence of eating disorders when compared to heterosexual men.

Studies in 2007 were the first to assess DSM diagnostic categories, gay and bisexual men had a significantly higher prevalence of lifetime full syndrome bulimia, subclinical bulimia, and any subclinical eating disorder. At the time, gay men are thought to only represent 5 percent of the total male population in the United States. Yet, for males who have been diagnosed with an eating disorder, 42 percent of them identify as gay. For people who identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or mostly heterosexual, they possessed binge eating, purging and laxative abuse rates that were much higher than their heterosexual peers. Data shows that for LGBTQ youth, as early as age 12, they are at a higher risk of engaging in disordered eating behavior.

So why is there a higher occurrence of eating disorders in the LGBTQ community?

Some researchers argue that because of stress from living as a minority, unhealthy eating habits are more common in the LGBTQ community. Eating behaviors such as binge eating and anorexia nervosa are symptoms of the general social stress that LGBTQ individuals experience as minorities. Thankfully, new studies and technology are making it easier to understand the physical impulses that surround unhealthy eating behaviors. Also, a broader acceptance of LGBTQ people in American culture should hopefully lower this statistic. The election of the first openly gay governor in Colorado shows that U.S. society is changing.

However, there are still unique stressors that people in the LGBTQ community are forced to face every day. These stressors create higher levels of anxiety and depression. This, in turn, can encourage unhealthy coping mechanisms that creates eating disorders and/or substance abuse. Some of the stressors that may encourage the development of eating disorders include:

  • Internalizing negative messages.
  • Living in fear from being harassed which can develop into PTSD.
  • Stress from discrimination.
  • Living as a runaway and/or experiencing homelessness.

Healthcare professionals who have direct experience with diagnosing and treating eating disorders can help people successfully recover from an eating disorder infliction. For additional information or questions about bulimia and anorexia, please contact the staff at River Centre Clinic (RCC). Their Eating Disorders Programs provide a full range of treatment options for both adolescents and adults. Their facility is located Northwest Ohio in the town of Sylvania, OH.

Follow on Twitter:  @River_Centre

LGBTQ, Eating Disorders, Anorexia Nervosa
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