Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia often provide individuals with a sense of purpose; as if they are on a mission to remake themselves and finally become happy. People suffering from an eating disorder may have that inner voice telling them 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. (more…)
Anorexia nervosa is a serious mental illness characterized by significant weight loss; difficulties maintaining appropriate body weight and, for some, body dysmorphia. At any given time, anorexia nervosa will affect 0.3-0.4% of young women and 0.1% of young men, and it has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. (more…)
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.
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From famous entertainers to the average person on the street, eating disorders are the silent battle that many people fight alone. Recently, pop stars like Demi Lovato and Kesha have both disclosed their struggles with eating disorders. Lovato told Insider that she is open about the challenges she faces with weight control and maintaining a positive body image. In a recent article in Cosmopolitan, Kesha shared a similar story but spoke of her success with overcoming body issues. However, there are numerous other people who do not have the spotlight of a pop star to share their pain and triumphs. They are not as well-known, but their everyday struggles with eating disorders are just as real.
Currently, there are over 30 million people who suffer from some type of eating disorder. There are still stigmas around mental illness, and this is true for eating disorders. Whether in Michigan, Iowa, or Ohio; the stories are very similar. These are stories of individuals confronting the pain of this affliction. In a story from Michigan, one woman reflects back on high school and remembers feeling proud that she “hadn’t eaten anything that day.” Eventually, she realized that something had to change. A mother in Iowa shares a similar story about her battles with and recovering from anorexia. “Eating disorders are a lot about control, and there was a lot in my life that was out of control. This was something I could control. And I grew up feeling like I wasn’t good enough or really worthy.”
In Ohio, an anorexia survivor has even created a short film that documents the doubt and isolation that is part of this mental illness. In this instance, the individual who has struggled with anorexia is a male, even though the disease is mistakenly thought of as a women’s disorder. He remembers thinking that “I could never tell people what I was going through because they never would believe me, or maybe it wasn’t even real.” His short film is intended to raise awareness and remind people that they are not alone and help is available. Recovery is possible. On a side note, males make up about 25 percent of eating disorder diagnoses.
Across the nation, eating disorders plague a wide variety of people. Yet, treatment options are available that can bring hope to those who are suffering in silence. For additional information, or if you have questions about eating disorders and recovery solutions, please contact the staff at River Centre Clinic (RCC). With decades of experience, their Eating Disorders Programs provide a full range of treatment options for adolescents and adults with a primary diagnosis of an eating disorder. The levels of care provided at the RCC are designed to meet the needs of most patients with eating disorders, but it is important to note that treatment is individualized for each case. We follow a well-established therapy model for treating eating disorders that integrates individual, group, and family therapy. The River Centre Clinic is located in a modern, spacious and tranquil setting in Sylvania, Ohio.
The EAT-26 is the most widely cited standardized self-report screening measure that may be able to help you determine if you have an eating disorder that needs professional attention. Take the EAT-26 now and get immediate and anonymous feedback.
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