Overcoming any mental health disorder is complex, and eating disorders are no different. Disordered eating affects not only your physical health but your mental and emotional health as well. There are many ways eating disorders can manifest, each with their own health concerns and emotional turmoils, but eating disorders can beget even greater feelings of anxiety, depression, shame, or other pervasive, intrusive thoughts.
The Many Forms of Disordered Eating
Eating disorders come in many different forms, each carrying its own detriments to your physical and mental health. However, the ways eating disorders affect your life can be wholly unique as each disorder presents its own nuanced situation. Understanding the various ways eating disorders present themselves can help you better identify and support yourself or a loved one suffering from these disorders.
Binge eating disorders are challenging to manage. If you are suffering from these disorders, they may not present symptoms in obvious ways. Instead, you may suffer in silence and self-isolation. This disorder is defined by eating much more than your body needs when having a meal, with binge sessions lasting up to a couple of hours.
An individual may find themselves eating even if they are not hungry. However, you may still take regular mealtimes and find it incredibly difficult to stop eating once the cycle of obsession and compulsion has started.
Eating alone or in secret are common symptoms of binge eating disorders. You may typically end these binged meals feeling uncomfortably full and often with a feeling of shame or guilt surrounding the meal.
Anorexia nervosa, or “anorexia,” is an eating disorder defined by its restrictive qualities. You may refuse to eat or eat in such small portions that your body never gets the required nutrients to sustain regular, healthy functioning.
When suffering from anorexia, you may eschew entire meals as you become hyper-fixated on your perceived body image and food intake to mitigate any weight gain. However, the damage done to your body as a result of anorexia can be severe and often stems from fear due to an altered perception of how your body looks. Feelings of inadequacy, self-belittlement, doubt, anxiety, and depression are all common symptoms of anorexia. They can be greatly influenced by unfair expectations or portrayals of beauty in mainstream media.
Purging is another eating disorder shaped by a warped perception of your body image. However, rather than avoiding eating altogether, purging involves self-induced vomiting to ensure that your food intake does not have the time to process in your body, thus eliminating the production of fat.
Vomiting, the use of laxatives, unhealthy use of diuretics, or a compulsive need to exercise to prevent any creation of body fat are all common practices for those suffering from this kind of eating disorder.
The Effects of Eating Disorders on Mental Health
Eating disorders are a unique kind of disorder that affects both the body and mind in very different ways. While your physical health can deteriorate, either by overeating during binge sessions or denying yourself essential nutrients, your mental health can be equally affected.
First, eating disorders often come paired with a sense of shame or guilt, especially in the case of binge eating. While this disorder can develop as a result of a social or emotional need to feel “full” in other aspects of your life, food can often be interpreted as a literal replacement. This can turn binge eating into a dangerous disorder that apes your other needs.
Coupled with the guilt or isolation that comes with the disorder, this is a condition that also works to prevent an individual from pursuing these aspects of their lives. Altogether this creates a dangerous cycle of emotional damage and overeating.
You may develop an eating disorder due to anxieties or depression instilled by unrealistic expectations of your own body. Constantly comparing yourself to others can lead to a very altered view of your physical appearance. You may even convince yourself that you are “fat” or “overweight” even when such conclusions are entirely based on falsehoods.
However, it can be difficult to change this mental perception. Your internal anxiety around maintaining a certain weight or the depression of comparing yourself to others all continue to affect your mental health while making it incredibly difficult to view yourself in a positive light.
The Dangers of a Distorted Body Image
Body image is directly tied to these eating disorders. The disappointment, depression, anxiety, and shame surrounding physical appearance can greatly affect mental health. While changing diet can be healthy, eating disorders often take these notions and distort them, creating a consistently negative view of your physical appearance or even your entire being.
The constant assumption that you are not “good enough” or “attractive enough” not only facilitates feelings of anxiety and depression but also leads to the development of further mental health disorders or drastic coping strategies. Such strategies can include more developed disordered eating, substance abuse, or other self-destructive behaviors to cope with the pervasive anxieties and depression that pollute your self-image.
Eating disorders present a very difficult challenge, and they can continue to ravage your physical and emotional health in daily life. At Avalon Malibu, we understand the hardships created by eating disorders, as well as the unique ways in which they affect your entire person on a regular basis. Your time with us can be wholly personalized to help you address your unique situation, all with personalized recovery strategies and outlets to process your unique journey towards a healthy, transformed future. Nutritional guidance, all backed with a supportive atmosphere and understanding community, are all in place to help you take the first important steps on your journey. Yoga, meditation, individual and group therapy, art, music, mindfulness practices, and much more are all available for you to construct your own recovery plan alongside trained professionals. For more information on how we can help you, call to speak to us today at (844) 857-5992.