Did you know at least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S? Worldwide, 70 million people are considered to have an eating disorder. Commonly, if someone has an eating disorder, it is likely that person may also have another mental illness such as depression or anxiety. This is termed as comorbidity or the co-existence of two or more disorders.
The three main types of eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge-Eating Disorder. Let’s discuss the differences between these three:
- Anorexia Nervosa is described as persistent restriction of food intake resulting in significantly low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, persistent dissatisfaction with the way one’s body weight and shape are, and a lack of seriousness of underweight body consequences. Anorexia often leads to osteoporosis (deterioration of bones), bone fractures, interruption on menstrual cycle, and brain tissue loss, irregular or slow heartbeat, dry skin and lips, muscle loss, fatigue.
- Bulimia is described as the recurring episodes of consuming large quantities of food and followed by self-induced vomiting or use of laxatives. The main difference between Anorexia and Bulimia is that in Bulimia, there is a purging factor whereas Anorexia doesn’t have that. Bulimia can be categorized as a sense of lack of control over what and how much one is eating, recurrent episodes of binge eating, recurrent purging practices such as misuse of laxatives, vomiting, fasting, or excessive exercise. The binge eating and purging behaviors occur at least once a week for three months. Bulimia can result in cardiac arrhythmia(improper beating of the heart), metabolic deficiencies, and digestive disorders.
- Binge-Eating Disorder key factors are recurrent and continuous binge eating episodes which are associated with eating large amounts of food yet not being hungry, eating until uncomfortably full, and feeling disgusted with oneself or guilty for overeating. Some other factors are distress when binge eating and an absence of purging behaviors.
The most common eating disorder in the United States is Binge-Eating Disorder, and it affects 3.5% of adult women, 2% of adult men, and 1.6% of adolescents. The risk factors of Binge-Eating Disorder are weight gain, fatigue, low self-esteem, depression, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, type 2 diabetes, kidney problems or failure, and osteoarthritis. People with this disorder will usually eat alone because they are embarrassed by how much they eat in a short amount of time.
Family dynamics can be a possible reason for developing an eating disorder. Families who are disengaged, unfriendly, and hostile have been linked to eating disorders. Also parents who are competitive and controlling are more likely to have children who have an eating disorder. Some treatments commonly used for Eating Disorders are Family Therapies and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Family Therapies are when individuals within a family learn healthier ways to interact with each other and resolve conflicts while usually consulting a therapist. Likewise, with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a therapist and patient work to try and dissolve the thought process behind the negative self image eating disorders are associated with and alter unwanted behavior patterns. Cognitive Behavior Therapy is also used to treat mood disorders such as depression, and it has been the optimal treatment choice for people with Bulimia and Binge-Eating Disorder.
If you know someone who you think might have an eating disorder, tell them about your concerns in a caring way, and educate yourself on eating disorders to help prepare you for the conversation. The person might feel embarrassed or ashamed, so don’t talk in a negative way about their disorder. Being in a comfortable environment where the person feels safe might also be beneficial. The environment needs to have a calm and open presence to it. Having an eating disorder is a serious mental illness, and if you think you or someone you love may have one, don’t be afraid to talk to someone. There are seriously damaging consequences to having an eating disorder such as bone loss, irregular heart rhythm, kidney failure, and extreme weight loss or gain depending on which eating disorder behaviors you exhibit.
So remember, people come in all shapes and sizes, and being skinny does not define who you are. It is important to have a healthy mindset of what bodies should look like and spread that on to future generations.
Crisis Textline: Text CONNECT to 741741
Available 24/7, 365 days a year, this organization helps people with eating disorders and other mental health issues by connecting callers with trained crisis volunteers who will provide confidential advice, support, and referrals if needed.
Multi-Service Eating Disorders Association (formerly the Massachusetts Eating Disorder Association): 1-617-558-1881
This organization offers education, information, referrals to clinicians who specialize in eating disorders, support groups, and additional services for people with eating disorders in the New England area. It also offers information about nationwide treatment centers and is available between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST, Monday–Friday
Overeaters Anonymous: 1-505-891-2664
This hotline is available to people worldwide who need a referral to an Overeaters Anonymous support meeting in their area. Contrary to popular belief, Overeaters Anonymous is not just for people who are concerned about eating too much; it is also intended for those who have anorexia, bulimia, food addiction, or any other type of eating disorder. If you are reluctant to attend an in-person meeting or are not geographically near one, its website offers you the option to participate in an online- or telephone-based support group.
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders: 1-630-577-1330
Currently serving people in the United States, the hotline operates Monday–Friday from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. CST, with plans for a 24/7 hotline coming soon. Trained hotline volunteers offer encouragement to those having problems around eating or binging, support for those who “need help getting through a meal,” and assistance to family members who have concerns that their loved one might have an eating disorder.
Hopeline Network: 1-800-442-4673
This is a hotline dedicated to serving anyone in crisis. Sometimes, people with eating disorders might feel so full of shame or self-hatred that they contemplate hurting themselves. If this is true for you, this hotline offers nationwide assistance and support from volunteers specifically trained in crisis intervention. You can talk to someone day or night about anything that’s troubling you, even if it’s not related to an eating disorder. You can also call if you need referrals to eating disorder treatment centers.
Mindfulness, which comes from
Buddhist practices, is a state of consciousness that is defined as “the state
of being attentive to and aware of what is taking place in the present” (Brown
& Ryan, 2003, p. 822). It is also an
awareness of the impermanence of thoughts, which can lead to a trained mind
with an increased level of attention stability (Jha, Krompinger, & Baime,
2007; Weick & Sutcliffe, 2006).
Conceptually, mindfulness can also be considered a metacognitive
process, consisting of monitoring and controlling thoughts to self-regulate
thinking and emotions (Bishop, Lau, Shapiro, Carlson, Anderson, Carmody, Segal,
Abbey, Speca, Velting, & Devins, 2004; Schraw & Moshman, 1995), or
cognition about one’s cognition (Flavell, 1979).
Scientific Research breaks
mindfulness down into three constructs:
state mindfulness (the degree to which a person is aware and attentive
in each moment), trait mindfulness (looking at an individual’s innate mindful
traits or the frequency and duration a person spends in a mindful state which
varies from person to person), and mindfulness practice or training, which can
cultivate trait mindfulness (Brown & Ryan, 2003; Hülsheger et al.,
2012). In a 2003 study, where Brown and
Ryan examined the empirical links between mindfulness and well-being, they
found that mindfulness practice increased well-being and decreased cognitive
and emotional stress of their subjects, thus showing how mindfulness can be an
important tool in daily life.
Mindfulness has also been found to enhance working memory capacity and
reduce rumination which can lead to negative affect (Bishop et al., 2004;
Chamers, Chuen, & Allen, 2008) by acknowledging and accepting arising thoughts
and redirecting focus.
Living your life in a more mindful way can help bring about greater peace and feelings of relaxation. When our minds gravitate to the past we start to feel depressed and when we gravitate to the future we feel anxiety. Therefore, by focusing your mind to stay in the present with what is happening to you right then and there, you relieve yourself of depression and anxiety.
Mindfulness meditation training, such as Mindfulness Based
Stress Reduction (MBSR), developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, is a form of mental
training that has been proven to reduce illness and improve immune function
(Davidson, Kabat-Zinn, Schumacher, Rosencranz, Muller, Santorelli, Urbanowski,
Harrington, Bonus, & Sheridan, 2003; Fredrickson et al., 2008), decrease
the cognitive and physical symptoms of stress, experienced negative affect,
rumination (Chiesa & Serretti, 2009), and burnout (Hülsheger et al., 2013). MBSR is typically administered as an 8-week
course that meets once a week, either in person or online, where
mindfulness-based techniques are taught and a daily Mindfulness Meditation
practice is encouraged (Kabat-Zinn, 2003).
Many of you are probably thinking, how am I going to find
the time to do an 8-week course on mindfulness?
With many free apps available such as Headspace, Calm and Insight, it
has become easier to incorporate daily meditations and reminders to take a
short time out of your day to unplug and refocus your attention to the
present. In addition, there are other
techniques to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine such as mindful
walking, cooking, eating and showering.
Beyond mindfulness meditation where you sit quietly and
focus your mind, there are other techniques that can help live mindfully such
as learning mindful walking. My favorite
way to remind myself how to walk mindfully is to use the acronym STOP, which
stands for Stop, Take a breath, Observe and Proceed. When doing so, you want to bring your focus
to your environment and away from your racing mind. This allows you to notice the details in how
things look and feel such as different colors and light that you see around you
or how the air feels on your skin. Many people do walking meditations barefoot
so that they can feel how the ground touches your feet.
more information on how to do mindful walking go to A Daily Mindful
Walking Practice which includes a guided audio meditation.
When you prepare a meal, what goes through your mind as you measure and mix ingredients in your kitchen? Do you observe details such as color and texture as you chop vegetables or chose descriptive words to describe how things feels as you touch them? Mindful cooking can not only relieve stress and bring you more into the present but can also help those people who struggle with physical health and weight issues. Setting intentions as you prepare a meal can change your experience into one filled with love and gratitude which can impact your state of mind and your daily life.
you are interested in learning more about mindful cooking, check out Recipes
for Compassion and How
to Master the Art of Mindful Cooking.
When we eat we often rush through our food because we are thinking about the next place we have to be or the next thing we have to do. We don’t allow our brains to really take in the experience of eating and end up in a whirlwind of thoughts or eating unhealthy because we are not fully aware of what we are doing. This is why we eat when we are stressed or binge eat because we are not fully conscious of what and why we are doing what we are doing. Taking a moment to be more cognizant of our actions will allow for better choices when it comes to eating and a more relaxed and enjoyable practice of having a meal. This is an important component to living mindfully on a daily basis.
more information on Mindful eating versus Mindless Eating check out 6 Ways to
Practice Mindful Eating, 8
Steps to mindful eating and The Center for Mindful Eating.
Have you ever heard of meditating while in the shower? Learning how to shower mindfully is something not many people think about but if you start off with the right mindset in your daily routine can drastically change how you feel throughout your day.
in learning how to shower mindfully?
Check out How
to Be Mindful While Taking a Shower and A
Mindful Shower – The Perfect Start to Every Day.
~ Stephanie Baker
Bishop, S. R., Lau, M., Shapiro, S., Carlson, L., Anderson, N. D., Carmody, J., Segal, Z. V., Abbey, S., Speca, M., Velting, D., Devins, G. (2004). Mindfulness: A proposed operational definition. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 11(3), 230-241.
Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology: Interpersonal Relations and Group Processes, 84(4), 822-848.
Chambers, R., Lo, B. C. Y., & Allen, N. B. (2008). The impact of intensive mindfulness training on attentional control, cognitive style, and affect. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 32(3), 303-322.
Chiesa, A., & Serretti, A. (2009). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for stress management in healthy people: A review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15(5), 593-600.
R. J., Kabat-Zinn, J., Schumacher, J., Rosenkranz, M., Muller, D., Santorelli,
S. F., Urbanowski, F., Harrington, A., Bonus, M., & Sheridan,
J. F. (2003). Alterations in brain and immune function produced by
mindfulness meditation. Psychosomatic
Medicine, 65(4), 564-570.
J. H. (1979). Metacognition and cognitive monitoring: A new area of cognitive–developmental inquiry.
American Psychologist, 34(10), 906-911.
Fredrickson, B. L. (1998). What good are
positive emotions? Review of General
Fredrickson, B. L., Cohn, M. A., Coffey, K. A., Pek, J., & Finkel, S. M. (2008). Open hearts build lives: Positive emotions, induced through loving-kindness meditation, build consequential personal resources. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Attitudes and Social Cognition, 95(5), 1045-1062.
A. P., Krompinger, J., & Baime, M. J. (2007). Mindfulness training modifies
subsystems of attention. Cognitive,
Affective & Behavioral Neuroscience, 7(2), 109-119.
Hülsheger, U. R., Alberts, H. J. E. M., Feinholdt, A., & Lang, J. W. B. (2013). Benefits of mindfulness at work: The role of mindfulness in emotion regulation, emotional exhaustion, and job satisfaction. Journal of Applied Psychology, 98(2), 310-325.
Kabat-Zinn, J. (2003). Mindfulness-based interventions in context: Past, present, and future. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10(2), 144-156.
G., & Moshman, D. (1995). Metacognitive theories. Educational Psychology Review, 7(4), 351-371.
Weick, K. E., & Sutcliffe, K. M. (2006). Mindfulness and the quality of organizational attention. Organization Science, 17(4), 514-524.
PWithdrawal is a group of symptoms with a degree of severity that occurs when the reduction in usage of psychoactive substances takes place for a prolonged period of time. With withdrawal can come some physiological and psychological disturbances. Withdrawal shows that there was a substance dependence.
Withdrawal symptoms can be time-limited and are related to the type of substance used and the dosage used before reduction occurred. We will now discuss what withdrawal looks like for each of the drugs and habits we discussed in a previous article, The Psychology of Addiction.
As hallucinogens begin to leave the system, a number of physical and psychological changes will occur.
A few of the hallucinogenic withdrawal symptoms are:
- Frank psychosis
- Long term psychosis
- Muscle spasms
- Permanent post-hallucinogenic perceptual disturbance
- loss of coordination
- zombie like state
- Aggressive, hostile, or violent behavior
- High blood pressure
- Rapid heart rate
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Precention (CDC), 1 in 10 Americans who use cannabis will become addicted. That number becomes 1 in 6 if the user begins to use marijuana before 18. Smoking marijuana occasionally may not cause any long-term significant symptoms but for those that use it regularly it is a different story.
Here are a few marijuana withdrawal symptoms:
- Mood changes
- Stomach problems
- Sleep difficulties/ insomnia
- Loss of focus
- Diminished appetite
- Craving for marijuana
- Increased feelings of depression
When the reduction of opiates occurs after heavy usage, users can experience a variety of withdrawal symptoms. With opiates, both early and late symptoms of withdrawal can occur.
Early opiate withdrawal symptoms:
- Runny nose
Late withdrawal symptoms:
- Abdominal cramping
- Dilated pupils
- Goose bumps
- Episodes of violence
A gambling addiction is considered a behavioral addiction. Unlike an addiction to a substance, behavioral addictions come with their own set of withdrawal symptoms that will be experienced during treatment.
Some gambling withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Cravings to gamble
- Difficulty breathing
Caffeine is one of the most commonly consumed psychoactive substances. ** It is important to note that regular use of caffeine has also been linked to positive health and psychological benefits, including decreasing the risks of cancer and suicide **
Once the body becomes dependent on caffeine, eliminating it from a diet can cause withdrawal symptoms that will begin 12 – 24 hours after stopping caffeine.
Here are a few caffeine withdrawal symptoms:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Depressed mood
Lovers of junk food who try to cut back have found that junk food withdrawal can cause symptoms similar to drug withdrawal. It’s been noted that withdrawing, or cutting back, from things like fries or chocolate can cause the same withdrawal symptoms as someone who is withdrawing from cigarettes or marijuana.
Some food withdrawal symptoms include:
- Mood swings
- Poor sleep
Withdrawal is not easy to fight, and it can even be deadly if not done right. Read more on Withdrawal: Why it’s not easy and can even be deadly.
~ Angela Tilghman
Talk-therapy may be the best choice for some people, but not for everyone. Do you know about some of the amazing alternative options such as Eco therapy, Laughter therapy, Dance therapy, Heat therapy, and Culinary Art therapy?
In our previous article, we told you about some amazing non-traditional (aka alternative) therapy options. We discussed art therapy, sand play therapy, play therapy, aquatic therapy and animal assisted therapy. You can find the link to that article here: Play As Therapy? . In this article, we’re going to give you five more therapy options to discuss some more interesting choices!
Eco Therapy (Nature Therapy)
What it is:
Eco therapy, also known as nature therapy, is therapy which involves connecting with nature. Eco therapy is also called green therapy and earth-centered therapy. Eco therapy stems from the belief that people are part of the web of life and our psyches aren’t separated from our environment.
In 2007, researchers at the University of Essex found a group of people who were suffering from depression. 90% of participants felt a higher level of self-esteem after a walk through a country park and about three-quarters felt less depressed. Another survey, from the same researchers, found that 94% of people with mental illness believed that contact with nature put them in a more of a positive mood.
Eco therapy also has these other benefits:
• Lifting depression
• Releasing stress and anxiety
• Stimulate the senses
• Improve sleep
• Reduce pain
• Diminish mental fatigue
• Counter isolation
• Lessen eating disorder symptoms
• Strengthen the immune system
• Enhance mental and physical recuperations from surgery
• Lessen post-traumatic stress
Access to therapy option:
Since nature surrounds us 24/7, this option is extremely accessible. However, if you are someone who needs an eco-therapist, you can check out http://www.natureandforesttherapy.org/find-a-guide.html to find an eco-therapist, or forest therapist, in your area.
How much is it:
Just being surrounded by nature isn’t necessarily associated with a cost. However, if you’re someone who needs an eco-therapist, a typical session can cost you around $250. However, the price will vary depending on the therapist and the location.
Insurance may cover eco therapy but it’s important to check with your insurance provider. This will depend on if the therapist is licensed, your insurance plan, and if your insurance provider deems it medically necessary.
What it is:
Laughter therapy, also known as humor therapy, is the usage of humor to promote your overall health and wellness. It aims to use the natural physiological of laughter to help relieve physical or emotional stress or discomfort.
Tons of research has been conducted on the potential therapeutic release that laughter may have. There are a ton of benefits to laughter therapy. Some of the benefits include:
• Boost in immunity
• Decrease in pain
• Prevention of heart disease
• Easing anxiety and tension
• Overall mood improvement
• Stress relief
• Strengthening of relationships
• Promotion of group bonding
• Helps to defuse conflict
Access to therapy option:
Laughter therapy has amazing access. Grab a few of your friends and tell some ridiculously funny stories or watch the silliest movie you can think of. If you are someone who might like a bit of control, you could try laughter yoga. Laughter yoga mixing laughter and yoga. To find a laughter yoga professional near you, check out https://laughteryoga.org/finder/find-ly-professionals/.
How much is it:
Laughter is free. However, if you’re interested in laughter yoga the cost will vary depending on the person giving the class and the location. An example cost is $25 for one class, $60 for 3 classes, or $35 for 2-3 people.
The cost of laughter yoga will depend upon if the teacher is licensed, your insurance policy, insurance provider, and if its deemed medically necessary.
What it is:
Dance therapy is a psychotherapeutic use of movement to promote emotional, social, cognitive, and physical integration of the individual for the purpose of improving health and well-being. Dance therapy emerged in the 1940s and has become increasingly popular since then. Dance therapy is great for just about anyone.
Many studies have been done to show the effects of dance therapy. Some benefits include:
• Reduction of anxiety
• Stress relief
• Increase in physical fitness and gross motor skills
• Improved confidence and self-esteem
• Encouragement of creativity and imagination
• Overall improvement in mood
Access to therapy option:
To find a dance / movement therapist in your area, check out https://adta.org/find-a-dancemovement-therapist/.
How much is it:
The cost will vary depending upon the location, therapist, and if you have an individual or group session. An example of cost is $60 – $100 for an individual one-hour session.
Insurance coverage of this option depends on your insurance provider, insurance coverage, and if the company deems it medically necessary.
What it is:
Heat therapy, also known as thermotherapy, is the usage of heat for therapeutic reasons. Heat therapy can involve the usage of saunas and hot water bottles or patches.
Often, heat therapy is used for those suffering from some sort of physical pain. However, there have been benefits for those with mental health issues. The usage of saunas have been studied and the benefits are as follows:
• Improvement of mood
• Reducing depression
• Reducing anxiety and stress
• Increase of endorphins and relieve of pain
• May be able to help those with ADHD
• Reduce the risk of dementia
• Reduce psychological symptoms of anorexia
• Reduce symptoms of chronic fatigue
Access to therapy option:
Since heat therapy can require different heated objects, it’s always available. Saunas can be found at gyms and you can even take warm baths or use hot water bottles.
How much is it:
If you’re interested in the sauna option, it would depend on the gym and your membership. Bubble baths are free and hot water bottles or heat patches can cost you $5 – $20.
Believe it or not, you can try to get your insurance company to pay for your infrared sauna. This can happen if you’re doctor recommends it as part of your health care. You can learn more about that here http://www.mindshiftweightloss.com/insurance/.
Culinary Art Therapy:
What it is:
Culinary art therapy is a relatively new method. Culinary art therapy can be used to help those with eating disorders, depression, addiction, anxiety, autism, learning disabilities, and ADHD. Classes are led by a trained counselor or a professional chef. This method is a branch off of Natalie Rogers, Carl Rogers daughter, expressive arts therapy.
Due to this being a new method, there has been studies done on it. Some of the benefits are as follows:
• Reduction of stress
• Increased self-esteem
• Brain development due to usage of senses
• Improvement of social skills
Access to therapy option:
Unfortunately, there isn’t a ton of access to this option. If you’re an individual who lives in Miami, FL, Michigan, or Sandy Springs, GA you won’t be able to find anything. However, it is possible that a clinic in your area that offers creative art therapies may have culinary art therapy.
How much is it:
The cost will depend on the therapist, or chef, and the location.
Since this is a relatively new therapy option, it’s unclear if insurance coverage is provided. It’s important to check with your insurance provider.
~ Angela Tilghman
What do you think about these interesting, amazing therapy options? Do you find it worth trying? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below!