6 Myths about Anorexia Nervosa that You Need to Know

anorexia nervosa

6 Myths about Anorexia Nervosa that You Need to Know

When you think of Anorexia Nervosa what often comes to mind is a young emaciated girl. These images are what we see in the popular media. Unfortunately, these images are misleading and confusing. Media images contribute to myths about anorexia nervosa and what it really is and “looks” like. Below there are several common myths debunked about the disorder

What is Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by an intense fear of being fat (or gaining weight) despite being at a low weight, having a low caloric intake which leads to weight loss or poor weight gain/growth in children and the inability to evaluate own body size and shape. Meaning the sufferer thinks their body is larger that it is.Continue reading

Understanding the Anxiety-Eating Disorder Connection

Anxiety and Eating Disorders

Types of anxiety

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common types of mental health disorders in the U.S. They affect up to 18% of the U.S. Population. There are several different kinds of anxiety disorders including panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and generalized anxiety disorder. In this post, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) will be discussed.  GAD affects approximately 3.1% of the population. Women are more likely to experience GAD than men.

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

 

We all experience worry from time to time. It is normal to feel anxious before a test, a job interview or other big events. Normally, after the event, like a first date for example, the worry disappearsContinue reading

Perfectionism: Striving to be perfect.

Who doesn’t want to be perfect, right?  What’s wrong with perfectionism? We all want things to go well for ourselves in our career & school and personal lives.  Setting high standards can lead to high achievement.

Perfectionism, on the other hand, is striving for things to be perfect in most aspects of life, all of the time.  And when things don’t go perfect, as things often don’t in life, the person who suffers from perfectionism is self-critical and blaming.   This self-criticism, which often is intended to motivate, actually leads to poor self-esteem, extreme fear of failure and procrastination (“I can’t do it perfectly, so I won’t try”).  Perfectionism is a losing proposition.  We are human.  We are going to make mistakes.  Being perfect all of the time is an impossible standard to meet. Studies show that perfectionism can lead poor self-esteem, burn-out, procrastination, chronic stress, poor relationships, depression & anxiety, eating disorders and increases the risk for suicide.Continue reading

How an Eating Disorder (May Have) Saved Your Life

 

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I am being dramatic in saying that your eating problems saved your life, but my point is that your eating disorder or eating problem may have helped you in some way despite all of the pain it has caused you and your loved ones.   Please don’t misunderstand me I am not suggesting that you stay in your eating disorder if you are currently struggling with one.

Eating disorders do have many negative consequences, some that are life threatening.  And most likely your eating disorder in some way has helped you cope with life, hurt, family issues, trauma or other types of pain or discomfort.

In the world of psychotherapy we talk about coping skills, tools to use when life gets uncomfortable.  Coping skills that are encouraged are ones that help us through life’s challenges and that have few or no negative consequences.  Examples include hobbies, talking to friends, meditation, exercise, journal writing, etc.  Conversely coping skills that are discouraged, because they usually are associated with negative side effects, include things like excessive spending or drinking, avoidance, withdrawing, substance abuse, over or under eating, purging, over exercising etc.  What I am suggesting is that your eating problems or eating disorder may be helping you cope with life in someways.

Most of us are familiar with the negative consequences of say binge eating or purging, but don’t realize that these behaviors may also provide a short-term relief from anxiety or stress.

Seeing eating problems or eating disorders as a coping skill offers perspective and can help reduce feelings of shame and guilt often associated with eating disorders.  I am not proposing that those who suffer from an eating disorder should continue with their eating disorder, I am simply saying it can help to see the disorder for what it is and can be a powerful step in healing from eating problems.

It can be empowering to say “Yes,I have an eating disorder and it helped me in a lot of ways, but now I want to learn new ways to cope with life”.

In my next post I will share a wonderful video clip of Dr. Anita Johnston who uses a metaphor to further illustrate this idea.