Along with depression, anxiety and other mood disorders, Eating Disorders are considered one of the top 10 mental health issues affecting Canadians today. According to the National Initiative for Eating Disorders (NIED), approximately 1 million Canadians have a diagnosis for an eating disorder.
According to the NIED, Eating Disorders has the highest overall mortality rate of any mental illness, with suicide attempts being high amongst those with this diagnosis.
While it would be natural to think that food is at the center of the problem, eating disorders are quite often about the desire for control, or as a way of coping with problems. They are usually further complicated by a person’s poor self worth and sense of identity.
Social media has had a big impact on how people view themselves and their bodies. It has been relentless in their portrayal of the perfect body and image.
Young girls and teenagers are increasingly concerned about their weight, shape, size, image, and consequently, they impose on themselves a strict diet to look “perfect”. These behaviours are considered high risk factors for the development of an eating disorder.
The 3 most common eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge-Eating Disorder.
Anorexia Nervosa is characterised by a near-starvation diet, or an intense exercise regiment, in an attempt to restrict weight gain. People with this disorder believe that their body is bigger than it actually is, feel overweight, and has an abnormal fear of gaining weight. They are constantly thinking about their weight, and believe that their life would be much better if they were thin, or thinner. Weight is often used as a measure of their self-worth.
Bulimia Nervosa is a eating disorder that involves binge-eating, followed by purging (forced vomitting) in an attempt to restrict food and weight gain. Like Anorexia Nervosa, people with Bulimia feel they are overweight, when they are not.
Similarly, they use weight as a measure of their self-worth.
Binge-eating disorder is characterised by a period of over-eating, or uncontrolled gorging on food. People who experience this disorder feel they have little control over how much they eat, and as a result, feel distressed, depressed or ashamed after a period of binge-eating.
Eating disorders can lead to serious health problems, affecting your heart, blood pressure, kidneys, gastro-intestinal tract, and your mouth, throat and teeth. Additionally, it could also affect fertility in women.
However, eating disorders are treatable with the right approach and support.
Counselling for Eating Disorders
Counselling helps people with eating disorders come up with a plan and strategies to manage the factors that led to/affect their disorder. These strategies may include problem solving, stress management, and relaxation techniques.
Therapies that help include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), interpersonal therapy, nutrition counselling and education.
Support groups for people with the same diagnosis may prove to be helpful, as individuals support and encourage each other in a safe and healthy environment without fear of shame and guilt.
Family members are also encouraged to help their loved ones overcome their eating disorder by being supportive, providing encouragement and validation for their efforts, and by helping them come up with new ways of problem-solving.
Call us today and find out what our experienced counsellors could do for you or a loved one who is experiencing an eating disorder.