Eating Disorders as a Sign of Additional Problems

Eating Disorders as a Sign of Additional ProblemsEating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and compulsive overeating often accompany other psychological issues. In some cases they are caused by underlying conditions. In other cases the eating disorder may be the primary illness but other issues arise as secondary conditions. As with any disease eating orders with or without co-occurring issues must be diagnosed and treated by professionals. If left unaddressed they can cause irreversible physical and psychological damage or even death.

Common Psychological Disorders that Co-Occur with Eating Disorders

Eating disorders often appear as secondary issues to major psychological issues such as the following:

  • Depression
  • Self-esteem deficiency
  • Personality disorders
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Dissociative disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Cutting or other self-harm issues

Identifying any and all co-occurring psychological disorders is essential for long-term recovery. As with any serious psychological illness the emotional angst suffered by a person with an eating disorder makes him or her especially vulnerable to substance abuse and addiction. The brain will crave the temporary relief offered by drug or alcohol abuse and will use deeply ingrained, subconscious patterns to prevent the patient from getting clean.

Successful Treatment for Eating Disorders and Associated Issues

The brain controls a wide range of critical mental and bodily functions through an intricate and fragile system of chemical signals and responses in the brain. These include all daily activities and emotions such as the following:

  • Waking and sleeping
  • Romantic feelings and sexual response
  • Optimism
  • Aggression
  • Sadness and mourning
  • Relational bonding
  • Appetite and eating

Small boosts of certain “feel-good” chemicals are picked up by the reward center of the brain which uses a variety of psychological tools to reinforce whatever behavior caused those boosts. In a healthy person these chemical signals, responses and reactions reinforce positive behaviors such as the following:

  • Eating well
  • Exercising
  • Relational connectivity
  • Doing good things for others
  • Creative expression
  • Laughter

This same chemical system can reinforce negative, destructive and even lethal behaviors including the following:

  • Cutting
  • Avoiding Food
  • Violence
  • Lying
  • Stealing

Even an otherwise healthy activity such as exercise can become problematic for some people who simply can’t stop. Their brain craves the endorphins and adrenaline produced by the body as a result of the behavior, and the individual becomes addicted to that response in the same way that a heroin addict needs a fix.

In order to be free from eating disorders and harmful behaviors a person must reprogram his or her brain through careful rehabilitation. This most frequently happens through residential treatment but is occasionally administered in an outpatient format. Through careful monitoring, personal counseling, support group meetings, education and other specific tools, recovery experts help patients identify faulty thought patterns and to respond differently to cravings and urges.

Find Help for Eating Disorders Today

Please call our toll-free helpline any time of day or night, and let our specially trained counselors answer your questions and connect you with the best possible recovery tools for your specific needs. If someone you love is exhibiting symptoms of an eating disorder or other psychological problems, we can help you as well. The call is confidential and free, so you have nothing to lose. Every day that an eating disorder is allowed to continue increases the harm done to your physical and mental health. Get the help you need. Call today.