When someone has an eating disorder, their goal is to eliminate the disorder from their life. In most cases, this involves engaging in an appropriate treatment program, such as one that provides anorexia nervosa treatment. The phrases “recovery,” “in recovery” and “recovered” are often used interchangeably, which can be confusing for the people involved in the process, as well as those who have loved ones with an eating disorder. For this reason, it is important to define these terms clearly.
Monte Nido Eating Disorder Center of Manhattan Lead Therapist Colleen Baker, LMSW shares her soulful journey to joining the Monte Nido team in this week’s blog post. Learn more about Colleen and her work at Monte Nido Manhattan…
Share about your background and what led you to Monte Nido:
I became passionate about the field of eating disorder treatment and recovery through my own recovery process, finding my way into advocacy work and non-profits such as NEDA and Project HEAL in college and exploring these interests/opportunities further upon my arrival to graduate school for social work in New York CIty. Through the incredible souls that I met within these organizations, I found my way to Monte Nido, a treatment program I had been admittedly following and dreaming of working at for years, and began my work at the end of grad school at Monte Nido River Towns (“Irvington,” officially, at the time) as a recovery coach (“mental health worker” at the time). After about a year of recovery coaching in a residential setting, I had the opportunity to move onto EDTNY and become a Primary Therapist. I ultimately became Lead Therapist there about a year and a half later and I’ve been in that role ever since. From River Towns to EDTNY, I’ve been in awe of the soul and spirit that exists within this company and have met many of my current best friends, mentors and colleagues for life. Continue reading…
The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) states that binge eating disorder (BED) could potentially be the most prevalent eating disorder in the United States. Females are the most affected, with as many as 3.5 percent of women who could potentially benefit from attending an eating disorder recovery center. An estimated two percent of males also have BED. Yet, BED is still highly misunderstood. Similar to any eating disorder, BED is a complex psychological disorder and diagnosis and treatment should be completed in a professional and compassionate way.
While there is no exact cause of binge eating disorder, there are some common risk factors. While receiving care at an eating disorder treatment center, it is important to examine, with the guidance of an eating disorder professional, the underlying factors that contribute to the disorder. This information can guide the treatment and recovery process. Take a look at some of the common underlying risk factors that may lead to binge eating disorder or the need for an eating disorder treatment center near them.
Age as a Potential Underlying Factor
People of any age group can develop an eating disorder and have a need for obsessive eating disorder treatment, including treatment for BED. However, the condition most often begins to develop in the late adolescent years or early twenties, according to NEDA. This fact suggests age could play an important role in how at risk an individual may be of developing binge eating disorder. Unfortunately, because binge eating disorders are so misunderstood and the symptoms often downplayed, diagnosis can oftentimes take many years to be properly assessed.
History of Eating Disorders
Binge eating disorder is three times as common as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa combined. However, the potential development of BED can increase if the individual has been diagnosed with another eating disorder in the past. Additionally, some eating disorder presentations can be the same across any eating disorder. Common traits can include:
- Obsessive behaviors associated with food
- Erratic thought patterns about self image or dieting
- Discomfort with eating in public or in the presence of others
- History of depression, anxiety or other mood disorders
Because some of the traits associated with eating disorders can be similar, individuals can experience multiple presentations of their eating disorder over their life. In other words, individuals who have already been diagnosed with an eating disorder or who have entered obsessive eating disorder treatment in the past may be at higher risk of developing BED.
Relative Conditions That Can Pose a Risk
If an individual has a certain disorder, such as Prader-Willi disorder that results from a lesion in the hypothalamus and is usually present at birth, they can be more at risk of developing binge eating disorder. The reasoning behind this is the hypothalamus gland is partly responsible for eating behaviors, such as signaling when a person is hungry or letting them know when they feel full. Therefore, someone with Prader-Willi disorder may not be able to control their eating habits and present with binge eating disorder symptoms. Some of the symptoms of Prader-Willi disorder, which is most often diagnosed in the early stages of infancy, include:
- Poor muscle tone
- Certain facial features, such as almond-shaped eyes or a thin upper lip
- Poor response to stimulation, such as a weak cry or sleeping more than usual
- Underdeveloped genitals
- Constant craving for food
- Unusual food seeking behaviors
- Poor growth and physical development
- Delayed motor development
A History of Dieting
Individuals who develop an eating disorder may have a more obsessive tendency toward dieting or weight control. Even though a history of excessive dieting is most often associated with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, it can also be present with individuals who have received a binge eating disorder diagnosis. People may severely restrict their food intake to a point they then turn to binge behaviors as a response to feelings of extreme hunger or deprivation of energy (calories) to the body.
Just because someone is dieting does not necessarily mean they have an eating disorder. It is important discredit that assumption. However, there is a fine line before dieting can lead to obsessive or compulsive tendencies toward food, diet and fitness. When a patient enters an eating disorder treatment center, they will work with nutritional and medical experts to help them understand and implement proper techniques to replace the disordered behaviors and replace them with more positive, recovery focused actions.
Sexual Abuse and Childhood Trauma
Sexual abuse and other traumatic events at an early age can put a person more at risk of developing an eating disorder The relationship between the psychological trauma and eating disorders can be difficult to understand from an outside perspective, but many people who enter an eating disorder recovery center do report they have experienced either sexual abuse as a child or some emotional trauma. Many times, PTSD or other forms of trauma will be treated concurrently with BED when a client enters an eating disorder recovery center.
Co-Occurring Mental Health Conditions
A large percentage of individuals who have been diagnosed with binge eating disorder report they also experience anxiety, depression, excessive worry or high levels of stress. In fact, the majority of people who seek treatment for BED may also be diagnosed with comorbid disorders; additionally, individuals with an eating disorder can also be prone to substance abuse issues.
Depression is one of the most common mental health issues associated with binge eating disorder, although depression can be present long before the eating disorder itself, making it a potential contributing factor. Obsessive-compulsive disorder may also be present and can be tightly woven with the symptoms of a binge eating disorder, as well as other types of eating disorders
Genes and brain chemistry are both thought to be linked to the vulnerability of developing binge eating disorder. The central nervous system, which plays a large role in eating habits, is affected by genetics and brain chemistry. Therefore, individuals with a genetic predisposition because of central nervous system issues or issues with how the gut functions could be at a greater risk of developing binge eating disorder. Research relative to underlying biological vulnerability and eating disorders is limited, but the proposed link is enough that greater attention is being placed on possible genetic influence among people who have been diagnosed with an eating disorder.
Individuals with a skewed focus on societal expectations and how it relates to personal body image can be at a higher risk of developing an eating disorder. Excessive social media use has been associated with triggering obsessive eating disorder symptoms, especially in younger female adolescents who may already struggle with body image and low self-esteem. A certain image is displayed by the media or online that is oftentimes completely illogical and unobtainable, which can leave vulnerable individuals constantly working to achieve an impossible appearance.
It is suspected there are some occupations and careers that may make individuals more susceptible to developing binge eating disorder. For example, individuals who work in the modeling or entertainment industry may be more vulnerable because an unrealistic body image may be highlighted in these fields. Athletes may also be at a higher risk of developing an eating disorder than individuals who work in more traditional roles because they are constantly put into positions where they have to alter their physical stature. It is important to note that although eating disorder treatment centers may see clients with occupations in these fields, but a certain occupation does not necessarily make one at risk for binge eating disorder.
When children are raised in an environment in which eating disorders are present, it may make the child more at risk of developing an eating disorder. The link between family history of eating disorders and the development of eating disorders can be relative to environmental exposure as well as potential genetic predisposition. However, if there is a family history present, whether it is a parent, sibling or otherwise, the risks are elevated. In some situations, eating disorder behaviors are learned from adults through childhood, which means the behaviors grow to be acceptable or comfortable.
Binge Eating Disorder Treatment at Monte Nido
Binge eating disorder recovery can be a complicated process. Every client who commits to recovery will have different underlying issues that can play a part in their eating disorder behavior. At Monte Nido, we create a personalized plan of action for treatment after in-depth consultations with incoming clients. As part of this process, we take a look at all proposed risk factors and how they should be addressed.
Monte Nido has been well respected in the eating disorder community for more than 20 years. The tenured, compassionate staff members, homelike facilities and dedication to our clients make Monte Nido a preferred treatment option. Our programs combine state-of-the-art medical and psychiatric treatment, high quality therapy and 24 hour care for our clients.
Our binge eating programs are available in multiple locations and in several states across the country. We provide residential and day treatment programs. If you are looking for eating disorder treatment near you for yourself or a loved one, reach out to us to speak with a representative.
Becky Henry is trained as a Certified, Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC), ACC and provides radical support for caregivers to become effective guides for their loved one in eating disorder recovery. In this post, Becky discusses Support that is essential when a child is in recovery.
My Jan 24, 2018 article: What Parents and Health Care Professionals can Expect from Residential Eating Disorders Treatment, highlighted 15 points for parents to consider and prepare for while a child is in a RTC. I promised I’d go into more depth on each point. Please note that these pertain to anyone who cares about someone in recovery, I use ‘parents’ simply because they make up the majority of my coaching practice.
You may recall from my article; What Parents and Health Care Professionals Can Expect from Residential Treatment that the 3rd step necessary for parents is support. Here I’m going into depth on the topic of Support.
SUPPORT: Get support to fill your cup up. This is the next step to maintaining your physical and mental health and being able to effectively support your child in recovery, calmly. Support is available – reaching out for help for you is okay.
Have you been hearing lately that you need to get support as the caregiver?
What’s up with Becky ALWAYS saying, “Get support to fill your cup up?”
You are likely experiencing what most parents & other caregivers feel. Something like, “What are you talking about? My loved one is very sick and could die and you’re telling me to get support to take care of ME!?”
I get it. Most of us have failed miserably at it…until we figure out it is essential to practice self care and that we need support to be able to do it.
Getting support to practice self-care is essential for our health and wellbeing AND for our loved one.
Most of my clients have tried to be a caregiver 24/7 without an oxygen mask, having an empty cup with holes in it and no visible means of support. This works for a short while…until it doesn’t. Much like a car running out of gas…it will run on fumes for a short distance and then it simply stops.
Please don’t wait until you’re exhausted, bitter, angry, drained, hopeless, feeling helpless, overwhelmed and ready to give up.
One client told me that she resisted my challenges to practice self-care for a long time before she came to a couple of my retreats and then she was able to shift her beliefs about self-care. She’d had long held beliefs that self-care was selfish. That mothers should be martyrs. Good mothers that is…she’s not alone.
Self-care and having support to practice it is not a magic bullet and has no guarantees. I know…life can stink like that sometimes. AND, I can tell you that 100% of the time when my coaching clients have fully embraced getting their oxygen mask on, filling up their cup and diligently practicing self-care…their loved ones have dramatically improved in their recovery.
The complex nature of eating disorders and their symptoms cause these conditions to have a profoundly negative impact on quality of life. From bulimia nervosa to selective eating disorder, each condition presents unique challenges that must be addressed in an eating disorder treatment program. Across all eating disorder conditions, disordered thoughts and actions can quickly lead to compulsions that threaten to overtake every minute of daily life. Without care at effective eating disorder treatment centers, patients often work overtime attempting to maintain habits centered around eating disorder symptoms.
This exhausting way of life can quickly break down even the strongest of people, as they try to juggle their eating disorder and daily obligations. Fortunately, help can be found at eating disorder treatment centers that focus on helping their patients become and remain recovered. Through the journey toward a full recovery, patients learn how to maintain healthy thought patterns and behaviors with evidence-based therapy models.
Insights on how eating disorder symptoms can negatively impact daily life can assist patients in determining if they are ready to work toward becoming recovered. With this guide, patients can not only learn how eating disorders affect the quality of life but also how treatment centers can help with those issues.
Types of Eating Disorders That Can Negatively Impact Quality of Life
Whether they occur on their own or together, eating disorders of all kinds can have a negative impact on quality of life. Eating disorders that can impede daily activities and otherwise decrease the patient’s quality of life include bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and restrictive food intake disorder.
Each of these eating disorders requires a personalized treatment approach that focuses on eliminating symptoms and replacing disordered thoughts and behavioral patterns. Using evidence-based care practices, eating disorder therapists can help their patients become recovered and regain their quality of life through the treatment of the eating disorders and their co-occurring conditions.
Daily Life Impacts from Eating Disorder Symptoms
In a 2013 study, results showed that people with eating disorders have a markedly decreased quality of life compared to the rest of the population. The type of symptoms the patients exhibited also had an impact on quality of life perceptions, with binging and purging behaviors having the biggest negative impact.
People with eating disorders experienced the most difficulties when their eating disorder symptoms progressed to a point that impaired their daily lives. The immense amount of time devoted to controlling food intake and physical activity, for example, can impede people’s ability to tend to their daily obligations, leading to problems down the road. The impairment of their daily lives and resulting dive in quality of life perceptions can increase motivation to become recovered, opening the doors for intake into an eating disorder recovery center.
Other aspects of the patient’s life may eventually start to decline, as the lack of attention results in noticeable impacts. A lack of treatment for eating disorders can lead to the breakdown of personal and professional relationships and connections that took a lot of work to establish. Therefore, it is important for people with eating disorders to seek prompt treatment upon becoming aware of the problem.
Any delay in acquiring treatment for eating disorders can lead to physical and mental health complications for the patient. These complications can make the journey toward recovery more challenging, but still approachable with help from knowledgeable eating disorder therapists.
Physical Health Repercussions of Eating Disorders
Without an adequate intake of food, and often in the face of excessive daily exercise, patients can suffer physical health repercussion from eating disorders rather quickly. The physical symptoms may initially manifest as stomach cramps, dizziness, fainting spells, dry skin, brittle nails, and muscle weakness. Weight loss may not actually be immediately noticeable, but will likely become obvious as the eating disorder progresses in severity.
As the low-calorie intake, and resulting vitamin deficiencies, continue to worsen, so do the physical symptoms. People with eating disorders start to grow fine hair all over their body, suffer tooth decay and damage, experience salivary gland swelling and other serious complications. Dehydration is almost always a concern as eating disorder symptoms worsen and take hold of daily life.
In the end, untreated eating disorders can even cause lasting damage to the internal organs, including the heart, kidneys, and liver. These physical symptoms tend to worsen the disordered thoughts and behaviors, as self-confidence decreases even further. The physical symptoms can also impair daily life by preventing freedom of movement and independent living. People with severe dizziness, for example, may not be able to drive themselves around until they are ready to complete treatment with help from an experienced therapist. Mental health complications can also impede daily life for people with untreated eating disorders.
Mental Health Complications Caused by Eating Disorders
Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and other types of eating disorders can have an incredibly negative impact on mental health. Eating disorder symptoms and behaviors can reinforce disordered thought patterns, leading to the constant degradation of self-esteem. Already low self-esteem levels may plummet as the disordered thought patterns and compulsive behaviors serve to reinforce each other. Furthermore, the disordered thoughts urges, and behaviors caused by eating disorders can lead to depression and anxiety.
Underlying mental health disorders can also contribute to the development of eating disorders. Effective eating disorder therapists must treat all mental health conditions and eating disorders to remove this link and help the patient become recovered. A multi-faceted approach to the eating disorder treatment process allows therapists to address all conditions at once and help the patient achieve their goals. With help from outside providers, the care process continues after patients leave the treatment program to promote continued recovery.
Widespread Impact on Quality of Life of People in the Patient’s Support System
Although the patient’s quality of life and journey remains paramount, eating disorders can have a negative impact on the lives of people in the inner social circle. These close friends and family members may have issues coping with the lifestyle changes and demands that come with many eating disorder symptoms. The physical and mental health repercussions can also cause people in the patient’s inner circle to worry and stress about their loved one. As these issues take a toll, the social circle loses its ability to adequately support the patient as they work toward pursuing selective eating disorder treatment.
With their understanding of the challenges that loved ones face in supporting others as they work toward becoming recovered from eating disorders. An excellent eating disorder recovery center will bring in family members for guided therapy sessions that renew bonds and strengthen the social circle of the patient. These sessions help to increase understanding and build connections that were damaged or lost before the patient entered selective eating disorder treatment.
How Becoming Recovered Can Improve Quality of Life
A constant preoccupation with controlling weight and tending to other eating disorder symptoms can decimate quality of life for patients and people in their support system. With the completion of a great eating disorder treatment program, however, people can restore their quality of life and strengthen connections with those in their inner social circle.
The treatment program focuses on teaching patients how to maintain a healthy weight and exercise routine without the use of overly restrictive behaviors and thought patterns. Upon leaving the treatment center, patients can utilize their skills to effortlessly maintain a healthy relationship with food and physical activity. The elimination of all eating disorder symptoms during the treatment process gives patients their lives back. Without these disordered thoughts and behaviors dominating the day, patients can work on their personal and professional goals without disruption.
Before entering eating disorder treatment programs, many people first experience a huge quality of life dip that has a ripple effect across their inner social circle. With help from a skilled eating disorder therapist, all quality of life decreases can be reversed with a return to healthy eating and exercise patterns.
Understanding How Eating Disorder Treatment Centers Help with Recovery
Eating disorder treatment centers often have several levels of care available for patients with different disorders and symptom severity. For all patients, the treatment centers around educating the client and supporting their switch to healthier habits and behaviors. Eating disorder treatment often includes individual, family and group therapy to give the patient insights and perspectives that broaden their view of the eating disorder and its effects.
While working toward becoming recovered, people with eating disorders learn how to eliminate restrictive behaviors and replace them with healthier alternatives. Throughout the process, patients receive support with handling their dietary intake, exercise and health needs. To promote continued recovery after leaving the eating disorder recovery center, therapists help their patients build a strong understanding of the appropriate expression of feelings and acceptance of their natural body shape.
Nutrition experts, doctors, and mental health professionals all contribute to the care of people in eating disorder treatment centers. These professionals collaborate to ensure the patient continues to make progress toward achieving their goal of eating disorder recovery. The medical and nursing care helps to mitigate the impact of eating disorders on the physical and mental health of the patient. This approach allows for the full treatment of all co-occurring conditions to give patients the best start in becoming recovered.
People with eating disorders can move through the different levels of care to receive comprehensive support every step of the way. Residential treatment programs can break the cycle of disordered thoughts and behaviors with relocation to a neutral setting. While in the residential treatment program, patients can work on achieving and maintaining eating disorder recovery with help from their therapists. Upon achieving key treatment goals, patients can move on to the day eating disorder treatment program to continue learning and building skills until they are ready to maintain recovery on their own.
Pursing Improved Quality of Life at an Eating Disorder Recovery Center
As quality of life declines in response to the impacts of eating disorders, patients can seek care at eating disorder treatment centers to become recovered. Eating disorder therapists can help their patients achieve their goals in achieving eating disorder recovery to regain their quality of life. Going through treatment for their eating disorders, and all underlying conditions also helps to restore the strength of bonds with people in the patient’s inner social circle.
Through bulimia, anorexia nervosa and selective eating disorder treatment programs, people can learn the coping and life skills they need to maintain proper eating and exercise patterns. The ability to achieve wellness comes much easier when people with eating disorders receive the support they need from a knowledgeable care team. People interested in acquiring support from a skilled therapist can call 888-228-1253 to speak to our admissions professionals. We will help all our patients reach their goals in entering an effective treatment program to achieve eating disorder recovery.