Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder are recognized by psychologists and psychiatrists around the world and can result in severe co-morbidities and even death if left untreated. With the continued social stigma attached to eating disorders and in general, mental health disorders; often times it can be challenging to discern the truth from fiction. New innovations in treatment and new insights on eating disorders are continuously being published however the mainstream media often does not shed light on these important findings. Below are three published articles that had eating disorders professionals talking this week.
The U.S. military is one of the most powerful aspects of the United States government and has a large presence throughout the world. Men and women in the military are perceived as both physically and mentally strong according to society and nothing should weaken them. Unfortunately, this myth is far from the truth. Military personal in combat are at risk for mental health disorders such as depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as eating disorders. This article sheds light on a young woman who was honorably discharged from the military after being diagnosed with binge-eating disorder. She is actively raising awareness about eating disorders in the military and studies have shown that 34 percent of women in the military suffer from an eating disorder.
“To some degree, it’s fair to say that the realities of life in the military—scarcity of food during training, an emphasis on extremes/all or nothing, and the expectation that we should all be doing everything we can to push our bodies to be as lean and high-performance as possible— contributed to the development of my eating disorder”.
Anorexia nervosa, binge-eating disorder and bulimia nervosa are the most common eating disorders in the United States and affect approximately 30 million individuals. A Caucasian young thin teenage girl from an upper middle class society is the typical poster child for eating disorders in the United States however this image is far from reality. The majority of clients with eating disorders are actually adults. Although the average age of diagnosis is 15 years of age, the average length of an eating disorder is six to eight years, therefore increasing this statistic to over the age of 18 years old. Seeking treatment as a teenager compared to an adult is vastly different as children are generally admitted before they have a life-threatening illness and many child psychiatrists and psychologists have some training in eating disorders compared to their adult counterparts. Increasing access to treatment for adults and raising awareness that adults are the majority of individuals who have eating disorder is imperative in order to combat this potentially deadly disease.
Although “obesity” is not considered an eating disorder it can lead to any health complications including diabetes and heart disease. Additionally many individuals who have binge-eating disorder are overweight or “obese” and therefore “obesity” could potentially be tied to an eating disorder. Preliminary research on noninvasive brain-stimulation techniques has shown promising results to reduce food consumption and fight “obesity”. The area of the brain that is targeted is the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which is linked to dietary self-control.
“Bulimia includes cyclical binge-eating episodes followed by purging behaviors such as self-induced vomiting or laxatives. Anorexia may also include binging and purging, but its hallmark feature is dangerously low body weight. Some initial findings have suggested that rTMS may reduce short-term binging in people with bulimia, Hall and his colleagues said. However, no longer-term benefits have materialized yet”