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Eating Disorders Caused by Trauma

By February 27, 2018May 21st, 2021Blog

There is a common belief that eating disorders are completely under the control of the one’s affected and nothing more.  They see it as a deliberate, lifestyle choice rather than the psychological, serious condition that it is. Eating disorders are very serious and potentially fatal illnesses that cause extreme instability in someone’s eating behaviors.

Eating disorders are rarely ever just caused by bad eating habits. They are typically triggered after suffering through a trauma.


Types of Eating Disorders

The three main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. There are several different variations of these three disorders, however these are the most common.

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that results in a person viewing themselves as being overweight, regardless of what they actually look like. People with anorexia will typically weigh themselves repeatedly and severely restrict their caloric intake. Additional symptoms of this eating disorder include:

  • Thinning of bones
  • Anemia
  • Constipation
  • Low blood pressure, slowed breathing and pulse
  • Muscle wasting and weakness
  • Brittle hair and nails
  • Brain and heart damage
  • Multi-organ failure

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder that results in frequent, uncontrollable, and reoccurring episodes of consuming un-healthily large quantities of food followed by forced vomiting, use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, excessive exercise, or a combination of them. People with this eating disorder will suffer from the following symptoms:

  • Chronically inflamed, sore throat
  • Swollen salivary glands in the neck and jaw area
  • Acid reflux disorder as well as other gastrointestinal problems
  • Intestinal distress from use of laxatives
  • Severe dehydration
  • Electrolyte imbalance which can potentially cause a stroke or heart attack.

Binge-eating disorder is an eating disorder similar to bulimia nervosa, however people with binge-eating disorder will just lose control over their eating and not purge or fast. As a result, people with this eating disorder tend to be overweight or obese. Symptoms for Binge-eating disorder include:

  • Eating until uncomfortably full
  • Eating alone or in secret to avoid embarrassment
  • Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss
  • Feeling distressed, ashamed, or guilty about eating
  • Eating unusually large amounts of food in a specific amount of time
  • Eating even when full or not hungry
  • Eating fast during binge episodes


What is trauma?

There is an undeniable relationship between eating disorders and trauma. A study in 2007 showed that there are many types of trauma that can be associated with eating disorders including neglect, sexual assault and harassment, physical abuse and assault, emotional abuse, emotional and physical neglect, and bullying.

No one is entirely sure as to why trauma contributes to the development of eating disorders. However, it is known that trauma causes a disruption in the nervous system which can make it difficult for individuals to control and manage their emotions resulting in the development of an eating disorder as a way to cope with what they are going through.

Trauma is characterized as physical or emotional damage caused by a traumatic event.

Trauma typically results in the following feelings and symptoms:

  • Feelings of shock, anger, or fear
  • Feeling helpless
  • Trouble sleeping and concentrating
  • Revengeful thoughts
  • Feeling embarrassed about telling family and friends


Early Intervention and Treatment is Important

Intervene as soon as possible on behalf of someone suffering from eating disorders. As time goes on, eating disorders will become more and more destructive and can be potentially fatal if not treated early.

Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) is an innovative, evidence-based therapy for PTSD, anxiety, depression, stress and similar mental health issues. Initially, the therapy was primarily used to help veterans suffering from PTSD. One of the major advantages is the speed at which ART is able to bring relief. Generally, only one to five sessions are needed, not months or years of expensive psychiatric treatment.

Accelerated Resolution Therapy works by reprogramming the traumatic memories that are preventing a person from enjoying the full life they deserve. The techniques work equally well on anyone suffering from trauma, regardless of the type of trauma experienced. Trauma, at the end of the day, is still trauma.

Regardless of how bad things may be, there is always hope and always someone available to help you through difficult times. Do not let an eating disorder get in the way of your happiness. Contact ART International to learn more or find a therapist near you.