Anorexia Articles

Is Anyone Normal Today?

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Is Anyone Normal Today?Take a minute and answer this question: Is anyone really normal today?

I mean, even those who claim they are normal may, in fact, be the most neurotic among us, swimming with a nice pair of scuba fins down the river of Denial. Having my psychiatric file published online and in print for public viewing, I get to hear my share of dirty secrets—weird obsessions, family dysfunction, or disguised addiction—that are kept concealed from everyone but a self-professed neurotic and maybe a shrink.

“Why are there so many disorders today?” Those seven words, or a variation of them, surface a few times a week. And my take on this query is so complex that, to avoid sounding like my grad school professors making an erudite case that fails to communicate anything to average folks like me, I often shrug my shoulders and move on to a conversation about dessert. Now that I can talk about all day.

Here’s the abridged edition of my guess as to why we mark up more pages of the DSM-IV today than, say, a century ago (even though the DSM-IV had yet to be born).

When Mental Illness Stigma Turns Inward

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

When Mental Illness Stigma Turns InwardIt’s said that people with mental illness face a double-edged sword.

Not only do they have to contend with serious, disruptive symptoms, they still have to deal with rampant stigma. Sadly, mental illness is still largely shrouded in stereotypes and misunderstanding.

Stigma also can lead to discrimination. Yes, even in this enlightened day and age, it doesn’t appear as though prejudice and discrimination against individuals with mental illness are decreasing. (This study shows in some cases, it might even be increasing.)

We see stigma everywhere. Every time violence is automatically connected to mental illness in an article or news report, we see it.*

We see it in movies and other forms of media. We see it at work where stereotypes might be perpetuated, where employees are afraid to “come out” with their diagnosis.

Eating Disorders Awareness Week: How Parents Can Help

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, which is sponsored by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).

Like I said in my post on Weightless, I believe that awareness means spreading accurate information about eating disorders.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that parents cause eating disorders. They don’t!

In fact, many complex factors are involved in predisposing a person to an eating disorder. According to eating disorder specialist Sarah Ravin, Ph.D:

“…the development of an eating disorder is influenced very heavily by genetics, neurobiology, individual personality traits, and co-morbid disorders. Environment clearly plays a role in the development of eating disorders, but environment alone is not sufficient to cause them.”

(Check out her blog post for more.)

But while parents don’t cause eating disorders, they can make a difference in their child’s life by creating a safe, diet-free and nurturing environment.

As Kenneth L. Weiner, M.D., co-founder and CEO of the Eating Recovery Center, said recently:

“Because eating disorders are genetic, an individual who has a family history is much more likely to be sensitive to others’ words and actions surrounding food and body image. It’s important for families to talk about these deadly diseases and avoid behaviors and actions that could act as eating disorder triggers.”

Below Dr. Weiner and other eating disorder specialists from the Eating Recovery Center share some of the ways you can help your child. (I think these tips are relevant for all kids):

Men Get Eating Disorders Too

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

Men Get Eating Disorders, TooGinger Emas has written an interesting piece about men and eating disorders. It piqued my interest because a friend of mine once asked me if she should be concerned about her son’s eating habits. He counted calories, stayed away from sweets, and was a tad obsessive about a healthy diet. I told her not to sweat it, buying into the cultural myth that boys don’t get eating disorders. Now I know they do. To get to Ginger’s original article on ShareWIK, click here. I have reprinted it with permission below.

Usually when we talk about body image issues, we’re talking about girls. But did you know that more than one million boys and men struggle with eating disorders? More than 80 percent of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat. More than 10 percent of middle school boys have used steroids. These are boys who don’t understand why they should brush their teeth every night; how can they possibly understand the repercussions of starving or using steroids?

Statistics About College Depression

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Statistics About College DepressionSince it is going back-to-school season, I thought I’d educate you on some alarming statistics about depression among college students. Here are the facts, just the facts:

One out of every five young people and one out of ever four college students or adults suffers from some form of diagnosable mental illness.

About 19 precent of young people contemplate or attempt suicide each year.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among people ages 15-24, and the second leading cause of death in college students ages 20-24.

Over 66 percent of young people with a substance use disorder have a co-occurring mental health problem.

How Swimming Reduces Depression

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

How Swimming Reduces DepressionI’ve always known that I climb out of any pool a lot happier than when I dove in.

Yes, I know any kind of aerobic exercise relieves depression.

For starters, it stimulates brain chemicals that foster the growth of nerve cells; exercise also affects neurotransmitters such as serotonin that influence mood and produces ANP, a stress-reducing hormone, which helps control the brain’s response to stress and anxiety. But swimming, for me, seems to zap a bad mood more efficiently than even running. Swimming a good 3000 meters for me can, in the midst of a depressive cycle, hush the dead thoughts for up to two hours. It’s like taking a Tylenol for a headache! It was with interest, then, that I read an article in “Swimmer” magazine about why, in fact, that’s the case.

Obesity or an Eating Disorder: Which Is Worse?

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Obesity or an Eating Disorder: Which Is Worse?I fear that I’m giving my daughter an eating disorder with intentions of teaching her how to eat right. Which begs the question: which is more harmful — obesity (and diabetes) or an eating disorder?

I’ve implemented a “one-treat rule” in our home, which simply means that if my kids get ice-cream after school, they have already had their treat and don’t get dessert after dinner. I try to explain as delicately as I can that too many sweets and too much junk food makes you sick. Fat too, yes. But, more importantly, sick.

“What happens when you eat more than one treat?” my daughter asked me awhile back. And, well, I’m not proud of this, but I think I said, while my mind was somewhere else: “You blow up.”

So yesterday she had a snow cone at the pool. That was supposed to be her treat for the day. But when we went to a lacrosse party later that day, a fellow mom trained at Le Cordon Bleu made these amazing cupcakes with the team’s logo designed with butter cream icing. Katherine instinctively grabbed one, but then ran to me, asking, “Will I blow up if I eat this?”

The Pocket Therapist: Mental Health To Go!

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

The Pocket Therapist: Mental Health To Go!Imagine a GPS navigational system that said something like this: “In approximately 30 minutes, you will run into your old boss, who will want to make you feel like a worthless pile of feces. Erect personal boundaries immediately…. I said, Get in your bubble, Woman … Are you listening? She’s approaching you on your left. Lock up all childhood tapes now (the ones that convinced you that were weak, ugly, and pathetic) and DO NOT, I said DO NOT play them for her. Remember, their messages are no longer valid. Proceed carefully. You will speak to her in approximately 3, no 2, no 1 second.”

Me? I would like one of those.

So I made one. In book form.

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2010

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Eating disorders affect five times as many people as schizophrenia, and twice as many people who have Alzheimer’s disease. And yet Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia …

Fat Talk Free Week

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Talking about our weight, the circumference of our thighs or our disastrous double chin is as natural (and hard to resist) as comparing ourselves to …

Q&A with Julie Holland

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Julie Holland, MHS, CEDS, is recognized in the industry as both a clinician and public speaker. A certified eating disorders specialist, she has directed marketing …

Minding the Media: Ralph Lauren Sinks Lower and Lower

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Model Filippa Hamilton — 5’10″ and 120 pounds — recently was fired from Ralph Lauren for being fat.

According to Hamilton, who had worked for …

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