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Eating disorders

 

A person has an eating disorder when thoughts, feelings and behavior in relation to food, body and weight begin to limit the unfolding of life and impair the quality of life. The person becomes over-concerned with body, weight, appearance and food intake.

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This writes Modum Bad on their website.

 

Different types of eating disorders

In the article on Modum Bad's website they further write that there are the following subtypes of eating disorders:  

 

  1. Anorexia nervosa

    • Severe underweight

    • Limits what and how much you eat

    • Intense fear of putting on weight

    • Feels that the body is large and thick, despite being underweight

    • Some people may have excessive exercise, self-induced vomiting and the use of laxatives

  2. Bulimia nervosa

    • Excessive preoccupation with figure and weight

    • Repeated episodes of overeating. Eat much more food than what others would eat in the same situation and an experience of loss of control over food intake

    • The episode is followed by self-induced vomiting, laxatives, fasting periods or overtraining to compensate for the large food intake and avoid weight gain

  3. Unspecified / atypical eating disorders

    Variants of eating disorders that do not quite fit into the diagnoses anorexia and bulimia.

    • Satisfies some of the criteria for anorexia / bulimia without satisfying all, or has mixed symptoms

    • Overeating episodes without the accompanying compensatory action present in bulimia

 

What is an eating disorder about?

On the surface, eating disorders are about food, body and weight. The underlying causes of a person developing an eating disorder are often more difficult to spot. The eating disorder is not incomprehensible, but can be difficult to understand. Low self-esteem is a hallmark of many people who develop an eating disorder. The perception of others can govern self-worth. It becomes difficult to like oneself and acknowledge one's own feelings.

Eating disorders are often a way of dealing with emotional chaos. The eating disorder can give an experience of having control and give a feeling of mastery. In transition phases, in case of loss or grief, violations, anxiety or unrest, a solution can be to create an overview of the chaos by taking control of food, body or exercise. The eating disorder acts as a coping mechanism, a protection against the feeling of never reaching, never being good enough, skilled enough or pretty enough.

The line between a strained relationship with food, body and weight and having an eating disorder is slippery. It is normal to have periods where you are dissatisfied with your own body, sloppy with your food or are extra focused on the "right" diet. We first talk about eating disorders when thoughts, feelings and behaviors related to food, body and weight overshadow everything else, and degrade the quality of life.

 

Can give a feeling of mastery

ROS.no writes:

The eating disorder is not incomprehensible, but can be difficult to understand. Low self-esteem is a hallmark of many people who develop an eating disorder. The perception of others can govern self-worth. It becomes difficult to like oneself and acknowledge one's own feelings.

They point out that an eating disorder is often a way of dealing with emotional chaos.

The eating disorder can give an experience of having control and give a feeling of mastery. In transition phases, in case of loss or grief, violations, anxiety or unrest, a solution can be to create an overview of the chaos by taking control of food, body or exercise. The eating disorder acts as a coping mechanism, a protection against the feeling of never reaching, never being good enough, skilled enough or pretty enough.

 

Some common signs of eating disorders

The following symptoms may be common in an eating disorder:

 

  1. Weight loss or large weight fluctuations
  2. Over-obsession with weight and body
  3. Stress and guilt after eating
  4. Development of abnormal eating habits, such as avoiding meals or consuming large amounts of food
  5. Compulsory training
  6. Contempt for one's own body, shape and appearance
  7. Mood swings and difficulty concentrating

 

What helps with eating disorders?

Most people who have an eating disorder recover, but not without expert help and / or treatment. Both experience and research indicate that the relationship between patient and therapist can have an impact on how and how quickly the treatment reaches the goal. 

Getting well is not something you have to do on your own. Many people need treatment, but not everyone has a treatment offer.

Guided self-help is an offer that is suitable for those who want to take on their own process and work with someone structured over time to get well. 

On nettros.no they write about treatment of eating disorders that the following services may be helpful:

 

  1. School nurse

    The school-affiliated nurse can be a natural place to start for the young person who is struggling with a difficult relationship with food, body, thoughts and emotions. The health nurse can assist in finding out what help or further treatment is needed. In the case of eating disorders, the health nurse can also be a good conversation partner and an important resource both for the person concerned and for relatives.

  2. Health center for young people

    Health center for young people is a place where young people can approach with various questions and issues related to food, body and exercise, sexuality, bullying, conflicts or when life feels difficult. If necessary, you can be referred to other agencies within the treatment apparatus.

  3. GP

    The GP is the hub for all treatment, either by the GP treating himself or referring on. If necessary, the GP can refer the patient to a psychologist, BUP or DPS. As a general rule, the GP is also responsible for the medical follow-up, such as blood tests. When referring further in the treatment apparatus, follow-up or conversation with the GP until treatment has started is recommended.

  4. Psychologist / Psychiatrist

    Many are referred to a psychologist for therapeutic treatment. There are various therapeutic directions in the treatment of eating disorders. Ex. cognitive therapy, behavioral dialectical therapy, expression therapy, etc. On the side Find a psychologist you can search for psychologists based on topic and form of work.

  5. Psychologist with the right to reimbursement requires referral from GP.

  6. Child and adolescent psychiatric outpatient clinic

    Treatment within the specialist health service for children and young people under 18 years of age. Also requires a referral from a GP or nurse. Here, assessment, treatment, counseling and facilitation are offered. The treatment is interdisciplinary. 

  7. Adult psychiatric outpatient clinic

    Treatment within the specialist health service for adults over 18 years of age. These clinics may offers both outpatient treatment and inpatient treatment. Requires usually a referral from a GP. Here, assessment, treatment, counseling and facilitation are offered. The treatment is interdisciplinary.

  8. Special units for eating disorders

    This is the specialist health service at hospital level. These conduct treatment and are responsible for continuing competence and guidance to other units as well as other treatment institutions.

 

Advice for relatives in the event of an eating disorder

Being a relative or in a close relationship with someone with an eating disorder can be very challenging and demanding. It is often the case that when one in the family is ill, it also affects the rest of the family. Relatives and loved ones often experience great despair and powerlessness over what to do and should do to help the sick.
It is important that relatives have the strength to be the support they are supposed to be, but if they are to manage this, they must also meet support and understanding.

 

Advice for parents and other relatives

 

  1. Anyone struggling with eating disorders needs confirmation in all areas. It is good to feel accepted without conditions. Try to show that he / she is appreciated, whether he / she eats or not.

  2. Be honest. With an open, honest and caring attitude, it is easier to get the role of supporter and not opponent. This helps to break the isolation and prevents anxiety and depression from getting stuck and becoming chronic

  3. If conflicts arise, do not give in for fear that the situation will get worse. It can lead you into vicious circles and destructive patterns of action.

  4. Feel free to talk about feelings and general problems about family, friends or the school situation.

  5. Try to divert attention away from food and weight. Rather encourage other interests and activities.

  6. Avoid remarks such as "You are destroying us all" or "You are driving us crazy" It places an unjustified responsibility for family health and well-being on those who have an eating disorder.

  7. Be clear and set boundaries, but avoid threats, coercion and surveillance. Try to understand the anxiety behind the compulsive relationship with food, body and weight.

  8. Try to give, but do not demand care for yourself. Seek help from professionals or talk to others who have been through a similar situation.

 

Cite this article

 

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Written by

ove heradstveit

Ove Heradstveit

Psychologist, specialist in clinical community psychology. PhD.
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