Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by a few specific requirements. First of all, with any eating disorders, there is a preoccupation with food and body which interrupts with the natural flow of life. The obsession with weight, body image, and food is a surface level issue masking deeper underlying problems for which an individual is using eating disorder behaviors to cope. Eating disorders thrive deep within the brain. Unlike other addiction-comparative mental illnesses, eating disorders are not entirely focused around pleasure. Though those suffering from anorexia to create a reward based system for starvation and achieving what they believe to be their ideal body weight or body image, the neuroscience model of the eating disorder is based more on habit than pleasure. Typically, underneath the surface of anorexia is a need for perfectionism, which is a need for control, which is usually based in some kind of trauma. Trauma does not have to be specific for eating disorders. It could be rooted in something like bullying, abandonment, or co-occurring mental illnesses which can feel out of control when not properly diagnosed and treated.
Starvation, restriction, and compensation methods like excessive exercise are all common for anorexic behaviors. Extreme dieting, food avoidance, and even social avoidance due to food “fears” will be common behaviors. Anorexia can be tame and it can be severe. Sadly, in order to qualify for treatment, many insurance providers and doctors have created an extreme of an individual needing to be at a dangerously low weight. However, both men and women can struggle with symptoms of anorexia for decades, slowly compromising their heart health, physical health, and mental health without being treated.
Three specific qualifications separate anorexia from other eating disorders. First, there is the chronic and repetitive act of restricting or starving oneself regarding food. The goal with this behavior is to lower body weight, due to a fixation on a particular number, and the idea that reaching that number will provide relief. Second, the inspiration behind the restricting and starvation is a few of gaining weight. Other eating disorder related issues like body dysmorphic disorder are zeroed in on body image and appearing unattractive. Anorexia, however, is more inspired by a fear of gaining weight, which would indicate a loss of control. Lastly, there are elements of body dysmorphia in which an individual does not see their body for what it is- essentially never being thin enough, and always perceivable as “fat” or overweight.
Recovery for eating disorders is possible and is often successful with few incidences of long term relapses.
Aurora Recovery Centre provides residential treatment programs for both men and women struggling with eating disorders and any co-occurring mental health disorder or substance use disorder, which is common. For more information, call us today at 844-515-STOP.