Co-Occurring Disorders

We strive to provide the best treatment for co-occurring disorders for women in a safe, comfortable environment.

At Haven Hills Recovery, we are well aware that a high percentage of the population with whom we come into contact will have a history of trauma or mental health issues, in addition to the presenting issues of eating disorders and/or substance misuse. Treating only the eating disorder or substance misuse, and not the underlying trauma or mental health issues, has often been the main hindrance to continued recovery for many people.

Inadequate evaluation and treatment of multiple issues at once usually leads to numerous failed attempts at treatment/recovery episodes. This perpetuates shame, which in turn makes symptoms for both disorders worse.

Here is a list of some of the most common disorders, syndromes and medical symptoms That Haven Hills’ clinical team is capable of assessing for and treating alongside the eating disorder and/or substance misuse.

Mental Health (Co-Occurring Disorders):

  • Depression
  • Panic and Anxiety Disorders
  • Social Phobia
  • Bi-Polar- I,II
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Self-Injurious symptoms
  • Body Dysmorphia

History of Adverse Traumatic Experiences

  • Abuse
  • Physical Abuse/Violence
  • Mental/Verbal/Emotional Abuse
  • Abandonment/Neglect
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Grief and Loss
  • Loss of loved ones
  • Anticipatory Grief
  • Sudden Loss
  • Complicated Grief
  • Loss of Hopes and Dreams

Contributing Factors

Research has shown that there is not a singular cause for eating disorders; rather there are a number of contributing factors that come together during the development of the disorder. The four main categories of contributing factors are, biological, psychological, interpersonal, and social/ cultural.

Biological and familial links have been found in eating disorder research, showing that eating disorders do tend to run in families where other eating disorders and addictions are present. Possible biochemical causes have been identified, showing abnormal serotonin activity in individual suffering from Anorexia Nervosa, and low levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in individual suffering from Bulimia Nervosa.

Psychological contributing factors include low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy or lack of control in life, depression, anxiety, anger, and loneliness. Individuals suffering from eating disorders often have difficulty regulating their emotions and tolerating distress in an adaptive way, which leads to utilizing numbing behaviors to manage emotions or rid themselves of discomfort. Personality traits such as, perfectionism, obsessive-compulsive, compliant, passive, introverted, conscientious, high-achieving, are often present in individuals suffering from eating disorders and co-occurring disorders.

Relationships are fundamental to human development and influence us on many levels throughout our lives, so of course there are factors that contribute to the development of eating disorders that are interpersonal in nature. Eating is an interpersonal experience from the moment of birth and relationships are central in the inception and maintenance of eating disordered behavior that can develop into an eating disorder. Early experiences and exposure to family attitudes about food, weight, body shape and weight, and family modeling of eating behavior are also identified as common contributing factors.

Social and cultural influences are also identified as a contributing factor to the development of eating disorders. Our cultures focus and obsession with attaining a “perfect body’, and the definition of beauty becoming more and more narrow and unattainable, contribute to the maladaptive belief systems of the eating disorder mindset. Our cultural norm of evaluating and ranking people based on physical appearance rather than their interpersonal strengths also reinforces many of the distorted thought processes present in individuals suffering from eating disorders.

Below is a list of other contributing factors often present at the onset and throughout the development and maintenance of eating disorders and common co-occurring disorders.

  • Low self-esteem
  • lack of identity
  • Need for distraction
  • Fill up emptiness (possibly due to loss)
  • Belief in a myth
  • Drive for perfection
  • High-achievement oriented
  • Desire to be special/unique
  • Need to be in control
  • Desire to be unique/special
  • Need to be in control
  • Desire for power over self/others/family/life
  • Desire for respect and admiration
  • Difficulty expressing feelings
  • Need for “safe place to go”/lack of coping skills
  • Lack of trust in self and others
  • Intense fear of not measuring up

“It is the subjective experience of the objective events that constitutes the trauma…The more you believe you are endangered, the more traumatized you will be…Psychologically, the bottom line of trauma is overwhelming emotion and a feeling of utter helplessness. There may or may not be bodily injury, but psychological trauma is coupled with physiological upheaval that plays a leading role in the long-range effects”

Because violence is everywhere in our culture and because the effects of violence and neglect are often dramatic and pervasive, most clients/patients/recipients of services in the mental health system are trauma survivors.

Haven Hills Recovery – San Diego Eating Disorder Treatment