At Haven Hills Recovery, we are well aware that a high percentage of the population we come in contact with will have a history or currently struggles with another co-occurring diagnosis additional to their primary struggle with eating. This has often been the main hindrance to continuous recovery for many people. For others, they rather accept their co-occurring diagnosis and struggle with the assimilation of their eating disorder and the toll it has taken in their personal lives. In these cases, the co-occurring diagnosis or label has provided the client with ample validation to continue their eating behaviors as opposed to accepting their eating disorder which would imply having to change their thought, emotional and behavioral patterns. Inadequate evaluation and treatment of multiple issues at once usually leads to numerous failed attempts of treatment/recovery episodes. Perpetuating shame, which in turn revolves in making 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.
Mental Health (Co-Occurring):
- 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
- Substance Use Disorders
History of Adverse Traumatic Experiences
- Physical Abuse/Violence
- Mental/Verbal/Emotional Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- Grief and Loss
- Loss of loved ones
- Anticipatory Grief
- Sudden Loss
- Complicated Grief
- Loss of Hopes and Dreams
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
This definition of trauma is fairly broad. It includes responses to powerful one-time incidents like accidents, natural disasters, crimes, surgeries, deaths, and other violent events.
It also includes responses to chronic or repetitive experiences such as child abuse, neglect, combat, urban violence, concentration camps, battering relationships, and enduring deprivation.
This definition intentionally does not allow us to determine whether a particular event is traumatic; that is up to each survivor.