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The Relationship Between Eating Disorders and Anxiety


Many recognize the significant relationship between anxiety and eating disorders even when they haven’t been through any formal evaluation. Part of struggling with disordered eating can bring up feelings of shame and edginess, whether these characteristics were present before the onset or not. Part of Alsana’s treatment is to incorporate comprehensive mental health evaluation with treatment for eating disorders so that clients seeking recovery will find the best possible long-term, sustainable results.

Anxiety is a relatively broad term describing a normal human emotion people experience in response to stressors. There are a number of conditions that can influence fear, nervousness, apprehension, or worry. Anxiety becomes a problem when someone is unable to restore their sense of balance, their feeling become overly intense or disproportionate to a situation. In many cases where people struggle with anxiety, it can increase the likelihood of developing other issues if not diligently treated.

In a 2004 study, it was discovered about two-thirds of people with eating disorders have suffered from an anxiety disorder at some point, and 42% of that population developed their anxiety disorder during childhood, before the onset of their eating disorder. (http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/eating-disorders) It has been suggested that controlling food, weight, and exercise, indirectly grants the anxiety sufferer  a false sense of control. While this may seem to temporarily relieve symptoms these learned behaviors, however, are ultimately more damaging to overall health.

Anxiety and eating disorders when treated together can be evaluated for their connectedness and solved for root core issues. Recovery from only one disorder independently will not ensure recovery from the other, so it’s important treatment address both issues. A well-established, highly effective, and lasting treatment will examine various factors, such as environmental or social, genetics and family history, physiological and cognitive behavioral patterns. Through getting to the heart of these issues, it is possible to achieve a workable foundation for recovery.


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