January 8, 2015 by Castlewood Treatment Center in Eating Disorder Treatment Identifying an eating disorder and its cause isn’t as much about food as it is about underlying issues. The most common condition that leads to restricting food or binging and purging is anxiety. Often anxiety will precede an eating disorder as an individual begins to experience symptoms of worry to turn to issues like food, weight, and exercise.
Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed, and the signs and symptoms will be impairing to everyday life. People with anxiety disorders experience restlessness, nervousness and/or worry on most days over a significant period of time. This worry and anxiousness can cause a person to want to control things, such as diet.
An eating disorder is present when a person experiences ongoing disturbances in eating behavior, such as intentional and extreme restriction of food intake or binge eating. There will also be a persistent feeling of distress and concern about body weight or shape. A person with an ED may diet, exercise, or eat excessively and purge, all of which can have life-threatening consequences.
Even in individuals who hadn’t before displayed overt anxiety, disordered eating and distorted body image can cause an unhealthy level of anxious distress. Much time and energy will be devoted to checking and measuring food intake, weight and body size. Whatever the cause of the eating disorder, once a person is active in restricting or binge-and-purge cycles, they will typically feel anxiety around these behaviors as well.
Since eating disorders and anxiety are so closely related, it’s best when both are treated together. Getting to the source of what is an eating disorder will help individuals who deal with co-occurring issues to better understand their need to control, and the distortions in thinking which contribute to both conditions.
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