Experiencing a traumatic event can bring about feelings and emotions not thought possible before. This could include a change in your relationship with friends, family, yourself, and even food.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), “Those who have experienced traumatic events may engage in an eating disorder to self-manage the feelings and experiences related to PTSD.”
Often, people who have experienced trauma may turn to an eating disorder as a means to avoid or cope with painful and uncomfortable feelings. The eating disorder creates a way to relieve and distance oneself from those feelings. For example, in order to numb the feelings associated with a traumatic experience, one might eat large quantities of food, starve oneself, or eat and then purge; symptoms which are associate with disordered eating.
Remembering past events or experiencing a “déjà vu” like moment can be a trigger for those with PTSD and eating disorders. Because body image is so closely intertwined with an eating disorder, the emotions related to PTSD can be compounded by similar feelings associated with the body such as shame, guilt, or even disgust.
When experiencing both symptoms of PTSD and an eating disorder…It is critical to seek treatment for both disorders. It is necessary to get the eating disorder to a place in which the person is not longer at high risk for health complications, and restore weight so they are able to regain the ability to think clearly and problem solve. In addition it is critical to treat the symptoms of PTSD to reduce the risk of relapse, and allow the person to move toward a place of healing, where they can find greater enjoyment in life.
Experiencing a traumatic event can be devastating to your mental health and it’s important to seek professional treatment.
To learn more or to schedule an appointment, please email our office today.