Among the many mental health afflictions that occur alongside addiction at an increased rate, eating disorders are certainly one of the most dire. Similarly involving compulsive behavior, eating disorders put individuals well-being and even their lives in jeopardy, and that’s before you introduce a substance use disorder into the equation. With so many people who suffer from addiction also exhibiting signs of eating disorders, many have begun to wonder whether there’s a relationship. In other words, does having a substance abuse problem make a person more likely to develop an eating disorder?
What is an Eating Disorder?
The brain is a very complex organ, so it makes sense for such a complex organ to be prone to a wide variety of complex mental health disorders. In fact, mental health disorders are so historically enigmatic that we’ve really only just begun to really understand them, including how or why they develop, their symptoms, how they relate to other mental and physiological disorders, how to detect them accurately, and how to treat them. Of course, while some disorders are extremely difficult to detect and treat, there are some that tend to be much more apparent, making them easier to identify and diagnose. Among those easier-to-detect mental health disorders are a group of mental afflictions referred to collectively as eating disorders.
Interestingly, eating disorders represent a class of mental health disorder of which the general public is extremely familiar; however, in spite of this familiarity with numerous specific eating disorders, there’s a decidedly poor understanding of eating disorders overall. In particular, the general public tends to have a very poor understanding of the causes of most eating disorders and how they could nearly be described as diseases.
Like certain other mental health disorders, eating disorders revolve around a very specific type of behavior, which, in the present case, is eating and food-consumption behaviors. When a person suffers from an eating disorder, he or she compulsively controls his or her eating and food-consumption behavior. While most people tend to have regular, healthy eating habits, people with eating disorders tend to be quite limiting in the foods they consume and the frequency they eat meals. More often than not, the ultimate goal in limiting their food consumption is to exercise greater control over their weight and, by extension, their physical appearance; however, it’s important to note that there’s not been one singular cause of eating disorders to be identified. Instead, it seems more likely that a number of social, environmental, and even biological factors are at play when it comes to the development of an eating disorder.
As suggested above, there are a number of different afflictions that fall under the classification of eating disorder; however, the three most common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and bulimia.