While sad, eating disorders are easily diagnosed and fixed. People just need to eat more, right?

Sadly, those statements are wrong. Very wrong. A complex combination of factors contribute to eating disorders. Treating such conditions is more than just putting more food on people’s plates and ensuring that they eat it.

Eating disorders are complicated because they’re physical and mental. They’re complicated because they’re often closely related to other mental health conditions. People with eating disorders may have

  • Tendencies to be perfectionists
  • Anxiety, depression, or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Problems with alcohol or drugs

Such factors may make it difficult to spot and treat their disorders. For example, perfectionists strive to control everything in their lives, including what they do and how they appear. They may deny themselves food because think it’s the best route to looking a certain way and living a certain way.

People with eating disorders may be so miserable that they use alcohol or drugs to escape their mental anguish. People with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and eating disorders might begin exercising compulsively to control their weight and to control the psychological disorder in their lives.

But, again, such behaviors aren’t solutions to their problems. They only make things worse as they imperil people’s physical and psychological health.

Their situations aren’t hopeless, though. There is hope for people who struggle with eating disorders and other psychological conditions. Therapy and mental health programs can provide such hope.

Programs and therapy can be very helpful for a person with a dual diagnosis, a condition where a person has an eating disorder or other mental illness in addition to a substance abuse problem. It’s important to treat both conditions in a dual diagnosis, since the parts contribute to each other.

Why? People with eating disorders and problems with alcohol might stop drinking. But, if their eating disorders remain, they’re still struggling with physical and psychological problems. The problems might prompt them to start drinking and relapse from their sobriety.

Conversely, if people with dual diagnoses only treat their eating problems, they’re not doing anything about their drinking. Drinking can create or intensify physical and psychological problems, so people may also develop eating disorders once again.

Therapy and programs explore WHY people drink or develop eating disorders. They help people identify the factors that contribute to these conditions, help them deal with these factors, and even help them eliminate such factors entirely.

Mental health services and therapy often introduce people to others with the same conditions. These people may provide additional tips for addressing disordered eating or substance abuse. They may provide emotional support since they’ve experienced many of the same things themselves.

Health professionals and peers in recovery help people with their recovery journeys. They know that recovery is more than stopping drinking, more than putting more food on people’s plates. It’s providing experienced knowledge and support to explore all facets of a person’s condition.

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