What to Do When an Eating Disorder is Linked to Trauma

Eating disorders develop for a variety of reasons. One is trauma. Though society’s unrealistic expectations for appearance and photoshopped advertising isn’t good for anyone, trauma alone can cause you to spiral into binge eating, anorexia or bulimia. It’s important to treat these disorders in a way that helps address the traumatic catalyst.

When it Happens

Eating disorders can start at almost any age, and our diet-obsessed culture makes it easy to develop a preoccupation with weight and size that goes beyond what is healthy. However, trauma is enough to kick-start an eating disorder. It can even make a previously existing disorder worse. The earlier the trauma occurs in your life, the more intense the disorder may be.

How it Affects Treatment

Eating disorders are not just about food. They often occur because of a desire for control over any aspect of your life. When trauma is involved, you are likely trying to avoid memories of the former tragedy. In order to grasp any semblance of control, you fixate on food. An eating disorder due to trauma needs to be treated in a specific way to be successful. Your triggers may be different since the cause of your disorder happened because of a certain event. It’s important to seek treatment for the trauma; the eating disorder; and possibly, post-traumatic stress disorder.

Learning to Ground Yourself

Grounding techniques can help calm your thoughts and soothe your anxieties, letting you focus on the moment. This is essential because grounding anxiety helps you practice mindful behavior, and this is a major step when recovering from trauma or an eating disorder. Taking deep breaths is a wonderful way to ground yourself and get oxygen to your brain when it needs to focus. You can also use your five senses. Find something you can see or hear, and focus fully on it until you feel your mind stop racing.

Confront the Connection

Denying the connection between the trauma you experienced and your eating disorder doesn’t do you any favors. By identifying what set your eating disorder in motion, you can find the right types of therapy, so you can heal. You are also more likely to find a support group that understands what you are going through in a way other people might not. Confront the connection between what happened to you and what that caused. It is one of the first steps when you’re ready to move forward.

Eating disorders caused by trauma can be overcome, but it’s important that you address the cause of the problem instead of just the symptoms.

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