While there is growing recognition that (surprise, surprise!) men are not immune to eating disorders, men are still underrepresented in the literature about eating disorders. We know comparatively little about what it is like to be a man with an eating disorder, and less still about recovery and life after recovery for these individuals. Recently, Björk, Wallin, & Pettersen (2012) conducted a qualitative study that asked men who had been diagnosed with an eating disorder and completed treatment to describe how recovery factors into their present lives. The researchers interviewed 15 men aged 19-52 (mean age 23) in Norway and Sweden, 10 of whom had been diagnosed with AN, 4 with BN, and 1 with EDNOS. The authors did not specify duration of illness.
The authors used a phenomenographical approach to study recovery among men. Though I am familiar with qualitative methods, this approach was new to me. From what I gather, phenomenography is an approach that focuses on a particular phenomenon (in this case, recovery from an eating disorder), and the similarities and differences in how …
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is 3-5 times more prevalent in individuals with bulimia nervosa (BN) than those without (Dansky et al., 1997). However, the relationship between PTSD and BN–in particular, how PTSD might affect or moderate bulimic symptoms–remains largely unexplored. In a recent study, Trisha Karr and colleagues followed 119 women (20 with PTSD and BN, and 99 with BN only) for a 2 week period to investigate whether participants with comorbid PTSD + BN differed from those with BN only on the:
They used the ecological momentary assessment (EMA) tool to track behaviours and emotional states close to when they occur. I’ve blogged about a study using EMA before (‘What’s The Point of Bingeing/Purging? And Why Can’t You Just Stop?’), but briefly,
Participants were prompted to recording their mood and behaviour(s) at 6 semirandom times each day, over a two-week period. The authors then looked at the …
The Tripartite Model of body image dissatisfaction postulates that three factors (peers, parents, and media) affect body image dissatisfaction and disordered eating through thin-ideal internalization and appearance comparison.
Thin-ideal internalization is the extent to which one accepts or “buys into” socioculturally defined beauty standards of thinness. The idea is that the more someone internalizes these standards, the more likely they are to engage in behaviours to achieve their “ideal”, and the more likely they are to develop an eating disorder.
A growing number of of studies have been done evaluating the validity of this model. Although I’m not well-read on the subject, it does seem like there is a growing number of studies showing an association between thin-ideal internalization and disordered eating practices.
But is the picture complete? Are peers, parents, and media the only or even the main factors that influence the extent of thin-ideal internalization?
One factor that’s curiously missing from the research is genetics. Can genetics play a role in explaining why some individuals are more prone to internalizing the thin-ideal than others?
To investigate whether genetic factors …
Navigating health service systems can seem daunting, to say the least. Making phone calls, getting doctor appointments and referrals, attending intake appointments, and preparing oneself for treatment can be both mentally and physically draining. When children and adolescents develop eating disorders, their parents become the main navigators in this scenario, making decisions and arrangements for their under-18-year-olds. But what happens when these adolescents reach the age of 18, and still require and/or desire treatment?
A recent Canadian qualitative study by Gina Dimitropoulos and colleagues (2013) explored the transition between pediatric and adult treatment for eating disorders to identify ways to facilitate smooth and effective transitions. To explore the tensions surrounding transitions, the authors conducted focus groups with service providers from both pediatric and adult treatment programs, as well as interviews with community practitioners.
This study used grounded theory (more in-depth discussion here), a qualitative approach that aims to develop a theory to explain a particular phenomenon based on an analysis of rich descriptions (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). As Strauss & Corbin articulate, this methodology aims to represent participants’ voices as accurately …
I have been fascinated and perplexed by reports of the seemingly invigorating and anxiety reducing effects of bingeing and purging (purging by self-induced vomiting). Personally, I cringe at the idea of self-induced vomiting and have always wanted to avoid vomiting at all costs, including during food poisoning. The insight from recent blog entries and the subsequent comments has made an impact on me. I see that the motivation to engage in bingeing/purging (b/p-ing) behavior can be intense and can provide an effective way increase positive affect and reduce stress. The ameliorating effects of b/p-ing remind me of drug addiction, with b/p-ing behavior as the “drug.” This made me wonder, what happens in the brain to impart such “addiction-like” reinforcement?
I know there are reports of opiate and endorphin release following purging, but to me, this seemed like an effect meant to counter the intense aversion (and discomfort?) of the act of purging itself. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like the feeling of being “empty” should be reinforcing as well. As someone who used to restrict quite a bit, I certainly found that feeling …
The idea of including dance and movement in interventions for eating disorders may seem somewhat controversial; generally, exercise and physical activity are discouraged for individuals recovering from eating disorders. Including dance in therapeutic interventions might raise a few eyebrows given the links between appearance-oriented athletic endeavors such as ballet and gymnastics and the development of eating disorders.
However, some therapists and scholars interested in alternative therapies for eating disorders have suggested that certain forms of movement therapy may help individuals with eating disorders connect to their bodies in a different, more positive way.
In 2011, two such scholars from Portugal, Padrão & Coimbra, published a 6-month pilot intervention for individuals hospitalized for anorexia nervosa (AN) based around body movement.
Data consisted of observations of free movement and conversations that came up during and after the sessions. Their sample size consisted of only 7 young women hospitalized for anorexia.
I’ll admit that despite years of dance training and a keen interest in the potential of dance therapy in mental health treatment, I was skeptical of this study from the start. …
Why do some people recover anorexia nervosa relatively quickly while others seem to struggle for years or decades? Does it depend on the person’s desire to get better? Their willpower? How much they are willing to fight? Is it just that some try harder than others? Some might say yes, but most will correctly realize that the picture is much, much more complex.
We can spend hours talking about barriers to treatment, but in this post I want to talk about something slightly different, something perhaps that is perhaps less “obvious.”
Suppose a group of girls–all roughly the same age, same illness duration, same socioeconomic background and race–enter the same treatment facility. What determines why some will do well in treatment and continue to do well after discharge, whereas others will relapse immediately after discharge, and yet others won’t respond to treatment at all? We know that catching eating disorders early is crucial, but what else is important?
There will never be a treatment that will work for all eating disorder patients. But some types of treatment will work …
Science of Eating Disorders (SEDs) is dedicated to making peer-reviewed eating disorder research more accessible to the public. It is about making sense of academic research in a clear and concise way for those who may lack expertise, access, or time required to read scholarly literature.
SEDs articles cover a broad range of topics relevant to eating disorders – from genetics, psychology, and neuroscience, to treatment, public understanding, medical complications, and much much more. All articles are referenced and based on findings from peer-reviewed literature.
What makes SEDs unique is that all articles are written by individuals with a history of eating disorders and a background in science. As such, articles often include personal thoughts on the reality of living with, managing, and recovering from an eating disorder.
Science of Eating Disorders was created in April 2012 by Tetyana Pekar. Please contact Tetyana if you want to get involved or provide feedback.