Studying, as I do, in a department of family relations, I have become interested in family relationships and parenting. Accordingly, I have begun to take note of interesting studies that link family dynamics and parenting with eating disorders, including studies that look at the sibling relationship (as I wrote about here), family-based treatment, and motherhood/fatherhood in the context of eating disorders.
The literature appears to have shifted, lately, from a focus on “eating-disorder generating” families toward an acknowledgement of the complex family dynamics that can play into the development and treatment of eating disorders. A move away from mother- or family-blaming discourses is essential, I would argue, to gaining a better understanding of the lived experience of eating disorders for individuals and families alike.
Accordingly, I was pleased to stumble across an article by Tuval-Mashiach et al. (2013) that used a qualitative approach to explore the experiences of mothers with eating disorders. The authors suggest that their study helps to fill a gap in the literature surrounding how mothers experience the intersections between their motherhood roles, their …
EDIT: I want to apologize for an oversight in this blog entry. Shelly and I forgot to mention Diabulimia Helpline in our list of organizations that help raise awareness and support sufferers with type 1 diabetes and eating disorders. Diabulimia Helpline is the only non-profit in the US dedicated to “education, support, and advocacy for diabetics with eating disorders, and their families.” I also want to highlight some services that Diabulimia Helpline offers: “a 24 hour helpline available via (425) 985-3635, an insurance specialist to walk clients and/or their parents through the complicated world of getting insurance to cover eating disorders, and a referral service to help people find the treatment centers, doctors, therapists, and counselors that would be a good fit for them on their road to recovery.” – Sincerely, Tetyana
Type 1 diabetes (DMT1, or T1DM) is a lifelong disease often diagnosed in children or adolescents. Though causes of DMT1 are complex and not fully understood, it results from the body’s immune system destroying its own insulin-producing cells. This drastically lowers insulin levels and leads to …
Eating disorders are mental disorders with physical complications. Sometimes lots of them. I’ve blogged before about medical complications that are likely to come up in an emergency room setting, but that was a while ago. So I thought today I’d focus specifically on medical complications that occur in bulimia nervosa (BN) as a result of purging (self-induced vomiting, laxative abuse, and diuretic abuse).
These complications are particularly important because patients with BN often appear healthy and can thus more easily hide their disorder, meaning that treatment is often initiated many years after disorder onset, and the duration of BN is often long, with recovery rates far lower than they should be (in one study, the 5-year recovery rate was a little more than 50%), which means that these complications can persist for many years.
I’ll go through some of the complications of self-induced vomiting, laxative abuse, diuretic abuse, and briefly mention some complications in patients with type 1 diabetes.
I. COMPLICATIONS OF SELF-INDUCED VOMITING
Oral complications of self-induced vomiting:
It is to be expected that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, at least when it comes to anorexia nervosa, relies heavily on measures that are hard to quantify and measure objectively. The big exception is amenorrhea: the absence of menses (commonly known as “periods”) for three consecutive months. As I’ve mentioned before, this criterion will be removed from the next edition of the DSM, thankfully. But for now, it is still there.
Perhaps because it is easy to measure objectively, the resumption of menses is often taken to be a marker of “health” and “recovery.” It is a common goal in treatment for patients to reach a “menstruating weight.”
[Conversely, not losing one's menstrual cycle is often perceived by the patient that they are not "sick enough." Their eating disorder is not legitimate because clearly they are eating enough for their menstrual cycle to continue, and thus they should "snap out of it" or they "don't deserve treatment," which is of course not true.]
I often run into questions online with individuals in recovery who are weight restored and eating well, …
Is getting the flu shot a good idea if you have anorexia nervosa? Is it safe?
To be honest, I’ve never asked myself that question before. Last year, when I was underweight, I got a flu shot mainly because the laboratory where I am doing my graduate degree is in a hospital–the same hospital that was at the centre of the SARS epidemic in Toronto–and I didn’t want to put patients at risk. Sure, I spent most of my time staring at worms through a microscope (true story) but in the rare event I ventured outside for a coffee, I didn’t want to cough on newborn.
So I was kind of excited to find out the answer when someone asked me this question earlier today on tumblr. As expected, I didn’t find much information, but I did find one relevant paper published online in 2011 by Arne Zastrow and colleagues. I thought I’d make a quick post about it to make the information available to others.
As you probably know, getting the flu vaccine is especially important for individuals …
Anonymous asked, “I’ve never lost my period. Weight restored I am naturally thin, but even at a BMI of 15 or so I always got my period (although it wasn’t always regularly). This makes me feel like I’m not actually sick because I hear about everyone losing their period.”
eatruncats replied: “To the anon who asked about losing periods: For all the times she worries about not being sick enough because she never lost her period, there are people who lost their periods at BMIs of 18, 19, and 20 who worry about not being sick enough because they never got to a BMI of 15. If you have an eating disorder, you are “sick enough.” Period.“
As it stands now, amenorrhea–or the loss of three consecutive menstrual cycles–is a diagnostic criterion for anorexia nervosa. Individuals who have not lost their periods are diagnosed with eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). A problematic catch-all diagnosis that makes up the majority of those diagnosed with eating disorders. I’ve discussed some of the problems with the EDNOS diagnosis elsewhere, so today I …
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.