It is perhaps not too surprising that in the midst of America’s growing obesity concerns, many people are faced with a devastating and related mental health issue. Millions across the country, especially those in the volatile years of adolescence, struggle with some sort of eating disorder, most commonly manifested in the forms of anorexia or bulimia. Far more destructive and potentially fatal than fad diets or other seemingly harmless ventures into modifying the physical self, these eating disorders often last for years, depleting the body of vital nutrients and resulting in unfortunate complications. But above and beyond the basic physical concerns connected with eating disorders, a strong psychological component exists—one that is often overlooked, oversimplified, or simply ignored altogether.
National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, which came to a close February 7, made bold strides toward encouraging understanding among the public as well as medical care providers about the impacts of these ailments on a psychological level. While many sufferers are given the advice—or the dictate—to simply “stop worrying” while battling anorexia and its brethren, survivors, professionals, and volunteers have spent the week getting the word out about the need for psychotherapy as a part of the healing process. As one of the leading concerns of young people in America, body image is a greatly important topic to understand, and one which should be breached when attempting to come to the aid of someone who has an eating disorder. Whether rooted in one’s family, resulting from a lack of unconditional love or low self-esteem, stemming from traumatic events, or formed as a kind of social pressure, negative body image is a significant threat to both young and aging. From facilitating educational seminars and films to simply being present to share information and knowledge, NEDAW participants helped make the connection between psychological difficulties and eating disorders more firmly grasped.
© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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