Borderline personality disorder is a mental illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior. These symptoms often result in impulsive actions and problems in relationships. People with borderline personality disorder may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that can last from a few hours to days. Signs and Symptoms […]
Emotional overeating disorders can be difficult and devastating for those who suffer from them. What makes this happen? Why is it that some people, knowingly or unknowingly, turn to food for comfort? Here are some thoughts and ideas on those questions.
Emotional overeating disorder is a general term that refers to any of various eating habits where genuine hunger is not the motivational factor. It is more common among women than men, but men are not immune – especially young men in their teens and twenties. Those who suffer from this disorder associate food with emotional comfort, and will turn to eating to escape negative feelings.
For some with emotional overeating disorder, the problem stems from past traumatic events. Someone who suffered sexual abuse, for example, or some other kind of sexual trauma may overeat in response to feelings of anxiety and confusion. The result is a fatter body, which some sources suggest may cause the sufferer to feel “protected” from being attractive to the opposite sex. Subconsciously or consciously, the sufferer wants to be unattractive. Other examples of past trauma or unmet needs may cause a person to turn to emotional overeating.
People who suffer from low self-esteem and a negative self-image may seek escape by overeating. In a way, emotional overeating is a physical expression of what the sufferer feels inside, and the resulting weight projects the same image of self-disrespect.
Like alcoholics, those who struggle with emotional overeating may be unconsciously using food as a drug. Eating numbs or dulls the emotions that might be too hard to deal with otherwise.
Studies indicate a strong correlation between depression and emotional overeating. Ironically, sometimes as depression grows worse a sufferer loses weight; weight loss means the sufferer is not eating as much, and therefore not engaging in his or her coping mechanism.
Prolonged, unrelieved stress can have a profound effect on the body. Stress stimulates the body to produce, among other chemicals, the hormone cortisol. Cortisol apparently has a hunger-stimulating effect, and as the stressful emotions increase along with the cortisol, a cycle of emotional eating can play out.
There are triggers or causes of emotional overeating that are not necessarily in the categories above. Some examples might be:
* Oral need or a need to satisfy your mouth’s need to do something
* Social pressure or embarrassment at eating in public, resulting in overeating in private
* Financial stress
* Relationship difficulties
Do you find yourself gaining weight during times of stress? Do you fear boredom because you know you’ll simply eat to fill the time? These are just some of the symptoms of emotional overeating. If you think you may suffer from this relatively common eating disorder, here are some signs and symptoms that may help you identify whether or not this is what you’re struggling with.
If you have a binge eating disorder or emotional overeating problem, you may stuff food in and not even really taste it or realize what you’re doing. It’s as though you are “out of it” and just mindlessly stuffing food into your mouth.
Feelings of Guilt and Shame
Many people with emotional overeating disorders feel really embarrassed and hateful of themselves after they’ve got through with an eating binge. The problem, of course, is that these negative feelings may make you reach for more food for comfort.
Eating in Secret
Because of being embarrassed, may emotional overeaters will eat in private, reserving their “naughty” foods for when no one is looking.
Always on My Mind…
Do you think about food all the time? Do you feel anxious about the prospect of leaving the house without snacks or money to buy food? Constantly thinking about food (food obsession) may be a sign that you have an emotional overeating disorder.
Sometimes, emotional overeaters will eat and eat to comfort themselves, and then feel sick afterward. Obviously, this is your body’s way of telling you you’ve eaten far too much more than is good for you; but for emotional overeaters, this sickness does not necessarily deter the next binge.
Identify Your Triggers
Emotional overeating is usually triggered by something – emotions, yes, but sometimes we need to be more specific than that. Identifying your personal triggers can go a long way toward helping you overcome the disorder. Basic trigger categories include:
* Emotional – Eating to relieve boredom, stress, or anxiety
* Psychological – You may eat in response to negative, self-destructive thoughts
* Environmental/Situational – You may eat simply because the opportunity is there. Also in this category is the habit of eating while doing another activity, such as reading or watching TV.
Do any of these signs and symptoms describe you? If so, don’t despair – there are treatment options available for emotional overeaters. Check with your healthcare provider for advice on therapists or specialists in your area.
Are any of your children difficult to handle? Maybe they are defiant, foul-tempered, or hard to get along with for more than five minutes. It might not be about your parenting but about their condition. Your children could be suffering from Oppositional Defiant Disorder or ODD.
Kids will be Kids
That’s what old folks used to say about children when they were mischievous. All kids test their parents by pushing their boundaries with words and actions. It takes some time but most kids grow out of their questionable behavior as they approach adulthood.
Sometimes, the defiant behavior is more serious than just a “phase” they are going through. Instead of blaming yourself, your child, or trying to sweep the issue under the rug, it may be time to get help. Learn what you are dealing with in order to bring peace back into your home.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Children could be suffering from a condition called ODD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder. It involves chronic negative and defiant behavior on the part of your child. They exhibit a pattern of behavior that goes on for at least six months, with almost daily events of:
*Arguing with parents, teachers, and other adults
*Disobeying rules given by parents
*Losing their tempers
*Annoying people on purpose
*Being spiteful or vengeful towards others
*Showing anger and/or resentment towards others
*Irritability or annoyance at the behavior of others
*Placing blame on others instead of accepting it themselves
Children with ODD are highly disruptive. Just going out with your children can lead to problems within the family unit. Normal outings are no longer enjoyable when children exhibit this type of behavior regularly.
Children diagnosed with this condition are likely to suffer from additional issues. These can include ADD (attention-deficit disorder, ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), anxiety, depression, dyslexia, and other learning disabilities. To help resolve the behavior issues, all of the symptoms and conditions must be addressed.
The Cause of Oppositional Defiant Disorder
As with many other conditions, the cause of ODD is not definitive. It could be biological. Chemical imbalances in the brain can lead to a number of conditions that manifest themselves in the body. Genetics can play a part, if other family members have been diagnosed with ODD or other forms of mental illness. Environmental factors can also play a role, whether through food, air, or issues within the home.
Labeling defiant children as “bad” could be detrimental to them. Something else could be at work in their bodies that might be going unnoticed. The key is to have children diagnosed by qualified professionals and address the ODD symptoms as well as any others that may present.