Eating disorders and depression are more common than you might think.  Eating disorders are conditions in which a person is led to eat either more or less than would be appropriate.  Very serious cases include morbid obesity due to over-eating, in which the person gains hundreds of pounds and becomes incapacitated.  On the opposite end of the eating disorder spectrum, gross under-eating, known as anorexia, may result in insufficient caloric and nutritional intake, resulting in medical emergencies. Depression is often associated with eating disorders.  People who have a poor self image, including a poor body image, are susceptible to developing eating disorders, as are people who over eat for emotional comfort. Therefore, eating disorders and depression are frequently found together and may be referred as co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis disorders.

Studies show that around seven percent of Americans are clinically depressed.  A reported ten million females and one million males suffer from eating disorders.  When women are polled about body image, it has been found that 80 percent are unhappy with their bodies.  With so many unhappy people, it is not surprising to find a large percentage of people who have co-occurring eating disorders and depression.

How to know if you are feeling sad or blue, or are depressed?  Everyone gets sad from time to time.  Sometimes, that sadness feels like it lasts longer than usual.  When you can not find your usual enthusiasm for activities that used to bring you pleasure, or when you become easily irritated, when sex has become uninteresting, when you have an unhealthy relationship with food, these are signs that you might be depressed.  Turning to food as a source of comfort is a common symptom of depression and fuels the co-occurrence of eating disorders and depression.

How do you know if you have an eating disorder?  While many people think that anorexia and bulimia are the hallmark traits of girls and women, quite a few men are affected as well.  Eating disorders can happen to anyone, so be sure to know the signs.  Do you lie about how much you have eaten?  Do you keep secrets about your food intake? Reporting having eaten enough when you have not, as well as reporting that you have not eaten when you have been binging, are a couple of warning signs of an eating disorder.  Do you fantasize about being a different weight, obsessively weigh yourself or rid your stomach of food before it is digested?  Over-eating signs are harder to spot, but rapid shifts in weight gain or weight loss, being obsessed with food grazing throughout the day, hiding snacks, can all be be signs of over-eating.

When people are hiding in their homes, ashamed of themselves and unable to eat food in a healthy manner, it is time to take action, to bring a little light into the closet of eating disorders and depression.  Fortunately, there is now an Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, TN that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of these disorders in six peer reviewed treatment outcome studies.   Our programs provide services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting.  If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression or anxiety, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan that can result in recovery.  Treatment for depression and anxiety can be highly successful.  Call us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.