Quote of the day

It took a while for me to unlearn and accept that I must first look after myself before I can look after others.

DMK

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Am I growing cold?

For a long time, I could empathize with others to the point of stopping my daily routine or activities until they are okay. When someone was in such agony, I felt it in my heart as well. I would absorb people’s emotions to an alarming degree—whatever they felt, I felt as well, regardless of whether it was a crowd of strangers. Occasionally, I’d break down and sob over the well-being of someone else. And what’s even more interesting is that the person wasn’t shedding a tear. I was unable to discern my emotions from those of others.

I had the sensations of their pain and emotions as my own. I’d question myself, “Why am I like that?” especially that the emotions/feelings don’t belong to me. It was so awful that I was constantly exhausted and drained myself to the point of self-abnegation. But why did I feel responsible for their issues or distress if there was nothing I could do? Although I am an empath, I had to learn to discern my own sensations from those of others. Why was my empathic capacity unhealthy to a certain degree? – It had reached the point of continual burnout and I simply couldn’t handle it any longer. I was constantly emotionally depleted. I needed to find a way to balance the external influences, or else I risked dealing with my own mental health.

What is Empathy?

According to Merriam Webster, Empathy is “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.”

Affective empathy and cognitive empathy are two distinct types of empathy that are studied by researchers. Affective empathy refers to the feelings we experience when we are able to relate to the emotions of others. There is a possibility that other people’s emotions could be transmitted: If they appear to be happy, you are happy; if they appear to be unhappy, you are unhappy; if they appear to be in pain, you are in pain. You may also become more sensitive about the welfare of others because of your ability to detect their emotional states. Affective empathy, on the other hand, can sometimes heighten your own distress when you face suffering, preventing you from effectively providing support.

Cognitive empathy is the ability to comprehend the thoughts and feelings of another on a mental level. For those who don’t like the idea of constantly absorbing other people’s negative feelings, some argue that cognitive empathy may be more advantageous. Somatic empathy, according to some, is the third type of empathy. In this case, a person can feel the bodily sensations that another person is feeling.

Who is an Empathy?

An empath is someone who is extremely sensitive to the feelings as well as emotions of others. Their capacity to discern what someone else is feeling extends beyond empathy, which is defined simply as the capacity to understand another’s feelings, to actually taking on those feelings; experiencing what the other person is experiencing on a deep emotional level.

As described by Dr. Judith Orloff, an empath is someone who soaks up the joys and stresses of the world around them like “emotional sponges.”  Emotional and energetic stimuli, good or bad, can’t escape from empaths, according to her book “The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People,” which she published in 2012. This is explained further by Kim Egel, a San Diego-based therapist—Empaths are more sensitive to external stimuli such as sounds, large personalities, and hectic environments.  They bring a great deal of heart and concern to the world, and they are extremely sensitive to what is going on around them.

Empaths who neglect their own well-being can have a negative impact on themselves and those around them. I had to learn how to regulate my emotions and, more importantly, how to take care of myself as a result of the constant emotional drain and distress. Accepting that there is nothing I can do and learning how to let go without feeling guilty or distressed was a major part of my process of self-awareness and self-acceptance. I needed to establish boundaries to protect myself– Establishing boundaries around emotionally taxing situations helped me reduce the risk of reaching my breaking point.

Empaths have a hard time turning off their high level of emotional sensitivity. People’s emotional energy around you can cause stress or depression in some people. You can’t help but feel this way about your loved ones. However, recognizing and letting go of them can have a significant impact. You do not have to “lessen” your capacity for caring — you can increase your resilience while also cultivating concern for others.

Now that I’ve mastered the art of distancing and regulating my emotions from those of another– I’m able to experience what they feel while still shielding myself. It feels incredibly good–I have practiced and mastered emotional regulation, and I will never stop practicing because there is always something new to learn and improve upon. However, there are instances when I feel as though I’m growing cold, particularly in situations where I can’t do anything other than feel what is but also avoid dwelling too much on the situation. At moments like this, I have to keep reminding myself to practice mindful acceptance. It’s okay to be incapable of assisting– it’s okay to preserve oneself.

References

Creative Consultant | Licensed Therapist | North County San Diego, CA. (2022, January 5). Kim Egel. https://www.kimegel.com/.

The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People. (2021, August 9). Judith Orloff MD. https://drjudithorloff.com/empath-survival-guide-description/.

Are You Highly Attuned To Other People’s Emotions? You Might Be an Empath. (2021, June 17). Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-an-empath-and-how-do-you-know-if-you-are-one-5119883.

Fisher, R. (n.d.). The Surprising Downsides Of Empathy. The surprising downsides of empathy – BBC Future. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200930-can-empathy-be-bad-for-you#:~:text=Yet%20in%20recent%20years%2C%20researchers,them%20into%20aggression%20and%20cruelty..

Empathy. (n.d.). Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/empathy.

What Is An Empath? 15 Signs And Traits. (n.d.). What Is An Empath? 15 Signs and Traits. https://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-an-empath#major-empathy.

Fisher, R. (n.d.). The Surprising Downsides Of Empathy. The surprising downsides of empathy – BBC Future. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200930-can-empathy-be-bad-for-you#:~:text=Yet%20in%20recent%20years%2C%20researchers,them%20into%20aggression%20and%20cruelty..

Even the strongest struggle to catch a breath– sometimes

When I had a mental breakdown, I can remember exactly what happened to me at the time. It was so awful that I was afraid I would pass out. In the kitchen, I was preparing my usual breakfast of oats and two sun-cooked eggs. A sudden burst of tears rolled down my cheeks as I struggled to finish preparing my morning meal— I attempted to push through, but it felt so out of control that my chest began to ache, making it difficult to catch my breath. This time around, though, my resolute declarations to myself, “You’ll be OK, just take a deep breath” were so insignificant compared to what was going on. The other issue was, I had no idea what was truly happening, which terrified me. “What is going on?” I asked myself. Why is this happening? As my cries grew more ferocious, my inquiries grew more complex, and there were no answers to the simplest of them all, I felt increasingly out of control.

On that particular morning, it was my father’s birthday, and I remember waking up really eager to facetime him. In fact, I had awoken–I had texted him and planned to call him later, given how early it was. That did not happen– he ended up contacting me since he perceived it as out of character for me to not call him on his birthday.  I didn’t pick up the phone, not because I didn’t want to, but because I didn’t want to spoil his day or even talk about what was going on– especially given, as I previously stated, I had no idea what was going on. In retrospect, even though I couldn’t place the source of my furor, I could see how repression, coupled with anything contemporary, must have been a trigger. It was more like something that’s on the verge of detonating.

Typically, I’m able to deal with things quite well, but this time it hit different. I was so terrified by this incident that I immediately dialed the mental health hotline and also contacted one of my trusted confidants. A lack of words and a dwindling supply of breath left me unable to speak at the time; as a result, I requested them to be on the phone with me as I lay down to try to fall asleep. I recall my confidant terrified saying– “Omg, I’ve never heard or seen you behave this way; what the fuck is going on with you?” I couldn’t possibly answer that question.

With my breath back under control, I took a moment to try and not think about anything– but you know how that goes, the exact opposite happened instead. But this time, I was in charge of my thoughts, or at the very least, I was able to organize them. I decided to take a break from everything in order to regain my composure and address the situation head-on. After a few days, I decided to talk to someone, and in the process, I broke uncontrollably–I understood that my suppression was much deeper than I had previously assumed. I had no idea how much had been suppressed until that moment. “I have so much rage and I’m not sure where it’s coming from,” I recall telling the assistant. In general, I’m a patient person who doesn’t become easily irritated. So where was this furiousness coming from?

Why did it choose that particular moment to occur? The body could no longer take it– It’s strange how the body works, but it does communicate when enough is enough. It does signal when we should rest and regain our composure. It does alert us when there is a problem. And occasionally, in fact, most of the time, triggers can serve as a stimulus. Despite our attempts to remain in denial and push it to the back of our minds – more along the lines of will process that later and get on with what is – the mind and body fight to give you what you ask. That does not imply that it has been forgotten.

What is a nervous breakdown?

A nervous breakdown (alternatively referred to as a mental-breakdown) is a term referring to an extended period of mental or emotional stress. The person’s stress level is so high that he or she is unable to carry out everyday tasks. A nervous breakdown is not caused by a single factor. It can be triggered by anything that causes an excessive amount of stress. Feeling stressed and unable to deal with it can make it difficult, if not impossible, to go about your typical daily activities.

Stress is a natural aspect of life. However, when feelings become very overwhelming, they can precipitate a mental breakdown. Being overwhelmed by the responsibilities of life is not an unusual experience for humanity. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by stress, speak with someone — this might be a family member or a friend, your therapist, or even your doctor. Allow yourself to explore any and all emotions that may be running through your mind. Mental breakdowns are not time-bound; they can occur at any time and to anyone. Communicating with another person can empower you in processing your thoughts and developing solutions to reduce your tension and anxiety. Always remember that it’s okay to feel it all– take care of yourself.

How do you deal with stressful situations/events?

Post-holiday syndrome

“Urgh, I wish holidays could go all year long,” my family and I often remark as we give our goodbye hugs and kisses as I return to my own place. Regardless of any squabbles that may emerge, the feeling of family togetherness is indescribable. For many of us, these are the people we see only once or twice a year — catching up for an entire year is always pleasant. Taking a break from your everyday routine is relaxing, and the fact that you don’t have to go to work is a pleasant change. After the holidays, do you often wonder why it’s so difficult to get back into the groove? Post-holiday blues are a real thing.

After the festivities of the holiday, it’s back to work and daily routine. The news may come as a welcome relief to some. Even with all the goodwill and joy, the holiday season may be a drain on your finances, physical health, and mental well-being. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 64 percent of adults report being affected by Christmas depression, and the stress of the season is the most common reason. Even if you’ve been on a high during the ‘happiest time of the year,’ it might be hard to come down from that euphoria and get back to work.

It’s impossible to generalize about sadness; it’s deeply personal. The things that make one person sad may not have the same effect on another. Stress, exhaustion, unrealistic expectations, and over-commercialization are common causes of Holiday melancholy. The inability to spend time with loved ones due to financial hardship. Shopping, parties, family duties, and house guests can put a strain on the body’s ability to handle them all. Individuals who may not perceive themselves to be depressed may experience stress-related symptoms such as headaches, excessive drinking, overeating, and insomnia. Post-holiday blues may strike others following New Year’s Day. This might occur as a result of the preceding year’s built-up expectations and disappointments, as well as stress and weariness.

Oftentimes, the holiday season is an emotional rollercoaster. After the excitement of the holidays has died down, many people fall into a funk or depressed mood and struggle to carry on with their daily routines. Mood swings that occur after the winter festive season are commonly referred to as “holiday blues,” “holiday depression,” or “post-Christmas blues.” There are numerous reasons why people experience post-holiday depression. It’s possible that the holidays didn’t live up to your expectations, that your plans fell through, or that your expectations were simply not met. Some people experience feelings of shame after overindulging on substances such as alcohol or food. You might also feel bad about yourself if you missed an event that you were supposed to go to. It’s comforting to know that we’re not the only ones experiencing these emotions.

Holiday blues may be the brain’s way of reorganizing itself in the midst of a jarring transition from one experience to another. Furthermore, the second half of December is essentially one long break from your usual routine. Another possible cause of post-holiday depression is the stress of coping with difficult situations and maintaining your composure in the midst of the holiday festivities.. Dr. Judith Orloff, a psychiatrist and author of “Thriving as an Empath,” says that pretending to be happy can be exhausting. Dr. Richard O’Connor, a psychotherapist, believes that we “arm” ourselves with coping mechanisms to handle stress as well as difficult emotions during the holiday season.

During the holidays, we’re more likely to spend time with our loved ones. Spending time with our loved ones can also leave us feeling conflicted. We’ve all experienced times when we’ve felt let down or treated unfairly by members of our family. This can cause sadness and even a sense of mourning in its own right. On the other hand, being with family can bring us great joy, and we may then miss them greatly when they return home. Holidays frequently rekindle memories of those who are no longer with us or with whom we have lost contact. It could be the result of a death, a divorce, or simply time passing. It’s not uncommon to experience a relapse of the mourning process around the time of the holidays.

Many of us return home after being away for a year, and it’s understandable if you’re worn out. While you’re away from home, you’re able to process and slowly regain the energy you expended keeping everything together. Feeling tired and depressed can be a side effect of exhaustion. Assuming you had a few days off from work, you’re now back at it every day. In order to take time off, it is possible to leave behind a mountain of work that can be overwhelming.

It is okay to allow oneself to experience any feeling. The post-holiday blues will not last indefinitely. And meanwhile, be kind to yourself. Compassionate toward yourself—Do not condemn yourself for feeling the way you do; allow yourself the time necessary to regain your equilibrium.

References

Holiday Depression And Stress. (2020, September 27). WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/depression/holiday-depression-stress.

Angle, C. (n.d.). Post Holiday Syndrome. Post Holiday Syndrome. https://greatlakespsychiatric.com/resources/monthly-hot-topic/32-post-holiday-syndrome.

Post-Holiday Blues: What It Is And How To Cope. (n.d.). Psych Central. https://psychcentral.com/lib/how-to-manage-post-holiday-depression#what-is-it.

Understanding Post-Holiday Depression And Blues Post-Holiday Depression: Causes And How To Snap Out Of It. (2021, November 8). Psycom.net – Mental Health Treatment Resource Since 1996. https://www.psycom.net/depression/post-holiday-depression.

Handling Eating Disorders During the Holiday Season

“Eating disorders over the holidays are a living hell for me because I am constantly hiding and afraid, confused about life and hate every time that I am around food. So many people were staring and glancing at me, and I was bombarded with comments for days. My entire existence was in shambles. I was in so much anguish and guilt that I had no choice but to turn to my eating habit for comfort. The stress of having to eat and the fear of offending others were the worst parts of the experience”

The holiday season is a lovely time of year—  Festivities and socializing are typical at this time of year – as families and friends gather for food and fun. The season is meant to be a time of joy, happiness, and love. Nonetheless, the holidays may be a stressful time for many people with eating disorders. People who suffer from anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder may find that the Holidays exacerbate their symptoms, which can lead to even greater psychological anguish and suffering. Possibly owing to the stress of the upcoming festivities and/or the prospect of the availability of tough (typically high calorie) foods in the weeks ahead.

Why are holidays such triggers?

Anxiety-inducing events such as holiday feasts have been found to be powerful triggers for people with eating problems. There’s evidence to support this theory, as research reveals that women with bulimia’s brains respond differently to eating when they’re under pressure than those who don’t suffer from the disorder. As a matter of fact, the design of holiday gatherings tends to raise the risk of holiday binging. People spend days running up to Thanksgiving either excited or worried about overeating at the Thanksgiving Day dinner. People with eating disorders are more likely to overindulge on Thanksgiving because the stress of either refraining or giving in to this delightfully gluttonous celebration may trigger more disordered eating for them. Anxiety surrounds holidays, especially since people suffering from eating disorders find it hard to conceal their challenging behaviors.   

“With my bulimia, Christmas is the most difficult time of year. Love and joy were all around, but they weren’t there for me, so I turned to food as a substitute. Before I made my way to the bathroom, I found it difficult to watch everyone in such good spirits. Because I felt unworthy of happiness, I was unable to enjoy it. Love and happiness were not mine to receive…”

You can get through it– When it comes to self-care, the holiday season is a great time to remember that. You need to figure out what is most likely to keep you grounded and unaffected. Taking care of oneself takes on various forms for various people. Allow yourself the freedom to do whatever it is that you need and whenever it is that you need to. Also, self-care is about being kind and forgiving to oneself. Allow yourself grace, avoid negative self-talk, prioritize connection with others or re-explore things you enjoyed prior to developing an eating disorder. What matters most is that you have a trusted friend or family member to turn to when things get tough.

How can loved ones offer support?

Avoid discussing diets, food, or weight in conversation. During Thanksgiving, it’s easy to casually comment on how “full” one is or how one will require a post-dinner workout. For someone who suffers from an eating issue, these kinds of remarks can be quite upsetting. Not only should you refrain from criticizing their appearance (even if it’s complimentary), but you should also refrain from urging them to consume more food. Again, these actions can be detrimental rather than beneficial. Set aside time for non-food-related activities. Going out to see the Christmas lights, playing board games, and watching movies can all be done without regard for food. 

Become familiar with the person’s specific disorder—the causes, the difficulties, and the coping mechanisms. You’ll be able to better understand their actions if you learn more about them.   Remind them of your love and affection. There are many ways you may show your support, from hugs and warm words to more subtle gestures such as making sure they’re part of the conversation and activities they’re a part of. The most important thing to remember is that you can only modify your own behavior, not theirs. You may help someone by supporting them in their journey, even if it means allowing them to make mistakes or face obstacles. By just being as thoughtful, empathetic, and observant as possible, you can assist them at every step.

References

Collins B, Breithaupt L, McDowell JE, Miller LS, Thompson J, Fischer S. The impact of acute stress on the neural processing of food cues in bulimia nervosa: Replication in two samplesJournal of Abnormal Psychology. 2017;126(5):540-551. doi:10.1037/abn0000242

Managing Holiday Meals When You Have an Eating Disorder. (2021, January 5). Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/managing-holiday-meals-without-eating-to-excess-1138294.

Eating Disorders And Holidays – Mirror-Mirror. (2020, June 11). Mirror-Mirror. https://mirror-mirror.org/recovery/eating-disorders-and-holidays.

Christianson, D. (2019, October 18). 5 Tips for Coping With an Eating Disorder During the Holidays. Center For Discovery. https://centerfordiscovery.com/blog/tips-eating-disorder-during-the-holidays/.

How To Support Someone With an Eating Disorder During the Holidays | ResponseCenter. (n.d.). How to Support Someone with an Eating Disorder During the Holidays | ResponseCenter. https://www.jcfs.org/response/blog/how-support-someone-eating-disorder-during-holidays.

Coping With A Loved Ones’ Eating Disorder During the Holidays. (2006, October 18). Center for Change. https://centerforchange.com/coping-loved-ones-eating-disorder-holidays/.

Body Image

Throughout our childhoods, we are exposed to a wide range of absurdities, and these experiences shape our views of what is and isn’t acceptable. We take up on what society has essentially established as right or wrong. We are subconsciously influenced by society’s standards and norms. Body image differs according to society. Many of us internalize messages about body image beginning in childhood, which can result in either a favorable or negative body image.

Concerns over one’s body image frequently begin at an early age and could last a lifetime. By age 6, girls begin to show concerns about their personal weight and shape–expressing anxiety about their weight or risk of becoming obese. Additionally, nearly half of adolescent females and nearly a third of adolescent males engage in hazardous weight-loss habits such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives. It’s crucial to remember that each person’s experience with body image issues is unique, thus the onset age might vary widely.

What does body image mean?

The term “body image” refers to the collection of ideas and emotions about one’s body. Body image experiences can range from favorable to negative, and an individual may feel positive, negative, or a combination of the two at various times. Internal and external elements both influence body image. Your perceptual body image is how you perceive your body. This is not necessarily an accurate depiction of your true appearance. Your affective body image is how you feel about your body. While feelings can range from delight to disgust, they are sometimes summarized as your level of contentment or discontent with your shape, weight, and individual body parts. A person’s mental representation of their body is known as their cognitive body image. This might result in an obsession with one’s body shape and weight. Behavioral body image refers to the actions that you take because of your body image. When a person is unhappy with their looks, they may isolate themselves or engage in unhealthy behaviors in order to alter their appearance.

Positive body image means having a clear, accurate view of your shape; perceiving the various aspects of your body for what they truly are. Accepting one’s natural body shape and size and realizing that appearances have little bearing on one’s character or value as a person are all components of body positivity (or body pleasure). In contrast, having a skewed view of one’s body shape is indicative of having a negative body image. Feelings of shame, anxiety and self-consciousness accompany negative body image (or body dissatisfaction). Negative body image can also arise as a result of weight stigma, muscularity, sexual functionality, scars, noticeable face or physical differences, handicap, or changes in the body as a result of medical treatments or disease.

Individuals who have a high level of dissatisfaction with their bodies believe their bodies are imperfect in contrast to others, and these individuals are more likely to experience depression, isolation, low self-esteem, and eating disorders. Anorexia and bulimia aren’t caused by a single thing, but research has shown that body dissatisfaction is the most common factor in the development of both.

Body dissatisfaction

When a person has chronic negative thoughts and feelings about their body, this is referred to as body dissatisfaction. Although dissatisfaction with one’s looks is an internal emotional and cognitive process, it is influenced by external influences such as pressure to conform to a particular appearance ideal. Dissatisfaction with one’s appearance can motivate individuals to engage in unhealthy weight-control behaviors, most notably disordered eating. As a result, they are at an increased risk of developing an eating disorder. It is worth noting, however, that the majority of people who have body image problems or dissatisfaction do not have eating disorders, and some people who do have eating disorders do not have body image concerns.

In Westernized countries, body image dissatisfaction has become a major concern for adolescent health. More than 60 percent of females and 30 percent of males in the United States suffer from body dissatisfaction, which is a particular focus for adolescent health practitioners. In the 1980s, researchers around the world began studying the impact of a negative body image on eating disorders. Since then, the amount of research on body image has expanded tremendously. Many of these studies reveal that the type and degree of body image problems vary according to characteristics such as gender, age, ethnicity, peers, family, personal experiences, and socio-cultural influences. These studies provide a good starting point for further research. Women in Western cultures appear to be at the greatest danger, while those in non-Western cultures appear to be at the lowest risk, albeit this is more owing to a lack of relevant studies than a scientific conclusion.

A person is said to have a positive body image if they can accept, enjoy, and respect their physical appearance. You can feel unsatisfied with some elements of your body, but still, be able to accept it for what it is. This is not body contentment. In order to maintain a healthy body image, it is important to recognize and avoid the artificial and unattainable ideals of beauty and thinness depicted in the media. A healthy body image does not ensure good mental or physical health, but it can provide a protective barrier against poor self-esteem, disordered eating behaviors or yo-yo dieting, and, perhaps, other mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and body dysmorphic disorder.

It’s becoming more and more common for people of various sexes, ages, genders, ethnicities, abilities, etc., to embrace their bodies as they are. Body variety must be embraced and all bodies recognized as valuable. In order to cultivate a healthy body image, it is important to understand and respect one’s natural shape, and then replace negative thoughts with positive ones that are affirming and accepting.

References
Greene, S. B. (2011). Body Image: Perceptions, Interpretations and Attitudes. Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

“Body Image & Eating Disorders.” National Eating Disorders Association, 22 Feb. 2018, https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/body-image-eating-disorders.

Body Image. (n.d.). Body Image. https://nedc.com.au/eating-disorders/eating-disorders-explained/body-image/.

Eating disorders

“…compulsive eating is basically a refusal to be fully alive. No matter what we weigh, those of us who are compulsive eaters have anorexia of the soul. We refuse to take in what sustains us. We live lives of deprivation. And when we can’t stand it any longer, we binge. The way we are able to accomplish all of this is by the simple act of bolting — of leaving ourselves — hundreds of times a day.”

 — Geneen Roth, Women, Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything

According to the American Psychological Association, eating disorders are behavioral problems marked by severe and persistent disturbances in eating patterns, as well as upsetting thoughts and emotions. 70 million people worldwide are estimated to suffer from an eating disorder, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Women between the ages of 15 and 35 are particularly susceptible to eating disorders.

Typically, eating disorders emerge throughout adolescence or early adulthood. Anorexia and Bulimia are rare disorders that develop before puberty or after the age of 40. 90% of instances are diagnosed before the age of twenty, while less than 10% of all cases occur before the age of ten. Clearly, adolescent stressful events, such as self-consciousness, puberty, and peer pressure, can contribute significantly to the onset of these diseases. An eating disorder frequently begins as a result of a stressful life experience. This could include exposure to violence, family conflict, school-related stress, or loss. It does not appear to be related to someone’s race or socioeconomic background. Rather, these conditions affect people of all ages and socioeconomic statuses.

Preoccupations with food, weight, or shape, as well as worry about eating or the consequences of consuming specific foods, are common symptoms of eating disorders. Restrictive eating or avoiding particular meals, binge eating, purging by vomiting or laxative usage, or compulsive exercise are some of the behaviors associated with eating disorders. Addiction-like behavior can be a result of these habits. They frequently co-occur with other psychiatric disorders, most frequently mood and anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and issues with alcohol and other drugs.

It’s important to know that there are many different types of eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, avoidant restrictive food intake disorder, other specified feeding and eating disorder, pica, and rumination disorder. Anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating are only some of the most common.

When anorexia nervosa–also known as anorexia–is diagnosed, the patient has an unusually low body weight, a strong fear of gaining weight, and an excessively distorted perception of weight. Individuals suffering from anorexia place a great premium on maintaining a healthy weight and shape, often by severe measures that significantly disrupt their lives. People with anorexia often drastically restrict their food intake in order to avoid weight gain or to maintain their weight loss. Vomiting after eating or using laxatives, diet pills, diuretics, or enemas as laxatives are two common methods of restricting caloric intake. Excessive exercise may also be used as a weight-loss strategy. However much weight is dropped, the worry of gaining it all back persists in the person’s subconscious mind. In the end, anorexia isn’t truly a food-related disorder. It’s a dangerous and potentially lethal technique to deal with emotional issues. It’s common for people with anorexia to see thinness as a sign of self-worth.

Bulimia Nervosa; People with bulimia may surreptitiously eat enormous amounts of food and then purge, seeking to get rid of the excess calories in an unhealthy manner. People with bulimia utilize a variety of strategies to burn calories and avoid weight gain. It’s possible that after a binge, you’ll self-induce vomiting or take laxatives or weight-loss pills, or diuretics. Fasting, severe diets, or intense activity can also be used to burn calories and prevent weight gain.

Binge eating disorder– characterized by recurring bouts of overeating. Binge eating is characterized by feelings of inadequacy during the binge, humiliation, sadness, or guilt afterward, and the absence of unhealthy compensatory behaviors (e.g., purging). It’s the most frequent eating disorder in the United States, according to the CDC. It is one of the most recently identified eating disorders in the DSM-5.

Avoidant restricted food intake disorder – is characterized by an abnormal pattern of eating that results in a prolonged inability to achieve nutritional requirements and severe selective eating. ARFID is characterized by food avoidance or a restricted diet. Infancy or early childhood is a common time for food avoidance or restriction to begin, and it may continue until adulthood. However, it can begin at any age. ARFID can have a negative influence on families regardless of the age of the person afflicted, resulting in greater stress during mealtimes and other social eating situations.

Causes of Eating disorders

Eating disorders are extremely complicated illnesses, and scientists are constantly discovering their origins. Although eating disorders are always associated with food and weight difficulties, the majority of specialists now believe that eating disorders are triggered by individuals attempting to cope with overwhelming feelings and painful emotions through food management. Regrettably, this eventually has a detrimental effect on a person’s physical and emotional health, self-esteem, and sense of control. Some people are more likely to develop an eating disorder because they have a genetic predisposition, but these diseases can also affect people who have no family history of the problem.

An idealized body type in the culture places unnecessary pressure on individuals to meet unattainable norms. Thinness (for women) or muscularity (for men) is frequently associated with popularity, success, attractiveness, and happiness in popular culture and media imagery. When it comes to young people, peer pressure may be a tremendous motivator. Pressure can manifest as teasing, bullying, or scorn based on one’s size or weight. A history of physical or sexual abuse may also contribute to the development of an eating disorder in some individuals. Emotional Well-Being—Perfectionism, impulsive conduct, and problematic relationships can all contribute to a person’s low self-esteem and predispose them to develop eating disorders.

Various treatments are used to treat eating disorders. Individualized treatment regimens for eating problems are available. You will almost certainly be assisted by a team of providers, including doctors, dietitians, nurses, and therapists. Psychotherapy, medication, nutritional counseling, and weight loss monitoring may all be used as therapies.

References

WHO- The Gender and Health Reserach Series, pdf

Mayo clinic- Eating disorders

Eating Disorders | NAMI: National Alliance On Mental Illness. (n.d.). Eating Disorders | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Eating-Disorders.

Gulf Bend MHMR Center. (n.d.). Gulf Bend MHMR Center. https://www.gulfbend.org/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=11746&cn=46.

What Are Eating Disorders?. (n.d.). What Are Eating Disorders?. https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/eating-disorders/what-are-eating-disorders.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, is characterized by significant mood fluctuations that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). Bipolar disorder is a type of mental illness that results in drastic changes in a person’s mood, energy level, and ability to think rationally. People suffering from bipolar experience extremes of emotion referred to as mania and depression, which are distinct from the ordinary ups and downs that most people experience. When you are depressed, you may have feelings of sadness or hopelessness and lose interest or pleasure in the majority of activities. When your mood swings into mania or hypomania (a milder form of mania), you may experience feelings of euphoria, increased energy, or extraordinary irritability. These mood swings can have an impact on one’s sleep, energy, activity, judgment, behavior, and capacity to think effectively.

Mood swings might occur infrequently or repeatedly throughout the year. Between bouts, most people will have some emotional symptoms, but some may not. According to the WHO, over 45 million individuals worldwide are affected by this illness. The typical age of occurrence is around 25, however, it can develop in the teens or even in childhood. Males and females are equally affected by the illness. A person with bipolar disorder can also have manic phases without experiencing depressive episodes.

Bipolar disorder and associated disorders come in a variety of forms. They may include manic or hypomanic episodes, as well as depression.

  • Bipolar I Disorder is characterized by manic episodes lasting at least seven days or by manic symptoms severe enough to require immediate hospitalization. 
  • In contrast to Bipolar I Disorder, Bipolar II Disorder is marked by a pattern of depressed and hypomanic episodes, but not full-blown manic episodes.
  • Cyclothymic Disorder (also known as Cyclothymia) – characterized by episodes of hypomania and depression symptoms lasting at least two years (1 year in children and adolescents). 

Occasionally, a person may exhibit bipolar disorder symptoms that may not fall into one of the three categories given below, which is referred to as “other specified and unspecified bipolar and related diseases.” Bipolar II disorder is not a subtype of bipolar I disorder; rather, it is a distinct diagnosis. While manic episodes in bipolar I disease can be intense and frightening, those with bipolar II condition may experience prolonged depression, resulting in major impairment.

Causes and risks

Bipolar disorder has no recognized etiology, however, several factors may play a role. They include environment, biological differences in brain structure, and function, and genetics. Bipolar disorder is more likely in first-degree relatives, such as siblings or parents. Researchers are searching for genes linked to bipolar disease.

Signs and Symptoms

Bipolar symptoms might vary. But they entail mood episodes: Symptoms of mania episode include: elated or ecstatic Feeling jittery or energized, Having a short fuse or appearing impatient, Thoughts rushing and speech frantic, Sleeping less, thinking you’re special, talented, or powerful. Spending a lot of money, drinking excessively, or engaging in dangerous sex, all of which reveal a lack of judgment.

Symptoms of depression episodes include sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness. Loneliness or social isolation Slowly speaking, feeling speechless, or forgetting a lot Lacking energy, Oversleeping, Overeating or undereating. Inability to complete simple tasks and lack of enthusiasm in routine activities; Suicide or death thoughts.

A mixed episode is characterized by the coexistence of manic and depressed symptoms. For instance, you may feel incredibly depressed, empty, or hopeless while also feeling extremely invigorated. Certain individuals with bipolar illness may experience lesser symptoms. For instance, you may suffer from hypomania rather than mania. With hypomania, you may feel quite terrific and find that you are able to accomplish a great deal. You may have the impression that nothing is wrong. It’s possible, however, that you’ll be noticed by those closest to you. They may notice that your action is out of character for you. Following hypomania, you may have extreme depression.

Individuals diagnosed with bipolar illness may also suffer from co-occurring disorders such as anxiety, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance use disorders/dual diagnosis. Bipolar patients with psychotic symptoms may be misdiagnosed with schizophrenia. Bipolar disorder is also frequently mistaken for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

Prevention and treatment

There is no foolproof method of preventing bipolar disorder. It is important to get treatment as soon as a mental health illness is detected. Preventing modest symptoms from becoming major mania or depression: Take note of warning indications. Managing and monitoring symptoms early can help prevent worsening episodes.  Involving family or friends in spotting red flags. Avoid using drugs or alcohol– consumption of alcoholic beverages or recreational substances can exacerbate your symptoms and increase their likelihood of recurrence.

There are numerous strategies to treat and manage bipolar disorder: Psychotherapy–including cognitive behavioral therapy and family-focused therapy–can assist you in identifying and altering troublesome emotions, ideas, and behaviors. It can provide you and your family with assistance, information, skills, and coping mechanisms. Consult your physician about drugs such as mood stabilizers, antipsychotic medications, and, to a lesser extent, antidepressants.

Bear in mind that while bipolar disorder is a chronic illness, long-term, consistent therapy can help reduce symptoms– enabling you to maintain and live a healthy lifestyle.

References

Mental Disorders. (2019, November 28). Mental disorders. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-disorders.

Bipolar Disorder: MedlinePlus. (2021, September 22). Bipolar Disorder: MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/bipolardisorder.html.

NIMH » Bipolar Disorder. (n.d.). National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder.

Bipolar Disorder – Symptoms And Causes. (2021, February 16). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355955.

Bipolar Disorder | NAMI: National Alliance On Mental Illness. (n.d.). Bipolar disorder | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Bipolar-Disorder.