Anxiety and Eating Disorders
Do you worry about things that are unlikely to happen or feel tense and anxious all day with no real reason? Sometimes worries and fears are so constant that they interfere with your ability to function and relax.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder frequently is accompanied by other conditions such as an eating disorder, severe depression, or other psychiatric conditions.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder can generate extreme symptoms with full blown panic attacks or it can be extremely subtle. People can have the disorder and walk around feeling on edge and feeling impending doom, but have no idea why. They frequently worry excessively about school, work, their health, or money. The worries are much longer lasting, making normal life difficult and relaxation impossible.
Some of the symptoms are:
- Constant worries running through your head
- Inability to control the worry
- Feeling edgy or restless
- An inability to tolerate total uncertainty
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle tension
- Sleep disturbances
- Being easily startled
- Putting things off because you feel overwhelmed
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty breathing
- Stomach problems, nausea, diarrhea
What Are the Effects of Generalized Anxiety Disorder?
Worry experienced by those with Generalized Anxiety Disorder is persistent and intense. People feel that the threats they perceive are unavoidable. They feel a pervasive sense of dread and fear. Generalized Anxiety Disorder can even interfere with clients' daily functioning and can cause them to feel overwhelmed. Generalized Anxiety Disorders can go hand-in-hand with substance abuse and eating disorders.
What Are the Causes of Generalized Anxiety Disorder?
The exact cause of Generalized Anxiety Disorder is not fully known, but a number of factors — including genetics, brain chemistry, and environmental stresses — appear to contribute to its development.
Factors might be:
- Family history
- Abnormal functioning of nerve cell pathways that connect particular brain regions involved in thinking and emotion.
- Neurotransmitters that transmit information from one nerve cell to the next are not efficient and problems related to mood and anxiety result
- Environmental factors such as trauma and stressful events such as abuse, death of a loved one, divorce, changing jobs of schools may lead to Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
- Withdrawal from addictive substances can also worsen anxiety.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a serious condition that needs treatment by an experienced psychiatrist and staff that are available at the country's top treatment centers such as Mirasol.
Treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder
The first requirement for treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder and/or co-occurring conditions is to have a nurturing and safe environment. Clients need a place where they do not feel alone, where they are not judged, and where they feel that everyone understands the difficulties in her journey.
Many women feel that they have completely lost hope. At Mirasol women experience structure, support, and empathy from a nurturing staff in regards to their feelings and emotions.
Clients will learn to explore their feelings and find ways to become more mindful of them. DBT is an excellent treatment that safely allows residents to explore their feelings.
Why Do We Focus on Co-Occurring Conditions with Anxiety Disorders?
Whenever we're treating women for one condition, we don't stop there. Frequently there are co-occurring disorders. Probably 90% of our clients admit with severe depression and anxiety disorders. Women and girls will use substance abuse or eating disorders as a way of coping with feelings of anxiety or helping them control the intense feelings they are having.
Some health care professionals often ignore Generalized Anxiety Disorders, wrongly assuming that when the eating disorder or other condition is in remission, the feelings of anxiety will disappear. Ignoring the co-occurring condition can negatively impact recovery. When they are able to gain some semblance of recovery, they are at high risk for relapse.
Here is a list of other psychiatric conditions that frequently co-occur with eating disorders and substance abuse:
- chronic anxiety (generalized anxiety disorder)
- bipolar disorder
- panic disorders
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- personality disorders
- various phobias and compulsions