Is it what you’re eating… or what’s eating you?
Recent research shows that lack of family support following psychological trauma in childhood can contribute to life-long eating disorders.
It’s fascinating to think that physical malnourishment may reflect a lack of emotional nourishment in a traumatic childhood.
Jerica Berge, PhD and colleagues from the University of Minnesota just published a paper this month in Journal of Clinical Nursing demonstrating that too little support during times of abuse, death of a family member and hospitalization can all prove to be powerful triggers for eating disorders.
But it’s not always the most obvious trauma that leads to serious eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia nervosa. Even school, home and job transitions can prove to be devastating to a person’s self worth, resulting in a mistreatment of their own body.
Dr. Berge spoke to 26 women and one man receiving treatment at an outpatient clinic specializing in eating disorders in order to find if there was a link between family life and the development of eating disorders.
These patients suffered from anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and other eating disorders and they all shared one common theme: traumatic childhood events.
Please keep in mind that study is not randomized, so we have to be careful about the conclusions that we draw from it.
You can read the entire story in the May 2012 Issue of the Journal of Clinical Nursing.
Identifying the early warning signs and providing proper support for emotional trauma may be crucial to preventing some of these deadly and debilitating disorders.
The challenges of detecting and treating trauma are numerous – that’s why we created our newest comprehensive training series on Treating Trauma.
Have you treated a patient with an eating disorder that you believe may be related to early life trauma? Please leave a comment below.