Every human brain follows a reward system- in scientific terms, there is a chemical in the brain that is produced, called dopamine, which is a happiness releasing chemical. Every time you do something exciting or perform a pleasurable activity, dopamine is produced in the brain which acts as a reward system for the human body. Sometimes, you may get this happiness from having your favorite food! You might be suffering from various underlying issues (perhaps a childhood trauma, an anxiety disorder or a bipolar syndrome) which haven’t been resolved yet. It is people like you who want to seek happiness through various unconventional ways - ways which would let you feel good about yourself and allow you to forget issues which you otherwise struggle to forget. In other words, you are self medicating yourself through food. The artificial reward that you are experiencing is through food. But all of us know that anything in excess is bad.
Eating disorders are not considered to be an addiction as such – you won’t even realise it until it's too late. What you do not understand is that such disorders have a tremendous psychological and physical effect on you. Eating disorders are characterized by a persistent disturbance of eating that results in altered consumption or absorption of food which significantly impairs your physical health or psychosocial functioning. Avoidant or restrictive food intake disorders can be categorized as: bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder and anorexia nervosa.
If you are intensely unhappy with your body size and shape - you might be bulimic. You must be committing bulimic behavior done secretly, because this disorder is often accompanied by feelings of disgust or shame. This induces you to binge eat i.e. eat in a discrete period of time – you end up eating an amount of food that is definitely larger than what most individuals would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances.
A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode is also noticed (e.g., a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating).
Recurrent inappropriate compensatory behaviors in order to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting; misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or other medications; fasting; or excessive exercise is carried out by the person.
Have you ever faced times when you have eaten too much, especially during a special occasion or a holiday? Binge eating disorder is different. If you feel like you can't stop eating, even if you are already uncomfortably full, then you might be suffering from binge eating disorder.
Eating your favorite food increases the amount of dopamine that is produced and you tend to feel happy and finally reach a state where you forget all your underlying issues. As seen in Bulimia, if you are suffering from BED, you most likely are feeling ashamed about it. But you do not try to make yourself throw up or exercise a lot after a binge. In other words, you are unfortunately suffering from this if you ever notice yourself commit the following:
● Eating more rapidly than normal (i.e. after every 2 hours)
● Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
● Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
● Eating alone because of being embarrassed by how much one is eating
● Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed or very guilty after overeating
A common physical effect of binge eating is weight gain, which can lead to obesity. You tend to become highly ashamed of how you look and of your eating habits. A number of health problems can crop up for you, some of which can be life-threatening.
● high cholesterol and high blood pressure – which can increase your risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as coronary heart disease and stroke
● diabetes – a long-term condition that causes your blood sugar level to become too high
● osteoarthritis – a condition that causes pain and swelling in the joints
● some types of cancer – such as breast cancer and bowel cancer
Anorexia Nervosa (AN)
If you are trying to cope with certain underlying issues related to low self confidence and self esteem, you are highly susceptible to Anorexia Nervosa (AN). Anorexia is restricting yourself to energy intake leading to significantly low body weight. However, if you are suffering from anorexia nervosa, you also display a fear of gaining weight.
Are you constantly thinking about food – how many calories, how many fat grams, how much exercise is needed if you eat a cookie? You are probably undergoing the following if you are suffering from this:
1) Intensely fearing gaining weight even if you're underweight
2) Sensitivity to cold
3) Having absence or irregular menstruation cycle
4) Having hair loss
Under most of the cases, if you are suffering from any of these eating disorders and you are a victim of depression, then this increases the risk of self-harm and suicidal behaviors. Alcohol and drug abuse are also commonly found in patients suffering from anorexia.
As mentioned earlier, you are turning to these options to self medicate yourself in order to deal with your underlying issues. There are only three options you’re left with while self medicating - death, jail or an institution. When you are traumatized with your unresolved personal issues, you become extremely unstable. This instability makes you do ridiculous things which would result in you landing up in jail. Excessive eating has a fatal effect on your physical and mental health - leading to death earlier than expected. The best option for an addict would be an institution. An institution can either be an hospital or a rehab (us, in this case)
As they say, you cannot heal a lifetime of pain overnight. Be patient with yourself. We, at Solace, teach you to live again by trying to remove the artificial reward system of your brain- we do this by exposing you to many different pleasurable activities so you that you learn to recognize pleasure and happiness in normal fun things in life and not rely on harmful external stimulus to derive pleasure.
To treat your eating disorder, trained staff who specialize in this field are needed which Solace has. You will not find a centre in Malaysia which has consultants who specialize in eating disorder treatment. We have that. We believe in healing you and not just treating you. A complete team is in place for you, waiting to help you begin your journey towards recovery through not just medical solutions, but spiritual, emotional, music, creative art, social therapies and therapies that bring you close to nature. Basically, we teach you to love yourself. We practice fun - we will take you to Disneyland, take you rock climbing, river rafting, sailing and find you a hobby or sport that you enjoy so that you learn to be happy with the simple things in life. This would return your pleasure system to function normally without any external stimulus - what we’re basically trying to do is crush the artificial reward system of your brain. As far as post treatment is concerned, we take precautionary measures to make sure you do not relapse once you leave Solace. We execute a special 18 month aftercare programme to help you maintain the new improved life that you have discovered with us.
For more information on our treatment methods, visit: http://www.solacesabah.com/rehab-addiction-primary-treatment