Trauma Resolution and Eating Disorder RecoveryFor eating disorder treatment to be effective, it has to address not only the external signs and symptoms, but also the disorder’s underlying causes. In some cases, that means addressing trauma, or even PTSD. While not all individuals who struggle with eating disorders also struggle with trauma, these conditions are commonly linked. Here at Castlewood at The Highlands, many of our residents receive treatment for both of these conditions in conjunction. Trauma also happens to be the focus of December’s #1LifeAtATime campaign, which is why we are devoting a little bit of space today to explain the intersection between trauma and eating disorders—and how trauma resolution can lead to lifelong hope.
The Basics of TraumaUnderstand that there are any number of events—or series of events—that can contribute to an eating disorder. This includes any experience in which a person is either physically or emotionally threatened. Not every painful or difficult event leads to ongoing trauma, of course, but some traumatic events can produce lingering effects—physical, social, and emotional ones. Some of the specific incidents that might cause ongoing trauma include rape and sexual abuse, bullying and violence, or even experiences with a natural disaster or a bad auto accident. The actual connection between trauma and eating disorders is multi-faceted, and not always clearly understood. The first thing that should be said is that the connection between trauma and eating disorders is common, and in fact about one in three people who suffer from an eating disorder have also experienced something along the lines of trauma or sexual abuse. There are various signs of trauma to look out for—including:
- Flashbacks, nightmares, and memories that are inescapable and irrepressible.
- Withdrawal from relationships/ social isolation.
- Difficulty bonding with family members and friends.
- Avoidance of people, places, or experiences that might be connected to the trauma.
- Co-occurring disorders, such as depression, alcoholism, substance abuse, and eating disorders.