National Eating Disorders Awareness Week: “Let’s Talk About It”

February 26, 2024 | Mental Health Awareness

This year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced the theme for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week: “Let’s Talk About It: Eating Disorders, Stigma, and Empowered Recovery.”

How Our Clinicians Help Patients Heal Despite Modern Day Pressures

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is observed this week, February 26 through March 1. At innovaTel Telepsychiatry, our behavioral health clinicians specialize in a variety of subjects, including eating disorders, and understand just how difficult and nuanced treatment can be. This week, we reflect on what contributes to eating disorders in 2024 beyond biological factors and social dynamics.

What are Eating Disorders?

Eating disorders are psychological conditions with both emotional and physical symptoms. The disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, and unspecified eating disorders or disordered eating that does not fit into a specific category. Eating disorders most commonly affect young women in their teens and 20’s but can affect anyone at any point in their lives. Eating disorders have the ability to consume one’s day with a constant or obsessive focus on eating or not eating.

Causes of Eating Disorders & A New Contributing Factor

According to Psychology Today, biology, social pressure, and family history and dynamics are some of the factors associated with eating disorders. Culturally constructed body standards and personality traits like perfectionism and obsessiveness also have a substantial role in the creation of eating disorders, which are then often accompanied by depression and/or anxiety. This combination of factors only makes eating disorders more complex and layered when seeking treatment.

However, in the last decade and a half, body image has become an even more difficult issue to face with the presence of social media. This leaves us with the question, “How do we treat those with eating disorders when social media bombards us with unrealistic ideals?”

Perfectionism Fueled by Modern Day Pressures

According to a study called “Perfectionism Is Increasing Over Time”, young people are more burdened than ever; citing differences in societal pressure between the years 1989 and 2016. This focus of perfectionism has increased dramatically among young people, leading to negative side effects such as eating disorders, depression, high blood pressure and in some cases, thoughts of suicide.

This is caused by a mix of excessively high personal standards and intense self-criticism. Social media can be a contributing factor in all of this by becoming a space where unrealistic “perfection” is often displayed with misleading representations of beauty and success.

Read more about the challenges faced by today’s youth, and how telepsychiatry and teletherapy can help.

First Step in Healing

So how do we treat eating disorders? There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. However, we do believe that therapy is an essential part of any treatment plan for eating disorders. The journey to reduced stigma and empowered recovery is not the same for everyone, and some may take longer than others; but it’s important to know there is help out there. As with all behavioral health concerns, timely access to quality care is the critical first step.

If you would like to learn more about specialized psychiatric and therapeutic care for your patients made available through an innovaTel partnership, contact one of our telepsychiatry experts today.

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