Relapse Eating Disorder

The term relapse is one that we often associated with drug or alcohol addiction, but it can be used in terms of something else as well, and that’s an eating disorder.

The following provides an overview of what a relapse with an eating disorder can look like, and how to spot it.

Relapse Eating Disorder
Before looking at a relapse and an eating disorder, what is an eating disorder in clinical terms?

An eating disorder is defined as a serious mental illness, and that’s important for people to understand because all too often it’s seen as a choice that someone makes or some kind of diet they’re on, which it’s not.

Eating disorders are dangerous and can ultimately be deadly if they go untreated, and the death rate for people with eating disorders is higher than all other psychiatric illnesses.

The four primary eating disorders which are defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders are bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, anorexia nervosa and other specified feeding and eating disorders.

Eating disorders involve not only psychological symptoms, but also physical problems and complications, and they often occur along with other mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse problems.

It is possible to recover from an eating disorder, and the sooner someone seeks treatment, the more likely their chances are to recover successfully. It’s similar in many ways to drug or alcohol addiction, however, because while it is possible to treat an eating disorder, it does require follow-up care after initial treatment, and a relapse from eating disorders is possible.

As people are in recovery for an eating disorder, they will naturally have good days and bad days, but it’s important to be aware of the potential for a relapse and to know the warning signs.

As with drug and alcohol addiction, a relapse from an eating disorder is seen as part of the recovery process, and even if you go back to the old habits surrounding your disorder, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still have a successful long-term recovery.

Some of the signs that could mean that you or a loved one is moving toward a relapse with an eating disorder include:

  • Your thoughts are starting to become increasingly focused on food and weight.
  • You’ve lost interest in your treatment for your eating disorder, or you’ve been hiding information from your care providers.
  • You’re starting to feel like you’re losing control.
  • You feel hopeless or overwhelmed.
  • When you think about diet and exercise your primary objective is to look good, rather than to feel good.
  • You begin to look in the mirror a lot or weigh yourself often.
  • You start to isolate yourself or avoid situations that involve eating.

So what should you do if you notice these signs?

The best thing you can do to avoid a full-blown relapse of your eating disorder is to get professional help right away. You’re not a failure, and you shouldn’t see a relapse as a failing or something to be ashamed of.

Along with seeking professional help and being honest with your care providers about what’s happening, you should treat yourself with compassion, and understand that recovery is a process, and this is part of that overall process.

It may also be valuable to make sure you’re getting the proper treatment or that your treatment is still working for any co-occurring mental health disorders you may suffer from, such as anxiety or depression.

You can also work with your treatment providers before a relapse occurs on a way to correct it if it does happen so that you’re proactively prepared.

Relapse Eating Disorder
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