What Are 3 Ways Secondary Eating Disorders Can Affect Primary Mental Health Issues?

What Are 3 Ways Secondary Eating Disorders Can Affect Primary Mental Health Issues?

Disordered eating can affect a person’s mental and physical health. According to the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, “Though relatively rare in the general population, the individual impact of [eating disorders] can be quite debilitating, and long-term treatments are often expensive.” After receiving treatment for disordered eating, many people with complex co-occurring mental health issues choose to participate in additional programs. Laguna Shores Recovery Center uses high-quality treatments, personalized care, and a trauma-informed approach to recovery to help people with secondary eating disorders establish healthy routines. 

What Are Secondary Eating Disorders?

Secondary eating disorders (EDs) are usually in remission after treatment. Although some symptoms and side effects may still be present, the ED is secondary to whatever disorder remains active. Most people diagnosed with EDs have co-occurring mental health disorders, untreated trauma, or other issues contributing to their disorder. Treatment for all active disorders is essential to manage the eating disorder.

How disordered eating manifests will depend on a wide range of factors. However, most people with secondary eating disorders experience some or all of the following: 

  • Lingering physical side effects of EDs that affect overall health 
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Mood swings 
  • Compulsiveness 
  • Self-harming or risk-taking behaviors 
  • Social isolation 
  • Significant weight fluctuation

Secondary eating disorders can affect how a person thinks about themselves and their circumstances. Many people with EDs struggle with low self-esteem and reduced self-confidence. Treatment can help clients regain control and increase their confidence in managing co-occurring conditions. Programs for complex mental health issues usually involve finding ways to reduce negative self-talk, prevent triggers, and counter intrusive thoughts. Clients can work with their care team to find healthy ways to address any persistent issues related to secondary disorders. 

Commonly Co-Occurring Eating Disorders

Anyone can have an eating disorder. However, some risk factors make it more likely that someone will develop a specific set of co-occurring disorders. People with secondary eating disorders are more likely to experience one or more of the following primary mental health issues: 

  • Anxiety disorders 
  • Panic disorders
  • Mood disorders 
  • Personality disorders 
  • Substance misuse 

These disorders’ symptoms and side effects often make it easier to fall into unhealthy or disordered eating habits. Treating all active or underlying conditions is the best way to reduce the risk of returning to disordered eating after completing treatment. Most people with secondary eating disorders require long-term extended care in the form of therapy, nutritional counseling, or other services. The clinical team at Laguna Shores Recovery Center can help clients find the resources they need to maintain healthy eating habits after transitioning out of treatment. 

3 Ways Secondary Eating Disorders Affect Mental Health

Disordered eating can profoundly affect self-image and how a person responds to people and situations. Below are three ways that disordered eating can affect mental health. 

#1. Low Self-Esteem and Negative Self-Image

Eating disorders can cause extreme feelings of guilt, shame, and regret. Many stigmas surround disordered eating, and individuals struggling with secondary eating disorders might experience low self-worth and self-confidence. Treatment educates the client and allows them to understand better what causes the behaviors and how to avoid disordered eating using coping skills and preventative measures. 

#2. Social Isolation Due to Feeling Self-Conscious

Disordered eating can make people feel self-conscious about their eating habits or appearance. Some people may have difficulty eating meals with others or discussing food. Laguna Shores can help clients change their relationship with food and find positive ways to reduce social isolation. 

Secondary EDs affect mental health by doing the following: 

  • Increasing social discomfort and self-isolating behaviors 
  • Worsening symptoms of mental health disorders like anxiety or depression 
  • Increasing overall stress levels

Clients in treatment learn to re-engage with others in social situations through shared meals, peer activities, and group therapy.

#3. Increased Stress From EDs Can Worsen Symptoms

People who have experienced EDs may have increased levels of stress from lingering side effects, including intrusive thoughts and compulsions. The need to constantly monitor thoughts and behavior can cause additional emotional distress. People diagnosed with certain mood disorders have a higher risk of experiencing more severe symptoms during treatment and continuing care. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “Comorbid anxiety disorder or depression in eating disorders are associated with greater symptom severity, poorer prognosis, and burden of illness.” The clinicians at Laguna Shores can help clients reduce stress through alternative holistic therapies and other treatments. 

Laguna Shores Helps With Secondary Eating Disorders

The effects of disordered eating can impact people for months or years after their eating disorder goes into remission. Early intervention and treatment can provide the best results, especially when followed by comprehensive mental health treatment like the programs offered at Laguna Shores. Our facility provides the best treatment for co-occurring mental health issues.

People who struggle with secondary eating disorders often have co-occurring mental health issues, which can include anxiety, depression, and personality disorders. Active eating disorders are incredibly dangerous and require immediate treatment. However, underlying mental health issues might cause a relapse if they remain untreated. Laguna Shores Recovery Center can help by providing treatment for primary mental health issues after clients have successfully completed treatment for disordered eating. The care team can help support clients and guide them through treatment while providing individualized care for secondary eating disorders. Clients will have a better outcome when they address any active mental health issues. To learn more about our programs and services, call our office today at (866) 774-1532.