I’m not afraid to admit I get a little bummed out as summer transitions to autumn, and then to winter. The perfectly named Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is an affliction of which I’ve always suffered, but for the longest time I thought I was being an overly sensitive wimp. After a mild and jovial summer, the cool air that gusts melancholy over the Midwest in early September had me wondering if I was about to get SAD again, if it was a legitimate condition, and if so, what I could do fight it.
I shot our resident mental health expert, Brooke Randolph, LMHC an email asking her about SAD, and she revealed that after two decades of speculation, SAD had officially been classified as a common disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). In 2008—before SAD was an official diagnosis—Brooke wrote, “Our natural response to the seasonal changes only becomes a disorder when the distress is in excess of what would be expected from the stressor (seasonal change) and/or when it interferes with functioning in more than one key life area.” For example, if seasonal change begins to negatively impact your responsibilities as an employee, student, or partner, you probably have SAD. (more…)
Remember the last time you ate so much that you felt sick, and with dried marinara on your chin you decried, “I’m in a food coma!”? You had been binge eating, and you could be mentally ill.
On May 18, the American Psychiatric Association released the DSM-5, the most recent update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. For the first time in the manual’s 60-year history, binge eating was included. For mental health professionals, insurance companies, pharmaceutical corporations, and the legal system, this handbook acts as the official and standard criteria for classifying mental disorders. Since everyone occasionally overeats, the designation of binge eating as a legitimate mental illness almost seems imprecise and excessive, but binging is associated with seriously negative psychological symptoms.
The inclusion of binge eating in the DSM-5 is a contentious issue in the mental health community, because some feel it will be over-applied or linked to common problems with overeating.
To illustrate my point, let’s go back to that food coma. After you’ve overeaten, you didn’t feel well, and you were bummed out, confused as to why you thought six slices of pizza and a two liter of soda was a good idea, and you probably wanted to turn back time and eat a salad. Those feelings are light-hearted representations of depression, guilt, and lack of self control, which are all manifestations of a mental illness. (more…)
“The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
While we all aspire to be eternally young, one part of youth we can all do without is the irrational sense of invincibility. That, and the overpowering need to be accepted by the “in crowd.”
With that in mind, it’s not hard to believe that the highest percentage of problem drinkers is college students. Heavy drinking, mixed with youthful hormones and naivety, leads to violence, careless sexual activity, and now something that is being called drunkorexia.
Recent Canadian research has found that young men and women are skipping meals, yet are also consuming a day’s worth of calories in alcohol. In other words, young people who want to lose weight, but still want to party, cut out the meals in order to do so and stay thin. They may also be drinking excessively with the intention of purging previously consumed food.
While it’s not yet a recognized eating disorder, the health risks of drunkorexia are very real. Weight-conscious drinkers are risking nutrient deprivation, liver damage, and death.
It’s not a problem exclusive to the U.S. or college-age kids for that matter. (more…)
If you want to talk about a touchy subject, bring up the term “anorexia” and eyebrows will quickly raise and the room will become uncomfortably quiet. The reality is, there’s a relatively high chance that someone you know has either privately or publicly struggled with an eating disorder. Because so many remain private in their dealings with disorders like anorexia, pro-anorexia or ‘pro-ana websites‘ that provide resources and support – two terms used loosely and subjectively in this context – have become a big presence online, and a big problem from a mental health standpoint.
Bailey, 29 (who wished to leave her last name anonymous), became anorexic when she was 17, but had always struggled with self image growing up. Though she was never overweight, she felt uncomfortable in her athletic body so she started to severely restrict her diet. Bailey’s 5 foot 6 frame shrunk from 135 pounds to 105 pounds, whittling her hourglass shape to one that she describes as looking “very sick.”
Knowing she needed help after nearly skimming 100 pounds, Bailey sought treatment, which ultimately turned out to be a disappointment. “I found therapy frustrating because it was focused around getting me back up to weight, not why I was doing these things,” she recalls. “I can’t say for sure what healed me, but I believe it was…realizing that I was all I had, so I had to take care of me.”
Now, years later and on the other side of anorexia, Bailey can easily say that pro-anorexia sites do very little good, if any, to actually stem anorexia. “In my opinion, they teach people to be better anorexics – which isn’t a good thing,” she said. What I needed was strengths counseling – a safe arena in which to air my feelings, and support to retrain myself to eat for a healthy life, not an imaginary body.”
As for whether or not she’s fully recovered from anorexia, Bailey said it’s been a process that she thinks may never end. “I still struggle with this at times, and it’s still tough,” she admits. “I don’t think it’s a disease that anyone ever ‘gets over.’ They just have ‘more ordered eating’ than ‘disordered eating.'” (more…)
We’re thrilled to introduce you to the newest member of our DietsInReview.com team. Brooke Randolph, LMHC will be a regular contributor, with articles publishing each Tuesday. Brooke will share and discuss the connection between mental health and nutrition and exercise.
Brooke is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, practicing in Indiana, where she works with adults and children as a personal therapist, life coach and educator. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Anderson University and a Master’s degree in Community Counseling from Ball State University. Her career has allowed her to serve individuals in many capacities, and she’s also experienced with eating disorders in pre-teens/teens, adoption preparation, providing mental health therapy during disasters, stress management and other professional services.
When not working closely with her clients, you can find Brooke burning up a dance floor! She’s a wildly talented dancer, teaching and performing salsa; she is also trained in belly dancing, cha cha, mambo, swing and others.
Please join us in welcoming Brooke Randolph to DietsInReview.com, and join her every Tuesday as she helps you battle the bulge by battling with your mind.