Erin P. (erinstotle) wrote in ed_ucate,
Erin P.

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Eating disorders & ADD/ADHD

I've been posting here way too much but new things keep popping up into my mind a lot.

I was wondering what the link was between ADD/Eating disorders, so I looked it up. I found something interesting from here (full article) that I thought I would share, but I still feel unsure about it. I don't really like how the article is written either, but okay. For some reason I don't think it's possible for me to have both an ED and ADD even though I can't really concentrate lately, etc. I used to think ADD was not a serious problem and I still think it's mis-diagnosed, but lately I've been on this "information binge" on it. I know only my psychiatrist could help me figure this out but I was wondering what YOUR personal experiences are. So my question is: Are any of you diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and an ED? Does having ADD aggravate your ED symptoms, or vis versa?

Most of us overeat at times. We may eat for sheer enjoyment even if we’re not hungry, or we may eat more than we intend to at a dinner party or celebration. But for some, overeating becomes a compulsion they cannot stop. Compulsive overeaters lose control of their ability to stop eating. They use food to alter their feelings rather than satisfy hunger. Compulsive overeaters tend to crave foods high in carbohydrates, sugars, and salt.

Binge eating differs from compulsive overeating in that the binge eater enjoys the rush and stimulation of planning the binge. Buying the food and finding the time and place to binge in secret creates a level of risk and excitement that the ADD brain craves. Large amounts of food high in carbohydrates and sugars are rapidly consumed in a short period of time. The binge itself may only last fifteen to twenty minutes. Proper levels of serotonin and dopamine aid in impulse control problems that contribute to binge eating and bulimia.

Bulimia is binge eating accompanied by purging. The bulimic experiences the rush of planning the binge, which can be very stimulating for the person with ADD. In addition, the bulimic may be stimulated by the satiation bingeing provides; then, he or she adds an additional dimension to the process: the relief of purging. Many bulimics report entering an altered state of consciousness, experiencing feelings of calmness and euphoria after they vomit. This cleansing provides relief which is short-lived, and so the bulimic is soon bingeing again.

Our culture is obsessed with thinness: "Food is OK, but, don’t gain weight." No wonder so many adolescent boys and girls, as well as women and men, become imprisoned in binge-and-purge cycles, chronic dieting, and anorexia nervosa.

Anorexia can be deadly. Anorectics have lost their ability to eat in a healthy way. Self-starvation is characterized by loss of control. They are obsessed with thoughts of food, body image, and diet. Anorectics can also use laxatives, diuretics, enemas, and compulsive exercise to maintain their distorted image of thinness.

As we learn more about ADD, we discover that people manifest ADD traits differently. Obsessing on food, exercise, and thinness gives the anorectic a way to focus their chaotic ADD brains. They become over-focused on thoughts and behaviors that related to food. Frequently these people will only become aware of their high level of activity, distractibility, and impulsiveness after they have been in recovery for anorexia. Self-starvation curtails hyperactivity.

Distractibility and spacey-ness are characteristics of both anorexia and bulimia, whether or not they’re accompanied by ADD. In each case the inability to concentrate or focus results because the brain is not being properly nourished. For people with ADD, however, there is a history of attention difficulties that predates the eating disorder. Their concentration, impulse problems, and activity level may not improve when their eating disorder is treated. As a matter of fact, their ADD traits can get worse once they are no longer self-medicating with food, or organizing their lives around food and exercise. If you are someone who has struggled with eating disorders, and suspect you may have ADD, it is important to get an evaluation. Both your eating disorders and your ADD must be treated.

Source: (20 Apr 2006)

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