5 Challenges That Couples Affected By An Eating Disorder Have

5 challenges that couples affected by an eating disorder have

One of the necessary pillars for recovery from an Eating Disorder (ED) is the support of the patients’ family, both on an instrumental, economic and emotional level. Scientific research and clinical experience show that the role of caregivers is fundamental when addressing an eating disorder, highlighting the functions played by parents, grandparents or siblings of patients as “one more arm” with which everything must work. interdisciplinary team of health professionals.

However, it is also necessary to emphasize that Friends and partners of people affected by an eating disorder play a vital role in supporting recovery. These latter people, however, often face a series of particular challenges as a result of their partner’s illness, which tend to be overlooked despite their importance in adherence to treatment. Therefore, below we will describe 5 challenges that couples of people who are going through an eating disorder have and what are some possible ways to overcome them.

The challenges of partners of those experiencing an eating disorder

Accompanying a couple who is suffering from an eating disorder is not a linear, simple or dilemma-free process. Often, partners of patients with eating disorders do not have sufficient coping strategies to deal with the problem. The lack of information about the pathology, the prognosis and the lack of support from some health services therefore causes these people to present high levels of psychological discomfort. Stating the challenges of those who are in a relationship with a person affected by an eating disorder is extremely important, as it can help them to be aware of their particular situation and, if necessary, ask for professional help. Some of the challenges they may face during this process are the following:

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1. Psychoeducation

It is common that the partners of people with eating disorders do not have sufficient information about this type of disorder, since, in general terms, it is a trend that extends throughout the entire population. The lack of psychoeducation can lead people to deny the seriousness of EDs and consider them as “mild disorders”, when in truth they are serious pathologies, which require rapid treatment, and which could represent a risk to the lives of the patients. patients. Three general elements that all couples affected by eating disorders should know are the following:

What is a TCA?

Eating disorders involve a set of serious mental health illnesses—such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia, or binge eating—linked to problems in the way a person thinks, feels, and behaves around food and their self-image, developing an obsession around weight.

Why does someone develop an eating disorder?’

An eating disorder can affect anyone, regardless of their age group, gender and social class. EDs are multifactorially determined That is, there are various reasons why someone can trigger one of these pathologies. Its cause is influenced by individual factors – such as low self-esteem, a fragile identity, having suffered traumatic experiences of physical, sexual, emotional abuse, etc. -, genetic factors and hereditary predispositions, and also sociocultural factors. We live in societies that worship perfect bodies and encourage the following of restrictive diets, causing many people to develop problematic relationships with food and their self-image.

What does the treatment consist of?

If detected early, patients with ED have a high chance of recovering. The treatment must be carried out by a team made up of psychologists, psychiatrists and specialized nutritionists. In these teams, If there is a risk to life, nutritional deficiencies are usually treated first and then move on to the mental health dimension. It is important to clarify that a patient can have a normal weight but still suffer from this type of disorder. The role of family, friends and partners is essential to sustain treatment, and their way of dealing with the disease must always be guided by the team.

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2. Manage the emotions derived from the situation

Scientific evidence indicates that people who play the role of caregivers of patients with eating disorders tend to show high levels of psychological distress, particularly anxiety, as well as feelings of guilt and helplessness. This is because, on many occasions, they feel misunderstood and excluded from treatments. Partners of people with EDs who play this role, therefore, face the challenge of learning to manage the difficult emotions derived from the situation. In line with this point, Going to therapy can greatly favor the process both for their partner and for themselves.

3. Dialogue

A challenge for couples of people who are going through an eating disorder is to take care of the spaces for dialogue. It is important to listen and be understanding of the patient’s situation and, if they are not under treatment, encourage them to become aware of the disease and how necessary professional help is. Judgment or blaming the couple should be avoided (no one is to blame for an eating disorder), but interact in the most affectionate way possible with her with the aim that the person quickly goes to treatment.

4. Falling back on control or overprotection of the couple

It is common for couples, in an attempt to help someone suffering from a disorder of this type, to make decisions whose ultimate purpose is to care for and support their loved one. However, control and overprotection only achieve the opposite effect. If the patient feels too pressured, she could have the perception that others do not trust her ability to get ahead, reinforcing her low self-esteem. For this reason, it is also suggested Do not abandon personal leisure activities or leave work to take care of your partner without a professional recommending it.

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5. Relapsing into blame

As we indicated previously, the person who is suffering from an eating disorder should never be blamed for their illness. The goal should always be that what the affected person requires from their partner is their support, empathy, and that they accompany them in the treatment. However, a challenge for couples is also not to blame themselves. The disorder originates from various causes, and although certain social and family factors may have influenced its triggering, these factors by themselves are not sufficient to cause an eating disorder. Hypothesizing about the causes of the disorder, instead of helping with remission, could interfere with treatment.