The Relationship Between Eating Disorders And Grief - The Psychology Group Fort Lauderdale

The Relationship Between Grief and Eating Disorders

By Dr. Tali Berliner

Experiencing a significant loss such as losing a loved one, a pet, a relationship, or a job can bring on feelings of grief that can be extremely overwhelming. Typical feelings associated with grief include sadness, anger, guilt, numbness, and confusion. In addition to these emotions, individuals who are grieving may have changes in their appetite, weight, and/or have difficulties with sleep. Individuals may avoid discussing the loss as well as avoid people or places that are associated with their grief. This experience can put an individual in a vulnerable position with regard to their mental health.

An eating disorder can develop when an individual’s inner resources and ability to cope are low. Individuals often struggle to cope and adapt to life changes when grieving. Focusing on food and/or your body can become an easy target in which an individual can seek comfort or distraction through certain behaviors. The period of grief following a loss can feel chaotic causing individuals to seek ways to establish control. Controlling one’s food or exercise routine can provide a false sense of control over one’s life thereby making his/her situation seem more manageable. Furthermore, the emphasis on food, weight, and body provides an easy mental distraction from the pain and anguish of experiencing a loss.

While some initial appetite changes are often normal when grieving, prolonged reliance on food/weight to cope can quickly lead to an eating disorder. 

To determine whether you or your loved one may be using food/weight to cope with grief and are displaying signs of an eating disorder, consider these symptoms:

  • Extreme fluctuations in weight
  • Loss of appetite that leads to purposeful restriction of caloric intake
  • Episodes of binge eating
  • Purging behaviors (vomiting, laxative use, diuretic use, excessive exercise)
  • Preoccupation with numbers including calorie counting, weight, clothing size
  • Increased isolation to avoid food related activities

Grieving the loss of someone or something can shake us to our core and throw us off balance both physically and emotionally. Having the capacity to love deeply puts us in a position to one day feel great loss and pain.

Here are some ways to cope while grieving a loss:

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, are currently grieving a loss, or even need to grieve the loss of your eating disorder, support is available and you are worthy of it. Please contact Dr. Tali Berliner for more information.

Dr. Tali Berliner - Psychologist Fort Lauderdale - The Psychology Group

Dr. Tali Berliner is a psychologist and is an expert in cognitive-behavioral therapy.  Dr. Tali owns her own practice and is a tenant at The Psychology Group Fort Lauderdale.  Call 954-488-2933 x 6 or email today if this post resonated with you to discuss how her services can help you.

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