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The Connection Between Trauma and Eating Disorders

How to Deal with Trauma in Addiction Recovery

Trauma and eating disorders interact profoundly and intricately, having an immense detrimental impact on the lives of many people. Recent studies have shown a connection between these diseases and traumatic experiences, highlighting the complicated roots of eating disorders.1

We can improve treatment strategies, encourage compassion, and give individuals seeking recovery hope by comprehending this relationship. Below, Banyan Treatment Centers Philadelphia explores the complex relationships between eating disorders and trauma, illuminating the path to recovery and resilience.

Understanding Trauma and Its Impact

Understanding trauma and how it impacts people is essential to understanding the complex relationship that trauma has with eating disorders. Trauma is the term for distressing events that overwhelm a person's capacity for coping and frequently include long-lasting psychological, emotional, and physical effects. Distressing events and experiences are often those of neglect, accidents, natural disasters, and witnessing violence, or they can include physical or sexual abuse. Trauma has an effect on a person's ideas, perceptions, and coping processes long after the initial occurrence.

Trauma's effects can show themselves in various ways, impacting both the body and the psyche. Individuals may suffer from increased anxiety, depression, addiction, and a variety of other mood problems on an emotional level. They may struggle with intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and flashbacks as they struggle with the overpowering recollections of their terrible experience.

A person's cognitive functioning can be affected by trauma, making it more difficult to focus, remember details, or make decisions. A heightened state of alertness may be physically felt by a person when they experience symptoms such as an accelerated heart rate, hypervigilance, and sleep difficulties. The cumulative consequences of trauma can have a profound impact on a person's relationships, sense of self, and general well-being. This is why additional research into the association between trauma and disordered eating is so integral.

Different Types of Trauma

Understanding trauma requires recognizing the diverse range of experiences that can lead to its occurrence.

Types of trauma include:

  • Acute trauma: A single, extremely traumatic event, such as a vehicle accident, physical assault, or natural disaster, might result in this kind of trauma. The abruptness and magnitude of these events can have both short-term and long-term effects on a person's mental and physical health.
  • Chronic trauma: Chronic trauma refers to exposure to upsetting experiences repeatedly and over an extended period of time, frequently in interpersonal connections. Examples include persistent interpersonal violence, maltreatment of children, or residing in a conflict area. Such experiences can have a tremendous impact on a person's sense of safety, trust, and general functioning over time.
  • Complex trauma: The outcome of a lifetime of exposure to several diverse and traumatic events, frequently starting in childhood and continuing into maturity, is complex trauma. Relationship-related interpersonal trauma, which includes persistent abuse, neglect, or witnessing domestic violence, is usually involved.

Recognizing different traumas enables us to grasp the great range of experiences that people might go through. It emphasizes the importance of individualized strategies for dealing with trauma and its effects on mental health and well-being. We can offer more sympathetic and effective help to persons who have gone through such unpleasant circumstances by acknowledging these many types of trauma.

The Relationship Between Trauma and Eating Disorders

Eating disorders and trauma have a complex and intertwined relationship. Traumatic events can have a profound effect on a person's relationship with food, perception of their bodies, and sense of self. Trauma may act as a catalyst for some people, causing them to develop disordered eating patterns as a coping technique. In these situations, the person may use restrictive eating, binge eating, or purging as a means of regaining control or as a way to dull the distressing emotions brought on by the trauma.

Trauma can also contribute to the emergence and upkeep of negative body image. Trauma can alter a person's image of their body, which can result in emotions of humiliation, self-hatred, and discontent. The motivation for excessive dieting, overexercising, or other activities aimed at reaching an idealized and impossible body image might then be fueled by this distorted body image. Trauma can also interfere with the ability to control emotions and cause problems with self-soothing, which helps to maintain disordered eating patterns.

Not everyone who encounters trauma will go on to develop an eating disorder, and not everyone who has an eating disorder has gone through trauma. However, studies have revealed a strong association between the two.1 In order to create complete treatment plans that address both the underlying trauma and the disordered eating habits in order to promote healing, recovery, and general well-being, it is essential to recognize the link between these two experiences.

Our Rehab in Philadelphia Is Here to Help

For individuals living with the repercussions of trauma or seeking treatment for disordered eating, our drug rehab in Langhorne, PA, offers programs to help with both scenarios. We provide life-changing Philadelphia eating disorder treatment that gives clients the opportunity to address their concerns in a safe and supportive environment. Additionally, clients can access trauma therapy that allows them to work through the events that continue to have a detrimental impact on them.

To learn if our recovery programs are a good fit for you or your loved one, call Banyan Philadelphia at 888-280-4763 and speak with a specialist today.


  1. NIH - Eating Disorders, Trauma, PTSD, and Psychosocial Resources

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Perfectionism and Eating Disorders

The Relationship Between Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.