Eating Disorders and Self- Harm
Upon first arriving at The Victorian the clients sit down
with a Case Manager and set their goals. They discuss their eating disorder(s),
other addictions, past trauma, family history and incidents of self-harm.
Clients with self-harming backgrounds are closely monitored and observed by
Support Staff for signs of improvement or set back. The self-harming behaviors are
addressed in private counseling sessions with the Victorian therapists.
Self-harm has been around for years with the recovery
community. However, many families are still uneducated on the cause and effects
What is self-harm?
Self-Harm is a behavior that can include, biting, burning
cutting, picking ones skin and hair-pulling until an injury occurs.
Why do people do
There are many functions that self-injury can serve. Most
noted is the release of anxiety in relating to other people and related to
internal thoughts and emotions. Self-harm is triggered by desiring help from
others or one’s inability to deal with a stressful situation. Intrapresonally
self-harm helps with regulating overwhelming emotions and generate feelings emotional numbness which
separates the mind from feelings that are causing anguish.
A study published in the latest edition of the Journal of
Adolescent Health found a link in adolescents between eating disorders and self-harming
behaviors like cutting and burning. It also found that in most cases,
clinicians didn't screen for such behaviors (the Victorian is a step ahead of
"Self-injurious behaviors have been shown to be common
in adults with eating disorders and in adolescents with bulimia in small
studies," said study author Dr. Rebecka Peebles, former instructor at the
Stanford University School of Medicine and now an assistant professor at the
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine
reviewed the medical records of nearly 1,500 patients between the ages of 10
and 21 who were diagnosed with an eating disorder at an eating disorder clinic
over an 11-year period. Only about 42% of them had documentation that they were
screened for self-injurious behaviors when they first were seen in the clinic.
Of those who had screening documentation, nearly 41 percent admitted to cutting
or burning themselves.
The study suggested eating disorders and behaviors like
cutting are linked, and also that people with eating disorders need to be more
carefully screened for such behaviors. Experts said the findings help confirm a
long-suspected association between the eating disorders and self-injury, and by
doing so may improve screening measures.
"It's generally held that these behaviors are fueled by
an underlying level of anxiety and they branch out in many different
ways," said Dr. Richard Pesikoff, clinical professor of psychiatry at
Baylor College of Medicine. "People do a variety of self-soothing
behaviors like rocking, picking or cutting." That anxiety in people with
eating disorders, he said, is often very complex and intense.
"The eating soothes the anxiety, but creates a new set
of problems," said Pesikoff. "Then they worry about being fat. Then
they have to resolve that. Then they cut."
The behavior of cutting, which he said is typically done to
the arms, offers physical relief from emotional pain.
"Cutting produces endorphins that produce an anti-anxiety
effect," said Pesikoff.
The experts also said that cutting and burning are methods
people with eating disorders use to punish themselves as a result of
If you or your loved one is struggling
with an eating
disorder and self-harm we encourage you to seek help immediately. We are happy
to answer any questions you may have about treatment and cost: 888.268.9182