Posts Tagged Addiction
For National Eating Disorder Awareness Week this year, we wanted to highlight a local community member and eating disorder awareness advocate, Amy Babich. Amy was gracious enough to provide us with her thoughts, experience, and resources to help others that may be struggling with an eating disorder. Amy’s insights are below:
This week is NEDA Week, a.k.a. National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and every year I make it a priority to openly discuss this deadly disease that is often left in the dark. Unfortunately, it seems that unless a celebrity addresses the topic, or an extremely severe case finds its way to the media, eating disorders are rarely talked about. This makes them more stigmatized, underfunded, and a seemingly ‘less important’ mental health issue. Also, the lack of discussion and education about eating disorders can make it much more difficult for those struggling to seek help.
- Anorexia nervosa has the highest overall mortality rate and the highest suicide rate of any psychiatric disorder.
- Eating disorders have very low federal funding, totaling to only $28 million per year. *To give you an idea of how limited that amount of research money is, Alcoholism: 18 x more funding ($505 million), Schizophrenia: 13 x more funding ($352 million), and Depression: 12 x more funding ($328 million)
- Every 62 minutes, at least one person dies from an eating disorder.
- There are more eating disorders than just anorexia and bulimia; there is also EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified), orthorexia, ARFID(avoidant restrictive food intake disorder), and diabulimia.
- Only 1 in 10 people with an eating disorder will receive treatment in their lifetime.
- Insurance companies’ often refuse coverage for eating disorder treatment. *Based on level of care needed, treatment costs between $500-$2,000 PER DAY.
My Own Battle
It took me many years, and numerous rounds of treatment, to get to where I am today: recovered from anorexia. I wanted to start by saying that so that people can realize if recovering from an eating disorder was as simple as “just eat your food,” it wouldn’t have taken 4+ years, 3 different facilities, and 8 admissions to do so. For me, my eating disorder was a slow suicide, and one of the many self-destructive behaviors I engaged in. It wasn’t about the food, and if you ever are to hear anyone talk about eating disorders, they’ll also tell you the same.
Recovery didn’t come until I really wanted it, which took much longer than the people who were by my side through it all had hoped, including myself. What it really took for me to choose recovery was a very serious medical complication. In my last relapse, I had a seizure on my best friend’s floor at 2 a.m. The seizure was caused by refeeding syndrome, which is a life-threatening reaction that the body has when it is severely malnourished, then suddenly increases its food intake. Unfortunately, it took me losing complete control over my body to want to take back control of my life; and as strange as it may sound, I am so grateful for that seizure, and truly don’t know if I’d be here now, had it not happened.
Because of the struggles I have endured, I am an advocate for eating disorders, mental health, the LGBTQ+ community, women, and children. I believe whole-heartedly that I am here on this earth to let people know that they are not alone.
To Those Struggling
There is help out there, and it’s okay to ask for it. That’s why things like eating disorder treatment facilities, programs, and specialized therapists exist. Know that you are worthy of love, happiness, and freedom and that you are not alone. Asking for support takes a great amount of strength, so please try not to look at it as a weakness. Recovery is possible, and this big, beautiful, chaotic mess of a world needs you. Stay strong, and keep fighting.
NEDA Helpline: 1-800-931-2237
Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-223-5001
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
With wishes of happiness & health,
Final thoughts from MINES
Eating disorders are serious. Please don’t wait to reach out if you need assistance. Employee Assistance Programs like MINES are here to provide resources and guidance to make sure you get the help you need. We are always here to talk. Please call us at 1-800-873-7138 if you or someone you care about is struggling with an eating disorder, depression, or any other work/life issues that you may need help with.
Mindfulness receives a significant amount of attention and discussion throughout the media. Mindfulness is the practice of attending to one’s experience in the present moment in a non-attached manner. The experiences may include thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and external stimuli. Jon Kabat-Zinn defined it as “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmental.” (source: http://www.wildmind.org/applied/daily-life/what-is-mindfulness)
Mindfulness relates to the psychology of performance directly in that when the individual’s beliefs/filters/assumptions/schemas that are the cognitive filters we perceive events through are irrational, the individual can get emotionally triggered. This reaction can lead to negative judgmental statements that interfere with performance in any area of one’s life. For example, at a recent tae kwon do tournament, I was coaching a participant who lost a match. He had a set of beliefs that were perfectionistic: all or none. This led him to a series of negative self-talk statements such as “I am no good; I am a bad person; I can’t get this right.” He then sat down, became non-communicative, tearful, and refused to fight in the next match resulting in another “defeat” as he was classified as a no-show and the fight went to the opponent. It took a series of discussions regarding his negative self-talk and corresponding negative feelings and physical sensations for him to get to the non-judgmental state of mind where he could then start to be kind toward himself. The important elements of this example are that the individual perceived an event through a negative set of beliefs resulting in judgmental, negative self-talk leading to negative, low performance behavior. The examples from business, relationships, sports, the arts, and other areas are endless.
The practical question is how can anyone enhance their performance if these automatic thoughts evoke almost instantaneous negative reactions? The first aspect to be learned and practiced is to learn to sit mindfully and observe without judgment one’s thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations as they arise and disappear. The breath (mantras, chants, and other focus objects) is often used as an anchor activity to return the mindfulness awareness to when the mind wanders. Many examples can be found on youtube. This is one that MINES produced as a quick starting point.
After observing the thoughts, feelings, and body sensations, one proceeds to notice any judgments about them. This is a starting point for analyzing these judgments and how they impact performance in any area of concern. To the extent that the judgments are viewed as dysfunctional, irrational, or just plain unfounded or unsubstantiated, they are fair game for retraining your self and your reactions under those circumstances so as to improve performance the next time.
Other blogs have addressed areas that can also negatively affect performance that mindfulness also can shine the light of nonattached observation related to conditions such as sleep deprivation, substance use, over eating, lack of exercise, and others that also negatively affect performance.
Have a day filled with mindfulness,
Robert A. Mines, Ph.D., CEO & Psychologist
It may be self-evident to many of you reading this blog that alcohol use, sleep deprivation, and obesity can negatively affect performance at work or at home. If this is a correct assumption and you have all three of these areas under control, thank you. On the other hand, after 39 years of working with people and organizations on these issues it is clear to me that our society continues to miss the boat on them.
This week alone, I had client organizations call about each of these concerns. In one case a senior executive was observed to drink one bottle of wine at a company function, plus cocktails before dinner. Her behavior became problematic when she propositioned a male colleague, angrily denied she had drank too much and proceeded to accuse others on her executive team of “being out to get her.” To make this situation even sadder, the executive had done something similar three years earlier at the same company function. This became a performance issue at a number of levels. First, upon investigation, it turned out she had a number of days in the last few months where her secretary reported she left early for lunch and never returned resulting in significant loss of individual productivity. Second, she created liability for her company when she propositioned a colleague. This created a potentially hostile work environment/sexual harassment lawsuit. In addition, there was lost time for human resources, management, and legal to review the situation and interview all parties. Third, when confronted with her behavior and the company’s requirement to go to the employee assistance program for an evaluation and potential referral for treatment if indicated, she refused and resigned. This resulted in additional loss of intellectual capital and the personal long term health costs to her. This reminder for everyone in supervisor, management, or executive functions is that alcohol and other substance use disorders have not diminished despite policies, procedures,’ and education interventions. It is important to stay alert to your employees’ and colleagues’ behavior and act in a timely and compassionate manner similar to the company discussed in this paragraph.
The research on sleep deprivation is well documented. Sleep deprived individuals do not function well cognitively and their reaction times are diminished. This finding was significant enough for one researcher to say that sleep deprived drivers were more dangerous than alcohol impaired drivers. What are the costs to your organization related to sleep deprivation? We know that individuals who are sleep deprived eat more, make poorer food and exercise decisions, are more irritable with others, and make poor decisions. Many companies recognize the dangers of sleep deprivation and provide nap rooms, meditation classes, and other options so that employees can refresh themselves and perform better at work.
Obesity, wellness, and financial impact discussions are ubiquitous on the internet and in the professional literature. Our workforces are getting fatter and fatter. Recent research suggested that obesity not only has downstream health costs for the employer, there is some evidence that cognitive functions can be influenced as well. This research needs to be replicated. Then there is the subgroup of morbidly obese individuals who also have co-morbid depression. Depression affects performance in terms of diminished problem solving skills, concentration problems, social withdrawal, lowered energy which is compounded by the lower energy associated with morbid obesity, as well as other symptoms such as memory impairment. Any of these symptoms will negatively affect performance in most jobs. As an employer it will become an even heavier burden going forward to manage the workforce as the obesity incidence continues to grow. What is becoming more apparent is that the typical wellness program is unsuccessful in helping the morbidly obese. A major component that is missing is the psychological aspects of performance related to weight loss and weight gain. The research in this area has been well established for over 25 years. Coors Brewing in 1988 was one of the first companies to incorporate an intensive outpatient obesity program as part of its wellness program. It was a highly successful program. Unfortunately during that time there were many fasting programs and one of the unintended side effects of these programs was an increase in gall bladder surgeries and the corresponding cost. Due to a variety of factors beyond the scope of this blog, all weight loss programs were discontinued a few years later. There are best practice examples of successful interventions with the morbidly obese employee population which apply the psychological elements needed to lose and sustain weight loss.
Contact us if you would like to learn more:
Have a day filled with loving kindness and compassion,
Robert A. Mines, Ph.D., CEO & Psychologist
I recently attended an annual dinner/forum for a local non-profit group which focused on Drug Abuse Prevention. We’ve all heard, or experienced first-hand, the devastating effects of drug abuse on family, employment, education, and just about every other facet of human life. What we don’t always hear about are the amazing efforts by some making an incredible impact on prevention. By taking small steps to identify risk factors, especially for our youth, we can have a tremendous impact. At the forum, one of the panelists made a great point about how parents and doctors don’t ask the difficult questions, and often times because they are afraid of the answer, or maybe they are suffering themselves. Why do our doctors have no problem asking us about our diets and suggesting cholesterol screenings, but very seldom ask us a simple question like, “How are you feeling emotionally?” or, “Does your child seem to be fitting in, and participating in a healthy way?” When we look at diabetes and heart disease compared to major depression or substance abuse disorders only a small fraction of those suffering from behavioral disorders are actually being diagnosed and treated compared with their medical counterparts.
As the prescription drug epidemic continues to rise we need to do more in the area of prevention. Here are some wonderful resources for prescription drug abuse prevention from our friends at Peer Assistance Services:
Manager, Business Development
In over 35 years of working with people on making change, improving their performance, and living more fully it is still interesting to me how many people persist in doing the same self-defeating actions over and over despite saying they want to improve, grow, or change for the better (whatever that means). So the following are four questions worth asking yourself if you want to improve your performance in some area of your life.
- Situation Questions – Tell me about your life? How is it working now?
- Problem Questions – Can we be specific about what is not working? Are you concerned about your current quality of performance?
- Implication Questions – What happens if you don’t do something different?
- Need-Payoff Questions – If you act and it improves – how does that impact your life?
Take time to reflect on these questions, write down your answers, and be curious about where this may take you. If you find yourself resisting the questions or process, look more deeply into that instead.
It’s up to you….as they say “no one can do your push-ups for you.”
Exchange love and happiness with everyone you meet today.
Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.
CEO & Psychologist
The book, Spark, by John J. Ratey, M.D. is the holy grail of research applications related to the interaction of exercise, neuroplasticity, and performance. The information on brain chemistry changes in the areas of learning, addictions, anxiety, depression, women’s issues, ADHD, and aging is priceless. The essence of the book is that the data indicated the brain is able to create new neuronal connections, grow new nerve cells throughout life, manage major psychological conditions, pain conditions, and learning is significantly enhanced through exercise. Ratey stated that “exercise is the single most powerful tool you have to optimize your brain function”- based on hundreds of research studies (p.245). Ratey suggested that the more fit you get (regardless of where you start), the “ more resilient your brain becomes and the better it functions both cognitively and psychologically. If you get your body in shape, your mind will follow” (p. 247).
How much is enough? Ratey stated that walking is enough. Low-intensity exercise is at 55 to 65% of maximum heart rate, moderate is 65-75% and high intensity is 75-90%. “The process of getting fit is all about building up your aerobic base” (p.251). Ratey goes on to discuss the role of strength training and flexibility as important elements of optimizing your brain chemistry and hormone levels.
What does this have to do with optimizing your performance at work and in all areas of your life? Everything! Get started today and stick with it.
Have a day filled with optimal brain chemistry,
Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.
CEO & Psychologist
I ran across some interesting information on the role of niacin, depression, and alcoholism in performance at www.doctoryourself.com. It is well documented that depression and/or alcoholism may negatively affect performance across just about any domain one can perform in. In the treatment of depression and alcoholism there are very effective cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy interventions. In addition, exercise and medication may add additional therapeutic effects. The role of nutrition may have further potentiating influence.
According to this site, Bill W., the founder of AA, was successfully treated for depression with 3,000 mg of niacin a day. Unfortunately, this information has not been widely discussed or published in the media. I would be interested to hear from any of you who have used niacin as a means of treating depression or alcoholism and what your results were. Please let us at MINES know.
Have a day filled with mindfulness,
Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.
CEO & Psychologist
Overcoming any addiction is often a life-long journey filled with as many peaks as there are valleys. Getting support from your family, friends, and treatment providers is an important part of maintaining sobriety. If you are looking for additional support check out these free resources at http://store.samhsa.gov/home . As always, we’re here to help.
~The HealthPsych Team