View Full Version : Adhd, shame and eating disorders


hg12345
01-11-16, 06:10 AM
I was recently diagnosed with an eating disorder- atypical anorexia (ednos). I've been doing lots of research to find a connection between adhd and eating disorders. It's so interesting to me that there is so little research and information on the topic. My eating disorder was absolutely an outcome of late diagnosed adhd and shame that I developed in relation to the adhd. I see a clear connection between the 2 and it's funny to me that there is hardly any data regarding this.
Anyone else with these thoughts?

sarahsweets
01-11-16, 10:07 AM
I think its possible. But I dont necessarily think adhd untreated or not can cause an eating disorder. We have some many of us with comorbids that alot of times they are overlooked while we are trying to get the adhd under control. Also stimulants are appetite suppressants so not eating because we are not hungry can help us develop bad habits.

Fuzzy12
01-11-16, 10:56 AM
I can imagine there is a link. My eating disorder were always linked with trying to get my life, or rather my emotions, under control. Funnily enough, stimulants helped me hugely. I wasn't strictly anorexic though but I always kept cycling between fasting, starving myself, being bulimic and binge eating. Once I started taking stimulants all that stopped and I was able to just eat normally. Or rather I stopped obsessing so much about food all the time. Having lost my appetite actually helped me because I could focus on just eating healthy.

It might be different if you are anorexic though. I remember when I started taking anti depressants they killed my appetite as well but that triggered a bad period of consciously starving myself. So I do think, it was the treatment for ADHD, in particular, that helped.

Sorry, not sure I'm talking much sense. My brain is a bit of mess these days.

Unmanagable
01-11-16, 11:30 AM
I would think the inability to regulate emotions, which seems to be a strong common denominator in both adhd and eating disorders, would be a pretty strong connection, too.

The shame triggers the emotions and the domino effects of however that affects your attempting to bury the feelings within kicks into high gear. I used to eat and drink damn near everything in sight hoping to suffocate or drown my emotions out. A lifelong struggle, until recently. Food addiction goes totally overlooked by many.

I had untreated adhd for 43 years, not sure how to tell if my eating coping mechanisms were created because of that, or in spite of that. There's so many other things it could be, too.

How in the world could one ever sort it all out for certain and be confident in knowing it truly was because of one single thing? I'd be fascinated and thrilled if that were possible and accurate.

Socaljaxs
01-11-16, 12:11 PM
I was recently diagnosed with an eating disorder- atypical anorexia (ednos). I've been doing lots of research to find a connection between adhd and eating disorders. It's so interesting to me that there is so little research and information on the topic. My eating disorder was absolutely an outcome of late diagnosed adhd and shame that I developed in relation to the adhd. I see a clear connection between the 2 and it's funny to me that there is hardly any data regarding this.Anyone else with these thoughts?

I can see a connection between ADHD and eating disorders. Not nessasarly a causation between the two but I do see the connection....I do believe for an untreated ADHD person they will be seeking to find some form of gaining control over oneself... Just like other will find ways to numb themselves or other outlets... Some will look for parts of themselves to be able to control. For some that includes their weight and dieting... My cousin and I talked about this a few years back, she is ADHD. And when she feels she has no control of what is going on around her she will start trying to take control of her eating and dieting.


I can imagine there is a link. My eating disorder were always linked with trying to get my life, or rather my emotions, under control. Funnily enough, stimulants helped me hugely. I wasn't strictly anorexic though but I always kept cycling between fasting, starving myself, being bulimic and binge eating. Once I started taking stimulants all that stopped and I was able to just eat normally. Or rather I stopped obsessing so much about food all the time. Having lost my appetite actually helped me because I could focus on just eating healthy.

It might be different if you are anorexic though. I remember when I started taking anti depressants they killed my appetite as well but that triggered a bad period of consciously starving myself. So I do think, it was the treatment for ADHD, in particular, that helped.

Sorry, not sure I'm talking much sense. My brain is a bit of mess these days.

Yup same principles of trying to find control

Delphine
01-11-16, 03:37 PM
For where you are, my opinion is that is might help you most if you don't try to link everything up just yet.

Accepting ourselves and who we are.... and where we are.... is a good first step.

Often, upon recent diagnosis of anything, we need to stop and breathe a bit and come to terms with the recently discovered pieces.

Perhaps that is the same for everyone, ADHD or not?.... (Perhaps... I can't say for sure...)

But coming to terms with new things.... one bit.. (or one bite)... at a time, is the best way for me to handle anything anyway.

So now you have this new information about yourself.
How do you feel about that? Are you okay with it?
Can you say "okay, now I know this and understand more about what's been going on with me"...... as opposed to using any of this information to rush off and "fix" yourself.... Because none of us need to 'fix' ourselves, ever.

We just need to gain as much information as we can about ourselves so we can go live the best life we can from there.

It's always the same work. To accept ourselves as we are (ideally, to love ourselves as we are)... so we make it easier to live in a world where others take the same attitude to us.

So now you know you have an eating disorder too. What changes for you? Are you not the same lovely person you were before you knew this? (..and did you know how lovely you were before dx? That's worth discovering, even if it's a journey for you.)

hg12345
01-15-16, 01:19 AM
I think the link between eating disorders and ADHD is a combination of a few things. For me, it was the anxiety and embarrassment that I felt because of my inability to do what everyone around me was capable of doing. Now add the poor emotional regulation that adhd causes and you have intense feelings with no way to process them. Eating disorders, unlike other comorbid disorders are not caused by a chemical imbalance. It's purely a coping skill- just like self harm. That is why there must be a connection between adhd and eating disorders. There is some research indicating a connection.
I found a few article linking the 2. Here's a piece from one of them:
"The Link Between ADHD and Eating Disorders

If you struggle with an eating disorder, ADHD may be at the heart of it. Unfortunately, many girls are not diagnosed with ADHD until later in life.

Evidence suggests a strong link between individuals with ADD/ADHD and eating disorders such as:

compulsive overeating
binging
binging and purging (Bulimia)
self-starvation (Anorexia)
Passionately working with countless women over the years, I have seen this strong link in my own practice. The underlying problem is, many women (girls) are not diagnosed with ADHD in childhood, because they often do not exhibit the classic trait of hyperactivity as boys typically do. Instead, many girls’ ADHD manifests itself in inattentiveness and difficulty focusing. Being improperly diagnosed (or not diagnosed at all), many girls turn to food to ease their symptoms.

Why food?

Eating disorders are a method of self-medicating. People who feel out of control, people who feel pain or confusion, people who feel chaotic – well, they want to feel better. We can all sympathize with that at some point in our lives.

Individuals with ADHD feel that way constantly. Food makes them feel better. The drug-like effects of food are only temporary, which in turn leads to compulsive behaviors. As any addict does, sufferers of undiagnosed ADHD begin to obsess about getting their next “fix.”

Most compulsive overeaters, bingers, and Bulimics crave sugary, high-carbohydrate foods. These foods can actually change the brain’s neurochemistry in a person with ADHD, as the ADD brain is slower to absorb glucose. Sugary, high-carb foods also increase Serotonin levels, which helps alleviate anxiety, irritability, and depression.

It makes sense that food is a “drug of choice” among many individuals with ADHD, as they can turn to it at a young age to soothe their restless, chaotic brains. After eating, they can feel alert, calm, and focused for a time. They can feel in control.

For some, self-starvation is their way to curtail distractability, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity. The obsession with thinness and not eating helps focus their mind and in itself feels therapeutic and calming.

Obviously eating disorders of all kinds, whether compulsive overeating, binging, binging and purging, or starvation, can lead to serious health problems. In my practice, I usually look to ADHD as a potential root problem, with eating disorders as a symptom"
Google Laura Muggli ADHD and eating disorders for more information.

Theres also a book by Carolyn Piver Dukarm, called:
"Pieces of a Puzzle: The Link Between Eating Disorders and ADD"

I'm curious to know where research will take us pertaining to this topic in a few years.

Unmanagable
01-15-16, 10:06 AM
I think the link between eating disorders and ADHD is a combination of a few things. For me, it was the anxiety and embarrassment that I felt because of my inability to do what everyone around me was capable of doing. Now add the poor emotional regulation that adhd causes and you have intense feelings with no way to process them. Eating disorders, unlike other comorbid disorders are not caused by a chemical imbalance. It's purely a coping skill- just like self harm. That is why there must be a connection between adhd and eating disorders. There is some research indicating a connection.
I found a few article linking the 2. Here's a piece from one of them:
"The Link Between ADHD and Eating Disorders

If you struggle with an eating disorder, ADHD may be at the heart of it. Unfortunately, many girls are not diagnosed with ADHD until later in life.

Evidence suggests a strong link between individuals with ADD/ADHD and eating disorders such as:

compulsive overeating
binging
binging and purging (Bulimia)
self-starvation (Anorexia)
Passionately working with countless women over the years, I have seen this strong link in my own practice. The underlying problem is, many women (girls) are not diagnosed with ADHD in childhood, because they often do not exhibit the classic trait of hyperactivity as boys typically do. Instead, many girls’ ADHD manifests itself in inattentiveness and difficulty focusing. Being improperly diagnosed (or not diagnosed at all), many girls turn to food to ease their symptoms.

Why food?

Eating disorders are a method of self-medicating. People who feel out of control, people who feel pain or confusion, people who feel chaotic – well, they want to feel better. We can all sympathize with that at some point in our lives.

Individuals with ADHD feel that way constantly. Food makes them feel better. The drug-like effects of food are only temporary, which in turn leads to compulsive behaviors. As any addict does, sufferers of undiagnosed ADHD begin to obsess about getting their next “fix.”

Most compulsive overeaters, bingers, and Bulimics crave sugary, high-carbohydrate foods. These foods can actually change the brain’s neurochemistry in a person with ADHD, as the ADD brain is slower to absorb glucose. Sugary, high-carb foods also increase Serotonin levels, which helps alleviate anxiety, irritability, and depression.

It makes sense that food is a “drug of choice” among many individuals with ADHD, as they can turn to it at a young age to soothe their restless, chaotic brains. After eating, they can feel alert, calm, and focused for a time. They can feel in control.

For some, self-starvation is their way to curtail distractability, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity. The obsession with thinness and not eating helps focus their mind and in itself feels therapeutic and calming.

Obviously eating disorders of all kinds, whether compulsive overeating, binging, binging and purging, or starvation, can lead to serious health problems. In my practice, I usually look to ADHD as a potential root problem, with eating disorders as a symptom"
http://lauramuggli.com/2013/03/the-link-between-adhd-and-eating-disorders/

Theres also a book by Carolyn Piver Dukarm, called:
"Pieces of a Puzzle: The Link Between Eating Disorders and ADD"

I'm curious to know where research will take us pertaining to this topic in a few years.

:yes:

Glad to know there's more being looked at as far as the possibilities of it all being connected. My own journey has taught me it's a very clear connection. Hoping more have an opportunity to experience relief by having the means to healthily learn more about it and try it out.

Klloyd72
08-12-16, 11:22 PM
I'm nervous about a med change with my eating disorder. I had been on focalin XR for over 10 years. It seemed to work until this year. Something changed and the focalin isn't working. I'm stuck with my mind racing and I don't know how to calm it. The irritability set in I guess. My friend said that day the focalin XR never worked again. It also began to give me heart palpitations.
Now sets in the guilt and anger. Why does my brain work this way. He said I made no sense when I spoke.
I went to my MD and he changed me to adderall XR.
Apparently the Adderall didn't work but my eating disorder is in full swing.
The dr now gave me a choice of what meds Adderall, Vyvanse, Focalin or Concerta.
The only one I have never tried is Vyvanse. I'm afraid my anorexia will get worse and I'm embarrassed to even let my friend know I am battling that too.
What's the general consensus on Vyvanse with anorexia?

C15H25N3O
08-29-16, 05:27 AM
I cannot read the whole thread and it might be already mentioned.

Eating food increases dopamine and can be a kind of self-gratification.

While being on amphetamines you can study your hunger/appetite and
learn to listen to your body.

ThisIsBoring
06-01-17, 03:05 PM
ADHD, or whatever unmanageability issue I am having, is absolutely fueling my ED. Maybe it wasn't the cause, but until I fix whatever is causing this, I don't think I can fix the ED. They are intertwined at this point.

Johnny Slick
06-26-17, 02:00 PM
Super duper late to this, but I still wanted to toss in my two cents as a person who has suffered from obesity for a big chunk of his life in addition to having (undiagnosed) ADHD. I think there are a couple of disparate things that come into play that aren't *exactly* "ADHD causes EDs" but they're in the ballpark.

- What people have said about self-medication is *way* a thing. I did that for *sure* in college and for some time afterwards with caffeinated beverages. Just because you haven't been actively diagnosed doesn't mean you don't notice how much clearer and calmer you get when you're under the effects of stimulants. I used and in my own way abused caffeine in college in particular (if I'd had just drunk a ton of coffee like a "normal" person... but nah, I drank those giant vats of cola you can get at fast food places instead).

My mom suffers from MDD (well, *that* at least is pure speculation, as I don't think she's been officially diagnosed) and also I think medicated with food but in a completely different way.

- The other bit, yeah, the shame, it definitely piles into it. We have to consciously impose *so* much order on our lives sometimes because we just can't trust our subconscious to do it for us. I know that Freud's vision of the mind is mostly crap but it's a good place to start thinking about it, at least. I feel like if Freud knew what ADHD was, he'd say that it was our superego (that part of your subconscious that pulls you back from doing things you shouldn't do, kind of like your "angel brain" if you want to think of humans from that Renaissance era, "half angel, half animal" perspective) constantly losing out to an outsized id (the subconscious "animal brain"), and so our actual ego (our conscious mind) has to generate something like an ersatz superego to combat it. Only it never quite works the way a "real" superego is supposed to and so we find ourselves impulsively eating stuff we're not supposed to, or we mostly do well but then binge, or go way far the other way and deny ourselves much of any enjoyment of food and acquire an undernutrition-related ED instead.

Neither of these are *exactly* a thing where you're like "oh yeah, one symptom of ADHD is an ED", but clearly there's a connection for a lot of people, right?