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Old 01-11-16, 06:10 AM
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Adhd, shame and eating disorders

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?
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Old 01-11-16, 10:07 AM
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Re: Adhd, shame and eating disorders

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.
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Old 01-11-16, 10:56 AM
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Re: Adhd, shame and eating disorders

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.
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Old 01-11-16, 11:30 AM
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Re: Adhd, shame and eating disorders

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.
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Old 01-11-16, 12:11 PM
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Re: Adhd, shame and eating disorders

Quote:
Originally Posted by hg12345 View Post
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.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuzzy12 View Post
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
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Old 01-11-16, 03:37 PM
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Re: Adhd, shame and eating disorders

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.)
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Old 01-15-16, 01:19 AM
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Re: Adhd, shame and eating disorders

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.
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Old 01-15-16, 10:06 AM
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Re: Adhd, shame and eating disorders

Quote:
Originally Posted by hg12345 View Post
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-l...ing-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.


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.
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Old 08-12-16, 11:22 PM
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Re: Adhd, shame and eating disorders

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?
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Old 08-29-16, 05:27 AM
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Re: Adhd, shame and eating disorders

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.
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Old 06-01-17, 03:05 PM
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Re: Adhd, shame and eating disorders

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.
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Old 06-26-17, 02:00 PM
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Re: Adhd, shame and eating disorders

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?
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Old 01-14-18, 09:02 PM
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Re: Adhd, shame and eating disorders

I agree, I wish there was a lot more on the connections between ADHD and ED's. It's soooo needed. Also, ADHD meds and female hair loss needs more info!

This is my first post on a forum so I may as well give telling my story a go!

I'm a 33 female and have had raging Bulimia for around 17 years, unknowingly It was my coping mechanism to get some control of my life because of my ADHD (that I never knew I had, tried super hard to fake being 'normal').

I couldn't handle keeping the ED a secret any longer. After it became life threatening with my heart giving out etc and I couldn't take care of myself , I sought help after years of being on the wrong meds for the wrong diagnosis (Depression)!

The Psychiatrist I went to specialised in ED's made the life saving connection as to why I couldn't complete or make any progress on the 3 month ED program ( lots of planning and routine based techniques that I was unable to focus on, even though I desperately wanted to help myself).

Long story cut short I went on Ritalin and then onto Concerta 36 - 54mg. It stopped the Bulimia in its tracks, so I was a big success story.

Fast forward another 10 months ED free, I lost over 50% of my hair due to the drug.
Most devastating and distressing. I tried other ADHD Meds and had the same result. So I felt like I had no choice but to choose either my brain or my hair!
Vanity got the better of me and to present day I opted to get my hair back!
I now still fight my bulimia but not as bad, I make sure I take Ritalin now and again when it starts getting past 3 purges a day!

Anyway, thanks for reading and If there is anyone out there who has had a similar experience I would love to know your story:-)
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Old 02-27-18, 04:48 PM
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Re: Adhd, shame and eating disorders

Quote:
Originally Posted by hg12345 View Post
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?
Hi, this is my first time at the forum browsing the net looking for others who may understand what I am going through and maybe receive some sound advice. I am 47y.o living in South Australia it is 6am Wed morn. here and again spent the last 48 hours awake, even when I sleep it is brief and the minute I wake my mind is switched on have learned not to bother to go back to sleep pointless. Five years ago I spent 2 weeks in an eating disorder clinic as my weight dropped to below 40kgs. At that time I was not diagnosed with ADHD yet. We were not allowed to leave the ward there was no access to outside fresh air and our days were planned out for us from the minute we woke to the minute we had lights out. Knowing what I do about ADHD now I know I have suffered since childhood which explains why I spent so much time ordered out of class to stand by the door where I wouldn't cause distractions, and my report cards whilst were excellent grades in areas of interest you can clearly see the lessons that I had no interest in. I have had many forms of employment all start out with enthusiastically but this never lasts. I have been asked to leave on a hand full of occasions but usually bowed out before this occurred knowing that my employers were at the end of their rope. I have 2 failed marriages and to many failed relationships in between for me to even wish to recall. Again these started with enthusiasm until my boredom and restlessness set in again. Anorexia started with one of my many diets I attempted got bored and failed again until my last attempt at losing weight approx. 9 years ago. I became obsessive with calories vs calories out used my calorie counter book as the holy bible, after a while I knew the calorie content of everything I ate as well as I knew I had to breathe. People began to comment on my weight loss which only spurred me on, something clicked in my head I was really good at this. Looking back knowing I had undiagnosed ADHD was in my mind the reason I just couldn't stop the obsession with finishing what I started, the exercise helped to get rid of some of my excessive energy and the ability to do my thing without anyone being able to stop and control me drove me on. I always had low self esteem so the urge to keep going was not vanity related it was something bigger then me now and I just couldn't stop it. My clothes hanging off me that were purchased at the children's department, my dry skin, brittle hair fine hairs all over as my body fought to stay warm, my parents in tears my husband going from angry to sad to mad asking me stop putting my kids, family and health at risk were not enough to stop me. I went in to the eating disorder clinic after my Doctor gave me 2 choices go in voluntarily or I will section you. So I voluntarily went in with the mind set of doing my 2 weeks towing the line saying what they wanted to hear leaving and going back to my place of comfort. I went in 39kilo and left 45kg. The morning after leaving I took my children to school one of the other mothers came up to me and said WOW you put on some beef haven't you? Ironically this lady weighed at estimate 140kilos and had trouble fitting in her car. I'm pretty sure she wasn't trying to be nasty she was just thoughtless. I went home and embraced the familiar I welcomed back ED. At the clinic we had to give our 'disease' as they called it a name so I called mine ED for obvious reasons. Away I went again, this is why I sit here today alone in my rented home ED cost me my marriage other factors to but I'm sure most men would give up after years of being married to a hyperactive, unfocussed, disorganised, distracted wife who is always in 5th gear but nothing ever gets done living in clutter almost to the point of hoarding. I know I am void of any intimate feelings and thrive on being left alone with my list of things to do which I can add to yesterdays things to do looking at it by the year 3013 I may just have completed it. If I'm not found on the move at all times I can be found what I refer to as a dog chasing its own tail the entire day always running around but 12 hours later I have completed about 20 different tasks each about 15% complete because I begin one thing another catches my attention and I think I'll just do this quickly then come back to this which never happens. I have been taking Ritalin for 6 months and initially it was my saviour the madness stopped, I don't remember that feeling ever before so I would say I had ADHD most of my life. Fast forward to today and for the last 6 weeks I have been ignoring the signs of ADHD I own up to the fact its back bigger then ever. I have an appointment with my psychiatrist soon and am hoping he can help me again. The only differing thing in my life in the last 2 months or so is the amount of stress from so many angles and the amount of pressure from people around me to help with this and that and the amount of tasks that must be completed by me within a strict time frame, through in a stroppy 15 year old daughter with who I share her care with my ex-husband and an ex-husband who is relentless in his pursuit to financially and emotionally cripple me using the kids making sure they know at any spare moment he has that I am mentally ill. I can only think that perhaps with all the stress at one time my brain has just ignored the Ritalin. So I wait for my appointment and hope this is just a hiccup because I'm not sure it is possible to feel any more helpless fighting to be 'NORMAL'. So yes I to am certain there is a direct connection between Anorexia and ADHD and have thought so for a while, it wasn't til I read your piece I made my mind up as previously I was trying to work out if my Anorexia bought forward my ADHD or the other way around but if you consider the energy and focus we put into avoiding food, social events and the obsessive need to be the very best at something that ADHD has as symptoms then it becomes clear as day lets hope someone of medical knowledge explores the theory because I know as I am quickly approaching 50y.o still suffering Anorexia and ADHD together for at least 9 years I am getting very tired and I'm pretty sure my body isn't going to take too much of the punishment its been getting, I have always hoped there is an answer and a cure for me I'm hoping sooner rather then later. This brings closure to my mini novel I am very sorry I just wanted for this to be brief but as per usual its not. I just couldn't believe your post because it was so relevant and on point to me here's hoping we get some research available on the subject as I would be very interested to hear on the subject.
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