Almost 30 million people in the U.S. suffer from an eating disorder such as binge eating, anorexia nervosa, or bulimia nervosa, according to ANAD (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders). Eating disorders are some of the most dangerous addiction issues that people face today.
People with these disorders develop an abnormal relationship with food, resulting in drastic and dangerous changes in not only their eating habits but their way of life in general. Fortunately, some innovative treatments are available—including hypnotherapy, which is steadily gaining some traction as an option.
How eating disorders affect Black Americans
Before treatment can be discussed, it’s important to understand who needs help. When eating disorders are highlighted by the media or elsewhere, the story being told is usually that of a young White woman. The implication is that Black men and women do not suffer from eating disorders, but nothing could be further from the truth.
This problem is exacerbated by a lack of research. Among existing studies, few look at how eating disorders affect the Black community. The data is poor, and the statistics for people of color do not reflect current reality.
Bias in the medical profession means that eating disorders among Black women are often overlooked and therefore not treated.
In a study using a fictional person with an eating disorder, it was found that medical professionals identified Black women with eating disorder behaviors only 17% of the time, compared to 44% and 41% of the time for Whites and Hispanics. Those who were identified were less likely to be offered professional help. Lack of recognition among the medical community then compromises general awareness, so it is important to know that anyone—not just those whose stories attract media attention—can have an eating disorder.
What is hypnotherapy and how can it help
For those suffering from eating disorders, hypnosis is a possible adjunct to other treatments. When combined with traditional therapy and counseling, and guided by a qualified therapist, hypnotherapy can uncover the various symptoms, thought patterns, and negative behaviors that lie at the foundation of eating disorders.
As a treatment modality, hypnotherapy combines hypnosis with the latest cognitive behavioral techniques to help transform the negative and anxious thought patterns and behaviors associated with eating disorders into positive ones. While its effectiveness in treating eating disorders is not scientifically established, positive outcomes from hypnotherapy have been reported.
Emotional and physical symptoms associated with eating disorders include severe weight loss or gain, feelings of hopelessness, and sleep disturbances. To effectively deal with both the immediate and long-term physical and mental effects of eating disorders, professional hypnotherapists conduct a thorough diagnosis and recommend the best treatment option. The fundamental goal is to help sufferers break away from the compulsive habits and behaviors that negatively impact their ability to make healthy decisions.
As with many treatment options, there are risks to hypnotherapy. By retrieving some deep-seeded thoughts and memories to find the source for the disorder, painful or intense memories may re-emerge. There is also a risk of creating false memories. Be prepared to confront those possibilities if you decide to use this method.
In addition to hypnotherapy, more established treatment options are also available, ranging from more intense treatments, like inpatient rehabilitation to attending support groups or seeing a dietician and mental health professional. Often, people combine several treatments to combat the multi-dimensional nature of eating disorders.
If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, contact a national organization for resources and support:
National Eating Disorders Association
For 24/7 crisis support, text NEDA to 741741.
ANAD (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders)
*Please note: soulWELL advises you to consult with your doctor concerning any treatment, dietary or supplement changes.