Massage and Eating Disorder Treatment
Pairing an eating disorder treatment with massage can help increase the success rate of the treatment. Massage therapy can benefit people with anorexia and bulimia by helping them develop a more positive body image.
Anorexia and bulimia are the most common eating disorders. Combined they affect 5 to 7 percent of the female population in the United States. While these disorders aren't as common in the male population, we've seen the incidents of them increasing in recent years.
Bulimia is when someone binges or eats a lot of food and then purges by throwing up, taking laxatives or over exercising. Bulimic episodes are often triggered by emotional upsets. The person eats lots of food then feels guilty and ashamed so they purge.
People with this condition describe feeling high or numb or completely out of control.
Bulimia can cause liver, kidney and bowel damage. It can also cause discoloration and decay of teeth and heart damage, even a heart attack.
There are two types of anorexia. Restriction anorexia is what most people think of when they think of this disorder. People with restriction anorexia restrict their calorie intake to loose weight. Even though the person is underweight she always thinks of herself as fat and wants to loose more and more. She has a distorted view of her body and doesn't recognize that she is underweight.
The other type of anorexia is binge/purge anorexia. Binge/purge is just what you think it is. It's when the person eats tons of food and then throws up, takes laxatives or over exercises to make up for eating so much. The primary difference between binge/purge anorexia and bulimia is weight and the reason for binging and purging.
The death rate for anorexia is between 6 and 10 percent. Denying your body the nutrition it needs can cause bone loss and even cardiac arrest.
I had a friend in college who was anorexic for years. She was bone thin. She had a heart attack as a teenager because of the damage the disease did to her heart.
Massage therapy can be used in conjunction with another eating disorder treatment to help the sufferer regain a healthy body image.
A study done by the University of Michigan in 1995 showed a connection between eating disorders and touch deprivation. In a survey of 176 shoppers they found a correlation between not being touched enough and the need to be thin. The amount of physical contact a child gets when developing determines a lot about the childs body image as she grows up.
The Touch Institute of Miami has done studies on people with anorexia and bulimia. In both studies they found that massage when coupled with standard eating disorder treatments help lower anxiety levels. Sufferers who received massage had more dopamine levels. Increasing emotional health helps speed the recovery process. While these findings show that massage can help the person remain general emotional health, massage is not linked to weight gain.
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