Are Eating Disorders and Self Harm Connected?

Woman in distress

For many people, eating disorders and cutting go hand in hand. Behavioral health experts often warn of the co-occurrence of eating disorders and cutting for their patients.

Whether you’re experiencing this yourself or you’re a concerned parent or friend, understanding the connection between eating disorders and cutting will help you be on the lookout for the telltale signs.

What Are Co-occurring Disorders?

Co-occurring disorders are when a person simultaneously experiences more than one disorder, such as an eating disorder and self harm, depression and a substance use disorder or any other combination. Many people believe that co-occurring disorders happen only in tandem with addiction, but many combinations are possible.

Co-occurring disorders are fairly common, and the connection between eating disorders and cutting is just one example.

Signs of Eating Disorders and Cutting

If you are worried about the well-being of someone in your life, look out not just for signs of a specific eating disorder, such as anorexia or bulimia, but for signs of self-harm as well. Any unexplained injury could be cause for concern, as could unusual weight loss.

By understanding the connection between eating disorders and cutting, parents and loved ones can be proactive in their approach to the situation. Not every instance of weight loss is proof of an eating disorder, and not every scar is a sign of cutting. Even so, parents should be on the lookout, especially during the difficult teenage years.

The Connection Between Eating Disorders and Cutting

At first glance, eating disorders and cutting may appear to be very different issues, but they can be manifestations of the same underlying insecurities. It is instructive that both eating disorders and cutting behaviors often begin in adolescence, when young people are particularly insecure about their bodies, their relationships and their futures.

The connection between eating disorders and cutting is also demonstrated in strong gender differences in prevalence. While young men can be and are impacted by these issues, both eating disorders and cutting are seen predominantly in young women. Simply being female appears to place young people at greater risk for both eating disorders and cutting, and parents should be aware of this connection.

If you are worried that a young person in your life may have an eating disorder, it is important to get them help as quickly as possible. The sooner professional help is sought, the sooner healing can begin.