Orthorexia – The Not-So-Healthy Obsession with “Healthy” Eating

Orthorexia = Eating Disorder + OCD

Individuals suffering with Orthorexia exhibit symptoms
similar to those of OCD and Eating Disorders.

Orthorexia Nervosa (also simply known as Orthorexia) is a relatively new term within the psychological and medical fields. Simply defined, Orthorexia is an eating disorder in which an individual has an excessive and ultimately unhealthy obsession about maintaining a diet that is totally “healthy” and “pure”. Because of their extremely restrictive eating, individuals with Orthorexia are often severely underweight, and frequently lack the proper nourishment to perform basic daily activities. Like most cases involving an eating disorder, the outcome of Orthorexia can be severe malnutrition and a significant reduction of one’s quality of life.

Orthorexia has not yet been accepted as a formal diagnosis by the psychiatric community, and has not been defined within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV). However, since first being described by Dr. Steven Bratman in 1996, many health professionals have observed the often debilitating results of this condition. Read More »

    

“If I knew then what I know now.”

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’ve found yourself saying the same thing at some point in your adult life.  Nowhere is this more relevant than from the perspective of someone looking back on a childhood with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or an Obsessive Compulsive Spectrum Disorder.  When I meet a new client under 18, there is a powerful sense of traveling through time.  I think, “If only I had someone like me to go back and talk to me when I was someone like this.” How much time might I have saved being able to resist repetitive, unnecessary rituals?  How many more events, relationships, and simple moments of peace might I have been able to enjoy if only I had known what was really happening to me? Read More »

    

There have long been rumblings that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) was undertaking a thorough review of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV).  The ostensible goal of such a review would be to create a more accurate and in-depth edition of the DSM, which was last updated in 1994.

After ten years of ongoing debate, the numerous APA work groups investigating potential revisions to various diagnoses and categories to be included in a planned fifth edition have presented their suggestions to the APA.  Some of these changes are likely to be as controversial as current classifications in the DSM-IV, while others will pass barely noticed into the new DSM-5 (for example, the switch away from Roman numerals in the title).  A number of these proposed changes directly impact conditions treated here at the OCD Center of Los Angeles.  To wit: Read More »

    

People with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) who experience the pain and terror brought on by unwanted intrusive thoughts will use whatever means necessary to alleviate their discomfort. If they can’t make themselves feel sure about something internally, they reach out to the nearest person who they think can do it for them. If they are unavailable, the person with OCD will often reach out to the cold, unforgiving internet where the answers they hope not to find will always be waiting. Read More »

    

Lately, the OCD Center seems to be getting more and more calls from people suffering with Hypochondria, also known as Health Anxiety.  Many in the public, as well as many physicians, don’t take Hypochondria very seriously.  Their attitude is often that this is not a “real” problem, and that people with Health Anxiety are simply being neurotic or seeking attention.  Numerous physicians I have spoken to have complained that patients with Hypochondria use a dramatically disproportionate share of doctors’ limited time. Read More »

    

As summer ends, students return to school, and flu-season appears on the horizon, the drumbeat of panic about Swine flu is starting to increase again.  Yesterday (August 25, 2009), the CNN website had a headline that read: “Swine flu could cause up to 90,000 U.S. deaths”.  On the same day, the Los Angeles Times ran a story that reported that 20% to 40% of the US population could get Swine flu this year, and up to 2 million Americans could be hospitalized as a result. Read More »

    

Michael Jackson has died.  And predictably, reports of his various mental health issues have rapidly come to the fore.

Of course, anyone who has been paying attention knew that Jackson was troubled.  Over the past twenty-five years, his physical appearance radically changed.  The glaringly obvious alterations of his nose, chin, facial structure, and skin tone indicate that he had multiple cosmetic procedures, and suggest  that he suffered from a significant case of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)Read More »

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