Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Studies have shown a strong association between Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and bulimia nervosa, as well as purging type anorexia nervosa. It has been hypothesized that eating disordered behaviors, particularly purging behaviors, serve to facilitate avoidance of traumatic material and to numb the hyperarousal and emotional pain associated with traumatic memories and thoughts. Purging may also promote forgetting parts or all of a traumatic event (ie, dissociative amnesia).

PTSD symptoms develop in response to experiencing, witnessing or being confronted with an event(s) that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others. The individuals response involves intense fear, helplessness or horror. The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced in one or more of the following ways:

  • recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections of the event, including images, thoughts, or perceptions,
  • recurrent distressing dreams of the event,
  • acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring  (i.e. sense of reliving the experience, illusions, hallucinations, dissociative flashbacks),
  • intense psychological distress when exposed to cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the event,
  • physiological reactivity on exposure to cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the event.


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