Veterans’ eating disorders are associated with exposure to trauma and pressure to meet military weight and fitness requirements, said Dr. Sara Rubin, a psychiatrist who heads the Eating Disorders Program at VA Connecticut Healthcare. Also, women who have been sexually assaulted in the military are disposed to eating disorders, she said.
According to Robin M. Masheb, a Yale Medical School psychologist and researcher for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), “so many veterans seem to struggle with their eating and body image, but go unrecognized.”
A study of post 9/11 veterans found that bulimia, binge eating, and atypical anorexia nervosa (AAN) were associated with depression, anxiety, PTSD, insomnia, and a lower quality of life. AAN has symptoms of anorexia, including starvation and extreme fear of weight gain, but without dangerous low weight. The study led by Masheb of more than 1,100 veterans was the first to examine AAN in veterans. It found that 14% of women and 5% of men had probable AAN, “a clinically significant eating and mental health disorder.” The study also showed 6% of the women and 3% of the men had bulimia (binging and purging), three times the civilian rate.
Eating disorders can also result in death. A study by Deloitte Access Economics found that 10,200 people die each year because of an eating disorder. Anorexia nervosa has the second-highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder after opioid use disorder, and one in five deaths among people with anorexia is a suicide, according to the National Eating Disorders Association.
Read more at CTMirror.org.