“Cheers to this year being the best year ever. 2014 gon be the year of truth and freedom,” tweeted Ke$ha, the 26-year-old singer with the current hit single Timber, on New Year’s Day. Only a few days later, she entered the Timberline Knolls treatment center in Chicago for help with an eating disorder, announcing on Facebook to fans that: “I’m a crusader for being yourself and loving yourself but I’ve found it hard to practice. I’ll be unavailable for the next 30 days, seeking treatment for my eating disorder…to learn to love myself again. Exactly as I am.”
Rumors blame her eating disorder on her overbearing music producer, Dr. Luke. According to TMZ, Dr. Luke has been telling Ke$ha that she is overweight since 2011 and criticized her appearance in a 2012 music video, comparing her size to that of a refrigerator. Although no one person can cause an eating disorder, these types of comments contribute to the development of a disorder in those at risk.
Unfortunately, fat shaming and similar behavior is all too common and contributes to eating disorders among celebrities and non-celebrities alike. Celebrities like Ke$ha are a vulnerable population because they have to live with significant pressure to maintain a particular body shape and size, one that often is below a healthy weight, and many turn to an eating disorder as a way to achieve it.
The Pressure to be Thin
It is not just celebrities that feel the pressure to be thin. The images of these super thin celebrities and models facilitate a similar pressure for the general public to lose weight and attain an unhealthy size. The combination of societal pressure to be thin and a looming obesity crisis leads more and more Americans to diet. Almost 35 percent of normal dieters will move on to an unhealthy relationship with food, and of those 20 to 25 percent will develop some level of eating disorder.
Around 24 million Americans have an eating disorder, and that number may be even higher since many people with an eating disorder live in denial and hide it from even those closest to them. Additionally, only about 1 in 10 people with an eating disorder seek treatment.
The Importance of Treatment for Eating Disorders
It is vital for a person with an eating disorder to seek proper treatment, as Ke$ha is currently doing, because eating disorders have the highest mortality rate for any mental health disorder. About 20 percent of those with a serious eating disorder that do not seek treatment will die, but with treatment, the mortality rate drops to only 2 to 3 percent. Only 35 percent of people seeking treatment do so at a specialized facility, even though the best treatment will be at such a facility.
A combination of genetic, biological, environmental, emotional, and societal and peer pressures lead to a person developing an eating disorder. The underlying issues that trigger the eating disorder must be properly addressed in order to reduce the risk of relapse. Learning to love oneself is an important element of treatment, one that Ke$ha hit on the nose with her Facebook post.
Substance Abuse and Eating Disorders
Other rumors, fueled by an article in Radar, reveal that Ke$ha will also receive treatment for her drinking problems. In interviews, she has been very open about her partying lifestyle and heavy drinking. Her time at Timberline Knolls might just be the perfect opportunity to address her substance abuse in addition to her eating disorder.
Substance abuse or addiction and eating disorders commonly co-occur in a person. Around 72 percent of female alcoholics under the age of 30 have an eating disorder of some type. In order to reduce the risk of relapse, a person must receive help for all co-occurring conditions, especially if there is an underlying issue that is fueling both the drinking and the eating disorder.
Recognizing an Eating Disorder
According to Hollywood Life, Ke$ha’s friends played an important role in recognizing the disorder and encouraging her to get help. Reportedly, they did not recognize the disorder at first but eventually noticed the unhealthy behavioral patterns. Ke$ha’s friends are not alone in having difficulty spotting an eating disorder, even in those closest to them. People with eating disorders learn coping skills that make it difficult for those closest to them to identify the problem until it has become serious.
There are several different eating disorders, each with their own signs and symptoms. However, the main red flag of an eating disorder is an unhealthy relationship with food, either too much or too little, that disturbs one’s daily life, work, and relationships. Often, negative emotions such as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem play significant roles in the development of the disorder.
Hope In Treatment
Although it is difficult to know how much of Ke$ha’s problem is hearsay and rumor, she does have an eating disorder and is getting help. As Ke$ha goes through treatment for her eating disorder, she will hopefully find ways to be more honest with herself and break free of the problems triggering the eating disorder. She is an advocate for loving yourself, and she has decided it is time for her to live that message herself. For many people with an eating disorder, this is difficult because the disorder is closely tied into a person’s self-esteem and emotional health. That is why finding the right treatment is so important.
Sovereign Health Group hopes that Ke$ha and others with an eating disorder find the help they need for a happy and healthy 2014. At Sovereign Health, we offer state-of-the-art, evidence based treatment for eating disorders that combines experiential and expressive treatment modalities.
Our program utilizes individual and group psychotherapy and complementary alternative therapies such as yoga, meditation, nutritional education, equine therapy, art therapy, music therapy, and exercise programs. We create customized programs to treat each patient holistically and address all underlying and co-occurring conditions.
Blog post by: Marissa Maldonado
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