Social isolation and social phobia are symptoms of anorexia, general eating disorders, and Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). The psychological effects of eating disorders on relationships are profound. Both bulimia and anorexia have especially serious impacts on social and familial relationships.
Being socially isolated from friends and peers can be the result of a poor body image, a sense of inferiority or an attempt to keep feelings of hurt and anger buried.
People with anorexia and other eating disorders often have a strong desire to be accepted and liked by everyone.
If they're confronted about their feelings of fear or rage, it causes a great deal of inner turmoil.
The anorexic may lie about how they feel because they will do almost anything to maintain approval and acceptance, and don't want to rock the boat.
In fact, eating disorders statistics show that people with eating disorders generally see no place for emotions such as fear, betrayal or rage in interpersonal relationships.
The intense fear of being ridiculed or put down for being assertive will usually cause an anorexic or bulimic to behave in compassionate and supportive ways even with those who have hurt them deeply.
Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) can take many forms, including that of social isolation. These issues are very closely entwined when it comes to anorexia and other eating disorders.
As someone becomes more ill, social phobia and withdrawal from friends will likely happen more frequently. Since isolation is also one of the depression warning signs, it becomes impossible to see where one issue ends and the other begins.
In fact, everything is happening at this same time, which also adds to the individual's frustration and confusion.
Nevertheless, patients will begin to eat alone more often, and will excuse themselves from activities that they probably once enjoyed - even family outings. Young people may spend a lot of alone-time in their room in order to avoid contact.
Social events that involve food (and most of them do) are particularly anxiety-provoking. This includes dining at restaurants, parties and dinner invitations.
Disordered eaters become pros at making excuses to avoid conformations about their eating habits. They become adept at hiding anorexia.
For the most part, anorexics are very self-conscious individuals, and this can lead to social isolation. Their distorted body image and impaired cognitive functions lead them to feel ashamed and embarrassed about the very sight of themselves.
In today's society, people are usually praised when they're successful at weight loss. In the early stages of anorexia, this is true as well. However, that initial attention they received for having lost weight may now be very threatening, especially if they're in an emaciated state.
Friends and family often become frightened and aren't sure how to react. Feelings of being avoided, unwanted stares and comments about weight (whether positive or not), only serve to exacerbate this self-consciousness, which leads to further social phobia, fear and isolation.
Anorexia sufferers are often desperate for support - someone to show compassion and at least try to comprehend the inner torture that they endure day in and day out.
But just the opposite is true. For those who isolate, there is no means of support of comfort because they are so disconnected.
Social-emotional connections are essential for our overall health and sense of well being. These interactions can even help to build and promote self esteem and give us a reason to live. Please speak to your doctor if you think you may be experiencing social phobia.
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