JourneyPure Clarksville is building an eating disorders (ED) treatment program alongside its substance use disorder and mental health treatment offerings. While the program will not be military-specific, JouyrneyPure Clarksville works with many veterans and active military, two population groups that have seen significant increases in ED over the past few years.
Sierah Campbell, clinical director of JourneyPure Clarksville, says she is happy to serve military clients from nearby Fort Campbell, being the daughter of a US Army veteran.
“We’re in the process of building an ED program that we can bill for mental health treatment only,” Campbell said. “I do foresee changes in the clientele due to the program, which will include our providing different treatment modalities.”
The Link Between ED and the Military
A 2015 study, “Eating Disorders in Military and Veteran Men and Women,” suggests a high prevalence of EDs among military and veteran men and women, due partly to what it called “the unique features of military life,” including military sexual trauma, the strict weight and physical fitness requirements of military life, and combat exposure. The study further suggested that a history of trauma was common among military and ex-military diagnosed with ED.
In a Department of Veterans Affairs-funded report released in 2017, “Trauma and Exposure and Disordered Eating,” researchers suggested that disordered eating can provide short-term relief from the negative feelings or emotions related to trauma.
The median age of the study’s subjects was 48, suggesting that the negative feelings associated with trauma—panic, anxiety, fear—does not disappear over time.
“We found that the relationship between trauma exposure and disordered eating seemed to trap participants in a vicious cycle,” the study’s authors wrote. “For many women, the cycle began with a reminder of past trauma that triggered negative affect and maladaptive thoughts, which then led women to cope using disordered eating.”
It’s important to note that disordered eating is different from an eating disorder.Disordered eating is defined as the changing of eating patterns in response to stress, including using food to cope with stress or becoming interested in one’s diet to excess. Eating disorders, meanwhile, are formally recognized psychological disorders characterized by abnormal eating habits: anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and the like.
Paula Perez, outpatient operations manager at JourneyPure, said that the Clarksville IOP’s launch of an ED program is consistent with the company’s overall mission to address the needs of the communities it serves.
“Often, mental health symptoms expressed as depression, anxiety, and other common conditions become the underlying reason for unhealthy behaviors,” Perez said. “Within our programs, we identify and treat the mental health symptoms and provide multiple approaches to gain recovery.”