Food addiction has increasingly caught the attention of medical practitioners; however, no formal diagnosis exists as yet. People may still experience similar brain reward pathways as those addicted to drugs or gambling.
As with drug addiction, food addiction involves compulsively overeating in spite of negative consequences such as weight gain and digestive issues, unhealthy habits that contribute to high blood pressure or heart disease.
Table of Contents
Food addiction may seem like an overstatement, but it is nonetheless essential to recognize that people can develop chemical dependence on certain foods – particularly junk foods which trigger similar reward pathways in the brain as addictive drugs do. Some even become hooked so strongly they experience physical withdrawal symptoms when they stop eating them altogether.
As with drug addiction, food addiction can create both psychological and physical issues for its victims. Someone addicted to junk foods might eat excessive quantities regardless of knowing that this will lead to weight gain or other health concerns; they might also ignore any social repercussions resulting from their addiction to junk food.
Junk food and other high-fat and sugar foods stimulate the reward centers of the brain in much the same way that addictive drugs do, leading to cravings that can be hard to resist. Furthermore, frequent intake of junk foods may result in tolerance being built up over time so that more of it must be eaten to get the same reward level.
Researchers have noted a strong resemblance between food and drug addiction: when cravings arise, both can prompt us to search out their respective substances or food items. Indeed, brain scans show the same areas being activated when craving junk food or illegal substances.
Though food addiction may be treated by simply avoiding trigger foods, in some instances professional assistance might be required for effective recovery. Psychologists and psychiatrists can provide treatments for binge eating disorder. Furthermore, organizations like Overeaters Anonymous may offer support and advice. Food addiction is currently recognized by psychologists and psychiatrists as a feeding and eating disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the book used by these professionals to define mental illnesses. People struggling with food addiction frequently attend detox, rehab, and recovery programs multiple times due to an increased relapse rate when compared with drug addiction.
Serotonin is an endogenous chemical produced by the brain that serves as a neurotransmitter, transmitting messages between nerve cells. Serotonin has many functions in our bodies including mood regulation, digestion, sleep aided blood clotting and sexual desire – however too much serotonin may be harmful and should be limited accordingly. Serotonin Syndrome, caused by too much serotonin being produced by drugs, is a potentially lethal condition and must be managed accordingly. Serotonin Syndrome may result from taking multiple serotonergic antidepressants together; drug interactions between serotonergic medications and other medicines or illicit substances that alter serotonin levels; accidental or intentional overdose of serotonergic medication. Family physicians play an integral part in diagnosing and treating those living with Serotonin Syndrome.
Serotonin syndrome symptoms may include shivering, muscle cramps, dry skin patches, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and fever. Severe cases of serotonin toxicity require hospitalization and may lead to coma; milder forms are more difficult to identify due to symptoms that resemble other medical conditions; thus a doctor must ask about your medical history and conduct a physical exam prior to making a diagnosis and order laboratory tests to rule out other possible causes.
Doctors can treat serotonin toxicity by discontinuing any medication that is contributing to it, providing fluids intravenously to prevent dehydration, treating complications like heat stroke or low heart rate and prescribing drugs that reduce serotonin production in the brain.
There are medications designed to boost serotonin production in the body, but these tend to be used primarily as treatments for depression. Serotonin syndrome is typically the result of interactions between selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and other medications that impact serotonin production and release, such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. Certain over-the-counter medications like cyproheptadine (Periactin) and meperidine (Demerol, a painkiller) may contribute to serotonin syndrome when combined with selective serotonergic reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or other serotonergic drugs, while dietary supplements and illegal drugs like LSD, amphetamines, or cocaine may increase serotonin levels further and trigger serotonin syndrome symptoms.
Opioids are drugs that produce morphine-like effects when they bind to opioid receptors found throughout the brain, spinal cord, and gastrointestinal tract. Their primary use is for pain reduction from surgeries, cancer treatments, injuries or cough suppression; they may also reduce coughs and diarrhea in some instances. Unfortunately, opioids can be dangerous when taken in high quantities or mixed with depressant substances like alcohol or benzodiazepines; breathing can slow significantly and coma or death could result.
Opioids during pregnancy put your unborn baby at risk, including early labor or difficulty breathing at birth. Furthermore, neonatal abstinence syndrome – when withdrawal occurs while still gestating – should also be taken into consideration. If you take opioids during gestation, be sure to inform both yourself and your healthcare provider.
Food addiction is an eating disorder with similarities to substance use disorders and impulsive personality traits, including changes to the mesolimbic dopamine system and shifting from reward-driven eating behaviors towards compulsive ones, often associated with food. Food addiction can manifest as obsession with food, difficulty controlling behaviors and secretive or hiding eating behavior – which may make it impossible to stop. Although separate from obesity, this eating disorder often overlaps.
According to one study, 88% of those meeting the criteria for food addiction were obese. Furthermore, food addiction can often serve as the precursor for other eating disorders, such as binge eating disorder. Furthermore, co-occurring mental health conditions like depression or anxiety may be present as well.
Food addiction can be a complex challenge to deal with and treatment options can vary. Some individuals benefit from behavioral therapies and medication while for others a combination may work better. As well as professional assistance, eating healthily and exercising regularly are also crucial components to long-term wellbeing. Avoid foods that trigger cravings and impulsive behavior, like processed or fast food. If you have a history of depression or other mental health conditions, it’s especially important to speak to your physician prior to beginning any new medications. Doing this includes both prescribed and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements. Utilizing one pharmacy for all your medication will help avoid potential drug interactions; be sure to ask the pharmacist for a list of all of the ingredients present in each of your medications.
Modern medicine strives to develop medications that directly address food addiction. One method of accomplishing this goal is through cannabinoid drugs, which target certain parts of the brain that regulate appetite and nausea. People suffering from various illnesses use cannabinoids for weight gain as well as to fight nausea or vomiting symptoms; other medical uses include fighting insomnia. Cannabis has long been used medicinally across America – however some misuse it for non-medical use, leading them down a path of abuse and addiction.
The cannabinoid system consists of receptors and natural substances that bind with them. These receptors can be found throughout the brain as well as peripheral tissues like gut and kidneys; together these receptors make up part of our endocannabinoid system, which regulates various functions including eating and mood regulation.
Cannabinoids have been shown to interact with receptors on cells. THC is the most psychoactive cannabinoid while others like CBD, CBG and CBC may have less psychoactivity. Cannabinoids may interact with each other and produce various effects; altering perception of time and space perception as well as memory, cognition, appetite regulation and changes.
In 2008, synthetic cannabinoids began appearing in herbal smoking mixtures known as “Spice,” often sold over the Internet or head shops. These products typically consist of dried plant material into which one or more cannabinoids had been added and which was sprayed with an aromatic solution containing these chemicals rather than simply listing their names like any traditional product might do; some common examples are naphthoylindoles (JWH-018, JWH-073, and related compounds), phenylacetylindoles (CP 47 497), and cyclohexylphenols (HU-210 and its related compounds).
These products are illegal to sell, possess and distribute in many countries and may also be unsafe to consume, leading to adverse side effects like high blood pressure, heart palpitations and dilated pupils. Furthermore, their use can alter mental functioning such as altering thought processes, confusion and paranoia; furthermore in some instances these products can even contribute to eating disorders.