Yesterday I had one of those moments of clarity that, interestingly enough, came while reading about memory loss. My mind has been Swiss cheese lately so the topic of memory drew me in to this piece on differentiating age-related memory loss from Alzheimer's.
It struck me that this is exactly analogous to my issues with conflating disordered eating with Eating Disorders. By putting both DE and ED in the same basket and then just stringing it along a spectrum we lose sight of what I believe to be true: that we are looking at different things altogether.
Memory issues can be caused by age-related decline, brain damage, Alzheimer's, and other dementias. Understanding ANY of those issues means parsing them out. Treatments would not be expected to be the same, and part of the diagnostic process has to include parsing them.
Same with eating disorders. Although individual PEOPLE may present symptoms along a spectrum of disordered eating we should not assume that all of those people have eating disorders, nor would all people with eating disorders present with certain levels of disordered eating.
Figuring out which patients have age-related memory issues and Alzheimer's offers great hope for treating both - appropriately. We are going to need to do the same thing with eating disorders.
Language, and diagnosis, matter.