An estimated eight million Americans suffer from an eating disorder.
Eating disorders include:
Eating disorders are commonly thought of as usually happening to teenage and college-aged white girls, but the reality is that they happen to people of all ages, ethnicities, nationalities, religions, gender, and socio-economic backgrounds.
The average age of people who develop an eating disorder has gotten younger, with even children presenting with eating disorder thoughts and behaviors.
Eating Disorders Aren’t Really About Food
Eating disorders are not really about the food but rather the underlying psychological issues such as low self-esteem. Co-occurring conditions can occur, such as depression disorder, anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and others.
It’s important to look past the stereotypes of eating disorders and get help for yourself or a loved one as soon as possible. The death rate for those with an eating disorder is higher than any other psychological illness. It takes a knowledgeable physician or therapist to diagnose an eating disorder and help the patient put together a plan for recovery.
Symptoms of Eating Disorders
Common symptoms to look for in someone you suspect may have an eating disorder can include the following:
- Eating an excessive amount of food in a short time
- Reduction in food intake or skipping meals
- Finding hidden supplies of binge foods or empty food wrappers
- Change in weight
- Use of laxatives, diet pills or other weight loss products
- Exercising in a compulsive manner
- Lack of energy
- Obsessed with food and weight
- Withdrawing from social life
- Poor body image
- Participation in “thinspiration” websites (sites dedicated to having and hiding an eating disorder)
Health Effects of Eating Disorders
The following are among the many dangerous physical symptoms that can result from having an eating disorder:
- High or low blood pressure
- Disrupted menstrual cycle
- Thinning hair
- Heart attack
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Dental damage
- High cholesterol
- Digestive problems
Treatment for Eating Disorders
Treatment for eating disorders can include many approaches, the most commonly needed one being therapy.
When the sufferer deals with the psychological issues behind the eating disorder, they begin to climb their way out of the hole they are in and put together a new life. Therapy, nutritional counseling and other approaches commonly help a person begin to look past the obsession with food and weight and start to heal both their mind and body. Recovery time can be lengthy but full recovery is achievable.
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