Eating Disorder Overview

“If we are ready to tear down the walls that confine us, break the cage that imprisons us, we will discover what our wings are for.” -Michael Meegan

An eating disorder (ED) can be categorized as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or a combination of three. Though these disorders have obvious physical effects, their root is deeply psychological as they often coexist with depression, anxiety, or substance abuse. It is important to understand that eating disorders are legitimate and treatable medical illnesses that are not to be taken lightly. The symptoms can quickly become life threatening if left untreated. Studies show anorexia is associated with the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder.

Though eating disorders affect both men and women, women are two and a half times more likely to develop an ED than men. They more often appear during the teenage or adolescent years, but are not uncommon during childhood or adulthood.

Those struggling with anorexia nervosa perceive themselves as overweight when they are in fact underweight. They obsessively weigh themselves, severely limit food intake and portion size, and exercise excessively. Symptoms of anorexia include:

  • Extremely low body weight
  • Food restriction
  • Overwhelming fear of gaining weight
  • Lack of menstruation among women
  • Brittle hair and nails
  • Infertility
  • Lethargy, sluggishness, weakness

For those dealing with bulimia nervosa, they often maintain a normal weight or are slightly overweight. However, they have recurrent and frequent episodes of eating large amounts of food and then purging or using laxatives or diuretics. Like those struggling with anorexia, they are incredibly dissatisfied with their weight and often feel shame because of this binging and purging cycle. Symptoms of bulimia include:

  • Chronically inflamed or sore throat
  • Worn tooth enamel due to excessive exposure to stomach acid
  • Dehydration from use of laxatives
  • Acid reflux disorder or other gastrointestinal problems

Finally, people who struggle with binge eating are similar to those exhibiting bulimic behavior except they do not purge, fast, or use laxatives. These individuals are often overweight or obese and are at risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease. Like others struggling with an ED, they experience a lot of guilt and shame, and often feel out of control.

If you or a loved one is struggling with an ED, call our office today at (888) 507-1355 to receive more information about treatment centers and rehabilitation options. Eating disorders are a treatable illness, and complete recovery is possible. Take a giant step towards your rehabilitation, learn to love yourself, and call us today!

 

Reference: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/eating-disorders-new-trifold/index.shtml