Eating disorders are silent but deadly killers. These conditions affect approximately 75 million people nationwide, with 90% being women. Studies show that eating disorders stem primarily from low self-esteem, depression, poor self-image and lack of self-control. The presence of an eating disorder could also be indicative of an unresolved trauma that the disorder is helping to manage. In some cases, the eating disorder is a way of dealing with an undiagnosed mental problem. Many feminists have argued that models in magazines and the pressure to be thin and perfect also contribute greatly to the cause of eating disorders in women.
The scale can tip both ways when it comes to eating. For instance, some may eat too little while others consume too much. Either way it represents an imbalance when it comes to food. The insidious nature of this disease can lead people to believe that the person is eating normally. However, behind closed doors they force their bodies to get rid of the ingested food. Whether you lean on the side of eating too much too little or giving the false impression of normalcy, an unhealthy preoccupation with food is an eating disorder that can lead to the development of serious health issues and even death.
Signs of an eating disorder may include:
Binge Eating is the most common eating order. Body weight ranges from normal to obese. Binge eaters tend to eat anytime whether alone or with others. They never seem to be satisfied and often continue to eat long after they are full. This is a serious eating disorder that can lead to obesity and problems with diabetes. Most binge eaters use this process to cope with emotional pain, conflicts related to separation, low self-esteem, depression, stress or trauma.
Anorexia Nervosa is fueled by a desperate need to be thin. This condition lead sufferers to starve themselves or eat just enough to sustain their life. No matter how emaciated a person with this disease becomes, they hold to the belief that they are overweight. This false belief drives the starvation behavior. Anorexia nervosa also has the highest mortality rate. Characteristics of this disease includes an unnatural obsession or fear of gaining weight, an emaciated appearance and denial that they have a problem with food. The negative effects of this eating disorder includes anemia, thinning bones, muscle degeneration, brittle hair and nails, constipation and low blood pressure. Death typically occur because of multi-organ failure.
Bulimia Nervosa is binge eating followed by some form of purging. Elimination may include using laxatives, diuretics, forced vomiting, obsessive exercising or fasting. The negative effects of this condition includes dehydration, digestive discomfort, bleeding ulcers, tooth decay and heart attacks.
According to the National Institute on Mental Health, eating disorders are defined as a psychological illness that habitually disrupt normal eating patterns. This is a quiet disease that keep people suffering in silence until they become too ill to disguise it any longer. The National Association of Anorexia Disorder and Associated Disorders (ANAD) note that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
Most individuals with eating disorder do not seek treatment because of the poor self-image and self-worth associated with it. Studies show that as much as 75% of people with eating disorders do not seek or receive treatment for this condition.
If you or a loved one is suffering with an eating disorder, there is help available right now.