Eating disorders affect more people than you might think. Anorexia and bulimia are serious mental illnesses that are more prevalent than many people realize. They’re also very difficult to treat.
If you or a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder, you’ve come to the right place. Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that can cause a person to lose a significant amount of weight, or not eat at all.
Even though they are more common than you might think, many people still don’t know how to identify them. Eating disorders are also highly treatable. In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about eating disorders, including their symptoms, types, and risk factors.
An eating disorder is a serious mental disorder characterized by distorted thoughts and behaviors related to food and eating. Eating disorders often result in anorexia, bulimia, or both.
People with eating disorders often think about food all day long. They usually feel a powerful urge to eat, but they also often have a strong desire to lose weight.
They may go on complete or partial fasts to reduce their caloric intake. They may also exercise very hard in an attempt to burn off calories or purge the calories they did eat.
When someone has an eating disorder, he or she may be in denial about the problem. Some people with eating disorders also engage in behaviors that are harmful to their health, such as smoking, drinking, drug use, or unsafe sex.
Anorexia nervosa is a serious eating disorder characterized by a fear of gaining weight. The patient often intends to lose weight and may make frequent visits to the doctor to assure that he or she is losing weight.
Anorexics often have a distorted body image and low self-esteem. They often believe that they are fat even though they are very thin. The disorder usually begins in adolescence, often during the middle or High School years.
Bulimia is a type of eating disorder characterized by a binge followed by a period of extreme hunger. The individual then goes on a “binge-free” diet to compensate for the calories consumed during the binge.
Binge Eating Disorder
BED is a recent addition to the DSM-V and is characterized by an eating episode followed by a feeling of shame and extreme guilt. The person experiencing BED often feels a sense of relief after the binge and is not usually overweight. BED usually begins in late adolescence or early adulthood.
The following are symptoms of an eating disorder that may indicate that you or a loved one should be evaluated for the disorder. Pay particular attention to any of the following that applies to you or a loved one.
- Excessive exercise is undertaken to the point of damaging your health.
- Deteriorating physical appearance, and/or mental health, such as poor self-esteem and/or depression.
- Eating very little, or fasting, for prolonged periods of time.
- Puerperal (or “baby”) phase: The puerperal phase is the time between giving birth and becoming pregnant again (also known as the lactational phase). During this time, some women (but not all) experience a dramatic drop in body weight. The puerperal phase is often the main cause of anorexia nervosa, but it can also be a symptom of an eating disorder.
If you or a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder, it’s important to find a treatment facility that can help. Ideally, the facility you choose should be able to treat eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder.
Here are some things to consider when choosing an eating disorder facility:
The best eating disorder facilities have three key things in common: A multidisciplinary team of clinicians, a close relationship with registered dietitians (RDs), and a focus on long-term recovery. While these professionals may not be working with you directly at first, it’s important to know that they are there to help you when needed.
Residential treatment centers can range in levels of services offered, from partial hospitalization programs (PHP), intensive outpatient programs (IOP), day treatment, or full residential treatment. The most important thing is to choose the right level of care for your needs. A fully-licensed residential facility should be able to accommodate your needs as you move through various levels of care to maintain stability in your life.
Cost is a major concern for many families, and it can be expensive to pay out-of-pocket for care. Not all insurance companies will cover the cost of treatment, so make sure to check with your insurance company before you begin treatment. If you are uninsured or underinsured, look into grants and scholarships that may help you pay for treatment.
It may be difficult to travel long distances away from home for treatment. Make sure that if you do choose an inpatient facility far away, it is easily accessible by air or train so that you can visit regularly if possible. Also, consider the location of the nearest eating disorder support group so that you can connect with others in recovery once you are discharged.
Eating disorders are complex psychological illnesses that require evidence-based treatments for a full recovery.
Accommodations for your specific needs, such as diet restrictions that you may have, or if you have a disability.
If the facility is a hospital, make sure that you are able to eat in the hospital and that the hospital staff understands your eating disorder.
If you suspect that someone you love has an eating disorder, there are several things you can do.
- You can encourage the person to seek help by explaining the nature of the disorder, what it can cause, and how it might affect their daily life.
- You can also help them find a treatment facility.
- You can also get involved in a support group for loved ones of people with eating disorders. There are many online communities and social clubs for loved ones of people who have eating disorders.
Don’t let an eating disorder get a foothold in your life. In this guide, you learned everything you need to know about eating disorders.
Now it’s over to you to take action and get help before it’s too late. Eating disorders are treatable, and there are many treatment options available. Don’t let an eating disorder get the better of you.