Eating Disorders: Overview, Symptoms, and Getting Help
Eating disorders are one of the most lethal mental illnesses. According to the South Carolina Department of Mental Health, an estimated 8 million Americans have an eating disorder. Because of the stigma surrounding eating disorders, studies show that only 1 in 10 people ever seek treatment. The mortality rate for eating disorders is at an all-time high. Seeking treatment for eating disorders is crucial. Inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation programs are treatment options with high success rates for those suffering from eating disorders. People with eating disorders often lack hope, but recovery is possible.
Types of Eating Disorders
Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorders are among the most commonly recognized types of eating disorders.
People with anorexia nervosa typically restrict food, exercise excessively, and may take laxatives to lose weight.
People who suffer from bulimia nervosa tend to have episodes where they binge eat, followed by behavior that atones the amount of food consumed (purging, fasting, excessive exercise, etc.).
Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in America. People who binge eat have a lack of control over the food they consume.
Eating disorders may be related to obsessive-compulsive disorder, defined as repetitive thoughts that lead to compulsive behaviors. If suffering from an eating disorder, consider treatment options like inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation programs. Your doctor may recommend a treatment and therapy plan to facilitate eating disorder recovery.
Symptoms of Eating Disorders
- Restricting food intake
- Eating large amounts of food in a specified period
- Forced vomiting after consuming food
- Brittle hair and nails
- Growth of lanugo
- Irregular menstruation
- Low blood pressure
- Severe dehydration
- Feeling tired constantly
- Bruising easily
- Weight gain
- Unhealthy eating habits
- Distorted body image (body dysmorphia)
- Fear of gaining weight
Getting Help for Eating Disorders
Treatment for eating disorders is specific to each individual, but it is vital to seek treatment no matter the eating disorder you or a loved one struggle with. Some options include inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient therapy, behavioral therapy, nutritional counseling, medications, inpatient rehab at a treatment center, etc. Because of the stigma surrounding eating disorders, only one in 10 people receive treatment. If you are showing any signs of an eating disorder, don’t suffer in silence. Consult with a mental health professional, and see if a rehabilitation program is the best course of action. Reaching out is the hardest part, but it is the first step to developing a healthy relationship with food. Recovery is possible. Reach out, and end the stigma.