An eating disorder is a mental illness that continues to be a major issue for over 30 million people in America. An eating disorder is not caused by a lack of discipline when it comes to one’s intake of food or exercise, but it is an actual disease.
There are events, such as the National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (NEDAwareness), with the purpose of educating people on eating disorders and how they can be recognized in people, how to intervene, and how to access care for recovery. These types of events are very important to raise awareness for this illness so as to help people better recognize the symptoms and help their loved ones seek treatment.
Anorexia and bulimia are the most common forms of eating disorders and can be fatal. Eating disorders can be caused by a combination of issues such as low self-esteem, pressure to be thin, cultural norms of attractiveness, or using food to cope with negative issues in one’s life.
Eating disorders affect both men and women but are far more common with women between the ages of 12 and 25. Eating disorders are on a constant rise among children; they have raised by 119 percent and 80 percent of young girls state that they have been on a diet.
Unfortunately, once someone has an eating disorder, they tend to be more likely to develop other mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and drug/alcohol addiction. These mental illnesses can feed off of one another and cause people to go deep into their mental illness and make recovery extremely difficult.
There are some tremendously dangerous long-term effects of eating disorders. They can cause malnutrition, muscle atrophy, dry skin, dental problems, insomnia, ulcers, diabetes, anemia, infertility, liver and kidney failure, seizures, heart attack, and even death. Suicide is an extremely common result of people who suffered from eating disorders and depression.
Treatment for an eating disorder will involve a lot of therapy, whether it is individual or family therapy. Depending on the severity of the case, people may need medication and/or hospitalization. Most people who suffer from an eating disorder refuse to admit that they have the disorder and will refuse treatment. It is vital that family and friends support people with these disorders in order for them to have a successful treatment plan and recovery.
There is not a lot of health coverage for eating disorders, yet this is obviously a problem that continues to grow. Society and the culturally accepted norm of attractiveness is a major contributor to the development of eating disorders in people. Many people think that because a model or actress weighs 105 pounds that they are not beautiful unless they too are very thin; this is often where disturbing self-image issues arise and lead to fatal eating disorders.
It is imperative that we be aware of the signs and symptoms of eating disorders and ensure that our children build confidence in themselves so as to avoid these disorders and have the treatment they need should they ever develop this mental illness.