Shining a light on…
Having first hand experience in working with those in recovery and treatment. I am inspired by the continued encouragement organizations like Recovery Pride are offering. I am also inspired by those who choose to take the steps necessary to return to a state of balance and well being.
A recent article written by Michelle Peterson
The Severity of Eating Disorders: Why Treatment is Necessary
There are several kinds of eating disorders, some more dangerous than others. They can affect anyone regardless of ethnicity, gender, or social class. While women are more predisposed to eating disorders, they continue to affect approximately 10 million men in the U.S. each year. Treatment is absolutely essential for someone who has an eating disorder and if you suspect someone you know has an eating disorder, seek help immediately. Here are some of the effects common eating disorders can have on an individual.
Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating is far less recognized as an eating disorder than the more commonly known bulimia and anorexia. However, binge eating is the result of mental illness, just as any eating disorder is. People who suffer from binge eating tend to suffer from depression, anxiety, guilt, shame. When binge eating disorder goes unchecked, the co-occurring disorders will increase in severity, the bingeing will increase, and the person can slowly begin to lose control of their life and eating habits.
Anorexia is likely the most common disorder known to the public. It is characterized by unhealthy weight loss and calorie restriction. It can begin as “dieting” but rapidly overtakes the life of the sufferer. Anorexia is associated with severe psychological symptoms including distorted self-perception as well as very serious physical effects.
Anorexia is the deadliest psychiatric disorder, killing roughly 4% of sufferers. Some of the immediate effects of the illness include rapid weight loss, dry skin, and damaged hair. Long term effects are far more difficult to reverse. People who go untreated for this disorder will experience effects such as bone damage, infertility, an actual decrease in brain size, heart disease, and muscular deterioration.
If someone you know is displaying signs of anorexia, do not wait to seek help. The damage that is done by long-term starvation is difficult and sometimes impossible to reverse. Immediate treatment is the only way to halt the disease’s progress.
Bulimia is a form of self-starvation in which the person purges whatever food they consume. This allows them to enjoy food yet avoid weight gain. In some cases, the disorder is accompanied by binge eating. People with bulimia most commonly abuse laxatives or self-induce vomiting in order to purge.
Some disorders that often co-occur are depression, anxiety, and OCD. As with many mental illnesses, people with bulimia are at a greater risk for substance abuse and suicidal thoughts.
For those who induce vomiting, tooth decay and damage to the throat are some of the first effects of bulimia. For abuse of laxatives, the intestines can be damaged, hemorrhoids are not uncommon, and it can become difficult for the bowels to function without the use of laxatives. Infertility and heart failure are a risk for both forms of purging.
Eating disorders are very serious psychiatric conditions. Someone with an eating disorder cannot just stop their behavior any more than someone with OCD can just stop theirs. If you recognize the signs of an eating disorder in a loved one, it is critical that you confront them in a sensitive and delicate way. The mental effects can warp well-meaning interventions and result in worsened symptoms. Learn the best way to approach your loved one and get them help before it is too late.
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