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What is an eating disorder?
Someone might be said to have an eating disorder when they have a significant preoccupation with food, calories, weight, and/or exercise. Sometimes professionals will say someone has “disordered eating,” which can lead to an eating disorder if left untreated. While no two eating disorders look alike, in general, it is the unhealthy relationship and behaviors regarding food and body image that can create disturbances in other areas of one’s life, causing emotional, physical, and relational issues.
Eating disorders are extremely complex and scientists are still working to determine exact causes. That being said, it is often believed that people turn to disordered eating patterns when other areas of their lives feel out of control and unmanageable. Genetics, environment, peer and societal pressure, and emotional health all are believed to contribute to disordered eating.
There are several different types of eating disorders, and each type can be associated with varying symptoms.
Anorexia Nervosa symptoms include:
- Restricting one’s diet with the intention of significant weight loss
- Low energy
- Loss of menstruation
- Irregular heart rhythms
- Feelings of guilt or shame about eating
- Social withdrawl
Bulimia Nervosa symptoms include:
- The same symptoms as Anorexia Nervosa above
- Damaged teeth
Binge Eating Disorder symptoms include:
- Loss of control over eating often causing extreme binging
- Weight gain
- Feelings of embarrassment or disgust
Am I at risk?
While anyone may develop an eating disorder, certain groups are at higher risk than other groups. females currently account for 90% of all eating disorders. Often eating disorders begin during the teenage years, most frequently seen in industrialized societies where there is an abundance of food as well as extreme societal pressure to be thin. here is an increased risk for an eating disorder if other individuals in the family suffer from disordered eating. There is a higher risk for the development of eating disorders in athletes whose sport places a value on being thin, like dancers and gymnasts. Eating disorders are also more frequently seen in individuals who have been sexually abused as children.
Eating Disorders At A Glance
- Approximately 24 million people in the US struggle with an eating disorder
- Only 10% of those with Eating Disorders seek treatment
- Eating Disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness
- Men make up 10-15% of those with Eating Disorders, but are less likely to seek help due to social stigma and gender stereotypes surrounding eating disorders