Excess of anything is bad, and if it is food then probably it’s worse. For, excessive eating is not just harmful for physical health, but can also be a threat to good mental health. The psychological problems that one is exposed to due to eating disorder make it important to tackle it at an early stage. Of all the psychological problems, eating disorder is said to have the highest mortality rate.
As the United States of America observes the ongoing week (February 21-27) as the Eating Disorder Awareness Week, Sovereign Health Group takes a look at the serious threat this mental problem poses. The indelible impact an eating disorder leaves can be felt as medical complications arise leaving behind a quality of life – poor and shattered. Medical practitioners advise its effective treatment at an early stage to do away with the debilitating effects which an eating disorder may cause.
What is an eating disorder?
There is a difference between eating disorders and disordered eating. Disordered eating involves consumption of unhealthy foods, but it is less severe than an eating disorder. Disordered eating though has symptoms similar to eating disorders, thus making it difficult to differentiate the former from the later.
The main thing that differentiates the two is the extent of seriousness and frequency of the behaviors. While eating disorder may lead to grave physical and emotional consequences, including diseases of the heart and loss of life, the severity of disordered eating can give way to eating disorders. Treating eating disorders is way beyond concentrating on the food itself; it is also about treating the accompanying mental and emotional distresses.
The Mental Health America (MHA) puts forward that people with eating disorders experience serious disturbances in their eating patterns, such as a severe and unhealthy reduction in their food intake or overeating, as well as extreme concern about body shape or weight. The myth that eating disorders are due to poor willpower or bad behavior and affect only women needs to be challenged and busted.
Eating disorder is treatable
Eating disorder can affect anyone at the adolescent or adult phase of life, but is treatable. The two main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Amy Ozier, associate professor at Northern Illinois University’s College of Health and Human Sciences said, “Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are life-threatening, but more recently, binge eating disorder is the most prevalent.”
An eating disorder affects approximately 30 million people in the U.S. As per the statistics by the Colorado-based Eating Disorders Foundation, cases and instances of eating disorders are five times more prevalent than Alzheimer’s disease. The kinds of eating disorders including anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder will affect an estimated 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States at some point in their lives as per the data revealed by the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA).
People suffering from binge eating disorder (BED) show symptoms of repetitive instances of lack of control of food intake, often to the extent of suffering from physical pain or intense discomfort followed by feelings of intense shame, emotions of guilt and promises to never repeat it again.
Comorbidity of eating disorders and depression
The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders stressed in 2015 that an estimated 50 percent of people suffering from eating disorders also suffer from depression. While it is not clear as to whether people suffering from depression as a result of eating disorder or vice versa, psychologists opine that eating disorders give way to expressions of low self-esteem along with feelings of anxiety, loneliness and stress. While the persistent phase of gloom and depression disables people from making decisions or concentrating on their daily tasks, it has also been found that eating habits of such people also change drastically. The unrelenting phase of darkness that engulfs a person while he is depressed also causes him either to lose his appetite or eat more than his daily intake.
Joslyn Smith, senior legislative assistant for public interest policy, American Psychological Association said, “Eating disorders are debilitating and can be fatal. A 2003 Archives of General Psychiatry (Vol. 60, No. 2) study revealed that those suffering from anorexia are 56 times more likely to take their own lives than their healthy peers.
The American Journal of Psychiatry reported that those suffering from eating disorders also suffer from depression about half of the time. Furthering the link between eating disorders and depression, a study by Academy for Eating Disorders reported that only half of those with anorexia and bulimia recover fully, and even among those who have recovered from anorexia, many continue to maintain low body weights and experience depression. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases reveals that approximately half of all patients diagnosed with binge eating disorder have a history of depression.
Common signs and symptoms
While families need to look for conditions of eating disorders that may exist among their wards, the most common behavioral symptoms that may reflect the problem of eating disorder among teenagers are:
- Social withdrawal;
- Skipping meals;
- Poor perception of own body image;
- Repetitive tendencies to weigh one’s own weight;
- Feeling of discomfort to eat at public places;
- Tendency to consume only low-calorie foods in others’ presence such as lettuce, melon or celery;
- Cooking big and complicated meals for guests, but eating none or very little themselves;
- Palpable symptoms such as constant feelings of fatigue, poor concentration and frequent mood swings.
Debunking myths about eating disorders
There are myths about eating disorders that it’s more prevalent in women than in men. The untoward discrimination of females being more prone to eating disorders has been busted by various medical practitioners who have put forward that men suffering from these disorders rarely seek help leaving more women in line for treatment of this disease.
Outlook of families are responsible for the onset of this disease is a myth which has been contradicted by various psychologists who claim that parents are the biggest allies during treatment of such patients. The myth that eating disorders are just passing fads has been disproved by various studies that have found out that eating disorders are, in fact, serious biologically influenced mental illnesses.
Looking for recovery
The Sovereign Mental Health Services has a team of professional experts who are committed to understanding and treatment of various mental problems with the help of updated research and therapeutic measures backed by state-of-the-art facilities. You may reach us through our 24/7 helpline number 866-954-0529 or online chat.