- Article SummaryPrint
- Different Types of Eating Disorders
- Why People Develop Eating Disorders
- Who Is at Risk?
- Most Common Eating Disorder Symptoms
- Physical and Psychological Effects of Eating Disorders
- Options for Treatment of Eating Disorders
Professional eating disorder treatment is an essential component in the recovery of a person with an eating disorder. An eating disorder is not simply a diet gone wrong. It is not a fad or a phase that a person will eventually leave behind. Eating disorders are complex mental illnesses that can have life-threatening health consequences if left untreated.
An eating disorder is often hard to distinguish from an ordinary diet. People with eating problems are typically adept at hiding the signs and symptoms of their illness. Doctors often fail to identify an eating disorder as the basic problem when confronted with a patient who is hiding the illness.
If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, you need to seek professional help. Early treatment can make all the difference in the likelihood of a complete recovery. Our 24-hour national referral hotline can help you identify the best eating disorder treatment options. Call our treatment advisors at 1-800-928-9139 or fill out a contact form through the website. The consultation is free and confidential.
Eating disorders affect as many as 10 million women and one million men in the United States.
Studies have shown that a country's degree of westernization increases the risk of its female population developing eating disorders.
Eating disorders are the third most common chronic illness in adolescent females in the United States.
Different Types of Eating Disorders
Eating disorders include multiple mental illnesses that have to do with food. The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder, also known as compulsive eating or food addiction. There are other, less common eating disorders, such as pica, and disorders that are not defined by any single pathology, such as obesity and other types of body dysmorphia. All types of eating disorders result in severe physical and psychological health consequences and often require professional eating disorder treatment to overcome.
Why People Develop Eating Disorders
Dieting is a national industry that generates billions of dollars in revenue. The notion that Americans are fat and could stand to lose some weight is a popular theme. A certain level of preoccupation with weight and dieting is considered normal, even desirable, by the large majority of people. This cultural focus on weight and dieting makes it hard to know when and how this focus morphs into a mental illness.
Eating disorders are often the result of a complex combination of biological, psychological, interpersonal, social, and environmental factors. People who develop eating disorders also suffer from body dysmorphic disorder and have an altered vision of themselves that they have internalized. The media's power to promote certain idealized images of beauty is considered a significant factor in the development of the type of negative self-esteem and body image that drive eating disorders.
If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, professional treatment is available to help conquer the problem. Call our national referral helpline at 1-800-928-9139 or fill out a contact form to discuss your options with a treatment advisor. Our advisors are available 24 hours a day, every day of the week.
The modeling industry presents a skewed image of healthy female body weight. The average body weight for models is 117 pounds. Most models are thinner than 98 percent of American women.
Teen girls use the media as their main source of information about women's health issues.
Who Is at Risk?
"Eating disorders are not limited to the rich or the poor. Any age group can be affected-even children."The statistics concerning eating disorders make it very clear that women suffer from these types of illnesses disproportionately. Although men are much less likely to develop an eating disorder than women, there are over a million men in the United States who suffer from a disorder. Eating disorders are not limited to the rich or the poor. Any age group can be affected-even children.
Medical professionals do not fully understand why people develop eating disorders. There is research to support the theory that certain categories of people are more susceptible, such as women suffering from ADHD and sexual trauma, and girls who are in the foster care system. Many professionals focus on the effects of the media and peer pressure on internalized notions of the ideal body image. Genetics can also play a role in the likelihood that a person will develop an eating disorder.
Call us at 1-800-928-9139 to discuss eating disorder treatment options in your area. Our toll-free helpline is available 24 hours a day. Alternatively, fill out an information form on the website and we will contact you.
Having anorexia has become popular with teenage girls in recent years. Pro-anorexic groups and websites allow individuals to idealize the notion of having an extremely low body weight. These groups do not believe anorexia is a mental illness that needs to be cured.
Most Common Eating Disorder Symptoms
Recognizing the signs and symptoms of an eating disorder in a loved one can help save his or her life. Early treatment is the key to full recovery, so knowing the difference between an eating disorder and ordinary dieting can help the alarm bells go off in your head in enough time to stage an intervention.
Signs and symptoms of anorexia:
- Dramatic weight loss
- Refusing food or not eating enough food for an ordinary person
- Extreme fear of being fat
- Feeling fat or overweight despite dramatic weight loss
- Refusing to maintain a healthy body weight
- Loss of menstrual periods
Signs and symptoms of bulimia:
- Binge eating
- Eating more food than would be considered ordinary in a single sitting
- Abusing laxatives, diuretics, or diet pills
- Forced vomiting
- Repeated cycles of binging and fasting
- Frequent dieting
- Feelings of inadequacy centered around body image
Signs and symptoms of binge eating disorder:
- Periods of uncontrolled eating beyond the point of feeling full
- Sporadic fasts
- Repetitive dieting
- Exhibiting feelings of shame or self-hatred after a binge
- Constantly changing body weight
If you are ready to get your life back on a healthy track, call our toll-free hotline at 1-800-928-9139 or fill out a contact form on our website to discuss your eating disorder treatment options. The call is confidential, and our advice is offered with no obligations.
Girls aged 15 to 19 years are at the highest risk of developing anorexia. Forty percent of new cases of anorexia are girls in this age bracket.
Physical and Psychological Effects of Eating Disorders
"Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that often result in life-threatening medical conditions. "Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that often result in life-threatening medical conditions. The food that people eat provides the fuel that the body needs to work. If a person restricts his or her food intake or interferes with the way the body processes food, it can result in the body taking drastic steps to protect itself.
All of the potential physical consequences of malnutrition are in play with eating disorders. Moreover, the suicide rate for people afflicted with an eating disorder is extremely high. Studies have found that women between the ages of 15 and 24 with anorexia nervosa have twelve times the death rate from the eating disorder than from of any other cause of death.
Adolescents are at particular risk for the negative physical and psychological effects of eating disorders. Anorexia nervosa in teens can retard growth, delay or arrest puberty, prevent the acquisition of peak bone mass, and increase the risk of osteoporosis. Bulimia can result in fluid imbalances, gastric complications, cardiac arrest, bowel problems, erosion of the enamel on the teeth, and hypometabolism. Some of these conditions can be irreversible in young people, making early intervention critical.
Eating disorders also hide and perpetuate additional psychological problems. Problems with food can lead to depression, anxiety, and personality disorders. Trying to hide eating disorder symptoms can impair relationships, negatively impact school and work, and prevent the person from socializing with others. The stress from this sort of mental illness can even lead to substance abuse problems.
Potential health consequences of anorexia nervosa:
- Slow heart rate
- Low blood pressure
- Heart failure
- Muscle loss and weakness
- Kidney failure
- Dry hair and skin
- Hair loss
- Growth of a downy layer of hair all over the body
Potential health consequences of bulimia nervosa:
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Irregular heartbeat
- Heart failure
- Gastric rupture
- Inflammation and rupture of the esophagus
- Tooth decay
- Irregular bowel movements
- Peptic ulcers
Potential health consequences of binge eating disorder:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Type II diabetes
- Gallbladder disease
Anorexia nervosa results in the highest death rate of any mental illness.
Battling an eating disorder on your own can be difficult. Professional help is available and can provide the support system you need to overcome this disease. Call our national referral hotline at 1-800-928-9139 to speak to a treatment advisor, or fill out a contact form on the website. We can help you select the right eating disorder treatment options to meet your individual needs.
Options for Treatment of Eating Disorders
It is of critical importance to treat eating disorders as early as possible. Early treatment increases the likelihood of recovery and prevents malnutrition from causing chronic medical conditions. Unfortunately, eating disorders are often misdiagnosed by doctors, and many people who are suffering from a disorder are adept at hiding the signs. A person may have been suffering from an eating disorder for years before the problem is acknowledged and treatment becomes an option.
Research has found that short-term treatment for eating disorders is rarely effective. Eating disorders are complex psychological and biological illnesses that have integrated components of environmental conditioning. One of the primary indicators of successful treatment is if the person involved has gained or maintained a healthy weight. Short-term treatment releases the patient at a lower body weight than long-term treatment.
Most people would not expect a person diagnosed with schizophrenia to be able to recover from the mental illness on his or her own. There would be little expectation of success in pursuing self-treatment of such a serious condition. Likewise, people with eating disorders need professional treatment to recover from the illness.
The experts in successfully treating eating disorders recommend long-term, scaled treatment that occurs over the course of five to seven years. Inpatient residential care is suggested for severe cases, followed by day treatment through a clinic or residential facility. This initial care protocol should be followed by intensive outpatient treatment. The person should participate in individual and group therapy throughout the entire course of treatment.
Inpatient residential treatment is the gold standard of eating disorder treatments. The ability to battle the illness in a structured environment that monitors food intake while working with the resident on the root causes of the disorder is often an invaluable resource on the road to recovery. Residential treatment facilities are often located in tranquil environments with natural beauty that residents can enjoy and tap into as part of their recovery. Each residence has its own therapeutic approach that distinguishes it from other facilities.
Typical eating disorder treatment components of residential facilities:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Individual psychiatric counseling
- Alternative treatments, such as music, art, and hypnotherapy
- Experiential activities to build self-esteem
- Group therapy
- Family and couples' counseling
- Peer support groups using 12-step addiction philosophies
- Neuro feedback
- Nutritional education
- Monitored living arrangements
- Assistance with preparing and consuming meals in group settings
Eating disorders require intensive, long-term treatment, but the insurance industry often refuses to pay for such extensive care. Unlike with other mental illnesses, states and insurance carriers are allowed to set their own definitions and standards of treatment for eating disorders. Choosing the right treatment options for an eating disorder when faced with coverage issues can be a daunting process if you try to do it alone. If you or a loved one needs advice or assistance, call our national referral helpline at 1-800-928-9139 to speak to a treatment advisor, or fill out a contact form on the website. Our help is free and confidential.
Early treatment is the key to recovery for people with eating disorders. For example, long-term research has shown that people with bulimia nervosa have an 80 percent recovery rate if treated within the first five years of developing the illness. If not treated for 15 years after first developing symptoms, the recovery rate falls to 20 percent.