When most people hear of someone with an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia, they almost always automatically assume the person has a problem with food. This is quite understandable as eating disorders present themselves primarily as food related behaviors. However, eating disorders are not a sign that a person has a problem with food, it is much more complicated than that. Rather, an eating disorder is actually a brain based disorder which is characterized by abnormal food related behaviors.
While eating disorders are often poorly understood, they are probably more common than you think they are. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, as many as ten million Americans suffer from some type of eating disorder. These conditions can affect men and women of all ages.
Without proper treatment, eating disorders can be deadly; in fact, anorexia is considered the most deadly of all mental illnesses. This is because when a body does not have the nutrition that it needs over a prolonged period of time there will inevitably be a remarkable physical and mental decline. This can result in all sorts of complications and diseases that may result in death. Eating disorders don’t only affect the person diagnosed with the condition, either; they affect the entire family.
With proper treatment, though, people can fully recover. We want to give you the information you need about eating disorders and related conditions so that you can recognize problems in yourself or loved ones and get the appropriate help. Education is only the first step in a lengthy journey toward recovery, but we want to give you as much information, help, and support as possible as you embark on this process. The road to recovery is a long and difficult one, but it’s certainly worth the effort.
This section will provide you with definitions, statistics, signs and symptoms, and physical and medical complications of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, orthorexia, and other eating disorders and related conditions. You can learn about possible causes of eating disorders and how to help prevent them. We also have a section about how eating disorders affect children, men, athletes, pregnant women, and other special populations. It is important that you understand how important it is to seek treatment either for yourself, or for someone that you love if you are worried that they have an eating disorder. The longer that a person suffers without treatment, the harder an eating disorder is to treat.
This is why, perhaps most importantly, we will tell you how to get help if you or someone you love has any of these serious conditions. We can also point you in the right direction regarding how to get help for the whole family, as eating disorders also affect the lives of those people that are around the sufferer. If you are a parent, you can learn what parents can do to recognize signs of eating disorders in children and how to get your children the help they need. We can give you information regarding the most effective treatment models and different types of therapy used in the treatment of eating disorders. We can help you find professionals that you will be able to ask questions of, and help you to understand when inpatient treatment might be necessary. Should this be the case, we can help you find out how to find a therapist or treatment center.
Along with information, we want to give you hope. We want you to see that recovery is possible, even if it’s hard, even if it takes a long time, even if it seems far away or impossible. We want to encourage you to seek help, to build a support system, and to continue on your journey to health and wellness. We want you to survive.
Updated by Tabitha Farrar – 2014