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Is An Eating Disorder A Mental Illness

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Eating Disorders & Depression

Mental Health Minute: Eating Disorders

Literature has also shown the prevalence of co-occurring depression in individuals who have eating disorders. A study with more than 2,400 participants found that 94% of individuals who received inpatient treatment for an eating disorder also had symptoms of depression.

Depression and eating disorders can share similar symptoms, which sometimes makes it difficult for professionals to distinguish the presence of both conditions. Both mental health concerns cause individuals to experience mood changes such as irritability, anxiety, guilt, shame, and low self-esteem. Individuals who suffer from an eating disorder and depression may also display appetite changes, disordered eating behaviors, and physical symptoms such as digestive issues, muscle aches, and bloating.

There is a clear overlap between some of these symptoms, demonstrating the need for careful evaluation and well-rounded, condition-specific behavioral health treatment.

Eating Disorders During Pregnancy And The Postnatal Period

During pregnancy and the postnatal period, healthcare professionals should routinely sensitively enquire if the woman has a current or past history of eating disorder and be aware of potential barriers for disclosure.

Healthcare professionals should discuss with women who are pregnant how their eating disorder symptoms may change during the antenatal and postnatal period.

Healthcare professionals should be aware of the risk of relapse, particularly in the postnatal period.

Referral to eating disorder services and/or perinatal mental health services should be considered for pregnant women with a current or past eating disorder.

Care planning with the extended multidisciplinary team should be considered for pregnant women with a current or past history of an eating disorder relevant to their presenting needs.

Take The Brave Step Toward Recovery

Eating disorders are mental illnesses. Thankfully, professionals are successfully diagnosing and treating mental health concerns every day. We can all take the steps to educate ourselves and learn about making changes. These steps will lead us in the direction of a higher quality relationship with food. After all, we truly need it to live.

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Clinical Definitions Of A Mental Illness And An Eating Disorder

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V defines a mental disorder as syndromes characterized by clinically significant disturbances in a persons behavior, emotion regulation or cognition that reflects dysfunction in the developmental, biological or psychological processes fundamental to mental functioning. The DSM-V further defines mental illness as different from socially deviant behavior because this type of behavior emerges as a rift between society and the individual.

Instead of simply classifying eating disorders as a unique mental illness, the DSM-V provides criteria for each eating disorder that must be met in order for a psychologist to provide a diagnosis. For example, the DSM-V describes unspecified eating or feeding disorders such as selective eating disorder or pica as a disorder causing significant impairment or distress in occupational, social or other areas important to normal functioning. Unspecified eating disorders fail to meet criteria listed in the DSM-V but still warrant a diagnosis of an eating/feeding disorder.

Eating Disorders Can Kill

Mental Health: Facts About Eating Disorders [Infographic ...

Eating disorders can be deadly. In research studies, the death rate for people with eating disorders is many times higher than that of the general population. And more people die from anorexia nervosa than from any other mental illness.

It might be hard to imagine that having an eating disorder can put your life in danger, but it can. Some people with eating disorders starve to death. An eating disorder can also make other medical conditions worse, leading to death. People with eating disorders frequently die from substance abuse or suicide.

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Eating Disorders: The Deadliest Mental Illnesses

Those behind National Eating Disorders Awareness Week want to make help available to those who need it most.

Eating disorders carry the highest risk of death of any mental illness.

Having an eating disorder, according to Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association, is like being born with a gun and life pulls the trigger.

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While other mental conditions are nothing to be trifled with, this is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and while Grefe says the dialogue about eating disorders is turning the corner, theres still a lot more that must be said.

The discussion, she said, is now about treating eating disorders as the mental illnesses they are.

You wouldnt criticize someone with cancer. We need to be treating this like a tumor, Grefe said. You take them by the hand and help them.

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Dr. Elayne Daniels is a non-diet, Certified Intuitive Eating specialist and scientific psychologist in MA. If youre suffering along with your frame symbol and/or eating dysfunction, touch her on her website or send her an electronic mail.

This article used to be at the beginning published at Reprinted with permission from the author.

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The Dangers Of A Distorted Body Image

Body image is directly tied to these eating disorders. The disappointment, depression, anxiety, and shame surrounding physical appearance can greatly affect mental health. While changing diet can be healthy, eating disorders often take these notions and distort them, creating a consistently negative view of your physical appearance or even your entire being.

The constant assumption that you are not good enough or attractive enough not only facilitates feelings of anxiety and depression but also leads to the development of further mental health disorders or drastic coping strategies. Such strategies can include more developed disordered eating, substance abuse, or other self-destructive behaviors to cope with the pervasive anxieties and depression that pollute your self-image.

Information For Carers Friends And Relatives

Eating disorders is the 2nd deadliest mental illness

If you are a carer, friend or relative of someone who hears voices, you can get support.

How can I get support?

You can do the following.

  • Speak to your GP about medication and talking therapies for yourself.
  • Speak to your relatives care team about a carers assessment.
  • Ask for a carers assessment from your local social services.
  • Join a carers service. They are free and available in most areas.
  • Join a carers support group for emotional and practical support. Or set up your own.

What is a carers assessment?A carers assessment is an assessment of the support that you need so that you can continue in your caring role.

To get a carers assessment you need to contact your local authority.

How do I get support from my peers?You can get peer support through carer support services or carers groups. You can search for local groups in your area by using a search engine such as Google. Or you can contact the Rethink Mental Illness Advice Service and we will search for you.

How can I support the person I care for?

You can do the following.

  • Read information about eating disorders.
  • Ask the person you support to tell you what their symptoms are and if they have any self-management techniques that you could help them with.
  • Encourage them to see a GP if you are worried about their mental health.
  • Ask to see a copy of their care plan, if they have one. They should have a care plan if they are supported by a care coordinator.
  • Help them to manage their finances.

You can find out more about:

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What Are The Most Common Types Of Eating Disorders

According to the International Classification of Diseases published by the World Health Organization , we can distinguish several types of ED. The American Psychiatric Association completes this list. The official categorisation helps with the diagnosis of eating disorders. However, there are also other unspecified problems that resemble these illnesses in many ways. And we wont leave those out of our overview either.

Who Is At Risk For Eating Disorders

Eating disorders can affect people of all ages, racial/ethnic backgrounds, body weights, and genders. Although eating disorders often appear during the teen years or young adulthood, they may also develop during childhood or later in life .

Remember: People with eating disorders may appear healthy, yet be extremely ill.

The exact cause of eating disorders is not fully understood, but research suggests a combination of genetic, biological, behavioral, psychological, and social factors can raise a persons risk.

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What If I Am Not Happy With My Treatment

If you are not happy with your treatment you can:

  • talk to your doctor about your treatment and ask for a second opinion,
  • get an advocate to help you speak to your doctor,
  • contact Patient Advice and Liaison Service and see whether they can help, or
  • make a complaint.

There is more information about these options below:

Second opinion

If you are not happy with your treatment you should talk to your doctor and see if you can resolve the situation with them. You can refer to the NICE guidelines if you feel your doctor is not offering you the right treatment. See below for more about this.

You may feel that your treatment should be changed. If your doctor does not agree you could ask for a second opinion. You are not legally entitled to a second opinion, but your doctor might agree to it if it would help with treatment options.


An advocate is independent from the NHS. This means that the NHS doesnt employ them. Advocacy services are free to use. Usually a charity will run an advocacy service. An advocate is there to support you.

They can help to make your voice heard when you are trying to sort problems. They may be able to help you to write a letter to the NHS or go to a meeting with you.

There may be a local advocacy service in your area which you can contact for support. You can search online for a local service. You can also call our advice service on 0300 5000 927 or email us at and we can look for you.

How Can You Get Support

Eating Disorders Myths...Busted.

You can find support groups, doctor referrals, and other information from the Binge Eating Disorder Association, the National Eating Disorders Association , and the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders .

If you’d like to talk to someone, you can call the NEDA helpline at 931-2237 or the ANAD helpline at 577-1330. They’re available Monday through Friday.

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What Are The Different Types Of Eating Disorders

There are many different eating disorders. This factsheet covers Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder and Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders.

Anorexia Nervosa

You will try to keep your weight as low as possible if you have anorexia. You may think you are overweight even if others say you are dangerously thin. You may fear gaining weight and dismiss ideas to encourage you to eat more.

Behavioural symptoms Physical signs
Strict dieting. Such as counting the calories in food excessively, avoiding food you think is fattening and eat only low-calorie food. Being secretive. Such as hiding food, lying about what you have eaten and avoiding eating with other people. Cut food into tiny pieces to make it less obvious that you have eaten little. Take appetite suppressants such as diet pills. Over exercising and get upset if something stops you from exercising. Becoming socially isolated.

Other eating disorders and eating problems

Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder OSFED means you have symptoms of an eating disorder. But you don’t have all the typical symptoms of anorexia, bulimia or BED. You could have a mixture of symptoms from different eating disorders. This does not mean that your illness is less serious. It used to be known as Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified .

Diabulimia is not a recognised medical term but it is what people call it.

How Are Eating Disorders Diagnosed

Doctors use guidelines for diagnosing different mental health conditions, such as eating disorders. When deciding on a diagnosis doctors will look at these guidelines. They will look at what symptoms you have had. And how long you have had these for. The main guidelines are:

  • International Classification of Diseases , produced by the World Health Organisation , and
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual , produced by the American Psychiatric Association.

A health professional will assess you to work out if they think you have an eating disorder. As part of the assessment they will:

  • ask about your feelings, thoughts and behaviours,
  • see if there has been any rapid weight loss,
  • check if your body mass index is too high or too low,
  • ask you about any diets that you are on,
  • listen to the concerns that your family or carers have about your eating behaviour, and
  • think about different reasons for your symptoms.

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The Bullets Of Society

If you saw a friend with a gun to their head, youd talk them out of it, Grefe said in an interview with ishonest. Eating disorders are like having a gun to your head. And sadly, society is ready and waiting to pull the trigger.

Critics are quick to blame the medias portrayal of beautyjust review the Oscars coverage and note how many times reporters comment on someones attire or figurebut theres more to it than that.

The Marlboro Man didnt cause lung cancer, but he did encourage people to smoke, Grefe said. Some peoplenot everyonewill do anything to look like that. We cant blame the media because if the media caused eating disorders, wed all have one.

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However, society and popular culture do put pressure on people, especially the young, to look and act a certain way. Images of perfectly-sculpted men and women are all around us, and its up to parents to help their children navigate these messages.

Theres a lot of chaos out there, Grefe said. Theres a lot of confusion out there, especially for young people.

What Are The Symptoms Of Binge Eating Disorder

Raising awareness about eating disorders and discussing mental health | KVUE

If you have binge eating disorder, you:

  • Eat more food than other people do in the same situation.
  • Diet a lot
  • Lose desire for sex

People with binge eating disorder don’t try to throw up after overeating. You can get other health problems related to gaining weight or unhealthy eating, too, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease.

You also may have trouble sleeping, muscle and joint pain, and digestive problems. Women may have irregular or infrequent menstrual periods.

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Similarities Between Eating Disorders And Mental Illnesses

Psychologists and psychiatrists specializing in eating disorders do not differentiate between mental illness and anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating or unspecified eating disorders. Assessments detailing physical and psychological symptoms of patients admitted to eating disorder treatment centers include symptoms supporting a diagnosis of mental illness, such as:

  • Anxiety/panic/agitation
  • Depression, suicide ideation and feelings of hopelessness
  • Inability to control obsessing over food, weight and appearance
  • Inability to keep a job or stay in school because of an overwhelming preoccupation with their weight
  • Body dysmorphia

In severe eating disorder cases, an eating disorder therapist may need to prescribe antipsychotic medications to patients who present with delusional thinking, paranoia and/or hallucinations upon the patient entering an eating disorder recovery program. Before eating disorders can be addressed through intense psychotherapy, underlying mental health issues must be recognized and treated appropriately. Eating disorders are not a product of someones out-of-control vanity. It is a mental illness emerging from deep-seated psychological dilemmas rooted in genetic and biopsychosocial factors affecting patients during childhood.

What To Do If You Think You Experience Disordered Eating

Many people with disordered eating feel that their experiences arent bad enough, or they arent “thin enough” to need professional help.

No matter what a person weighs, how much or little they eat, anybody experiencing unhealthy eating patterns and distress about how they look should seek professional support.

Its a good idea to try to find help sooner rather than later. The earlier you get support, the quicker you can start recovering.

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Things To Look Out For

There are a number of things that loved ones can look out for when it comes to eating disorders and mental illnesses, and its not just their eating pattern that you can keep an eye on:

  • Poor body image or an obsession with food, body shape or bodyweight
  • Life being taken over by this obsession, leading them to neglect other things
  • Excessive exercise, purging through vomiting or laxative use, or obsession with weighing or measuring themselves
  • Anxiety around food and body image, for example, feeling upset after eating a large amount of food, becoming upset when gaining small amounts of food
  • Being unable to focus on anything other than food and body image
  • Avoiding eating with others, whether at home or social occasions
  • Seeming constantly weak and fatigued, sometimes suffering from constant illnesses due to malnourishment

Can Binge Eating Disorder Be Prevented

How to Help Someone with an Eating Disorder

Although it might not be possible to prevent all cases of binge eating disorder, it is helpful to begin treatment as soon as symptoms start. In addition, teaching and encouraging healthy eating habits and realistic attitudes about food and body image might be helpful in preventing the development or worsening of eating disorders.

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The Orthorexic Is Defined As An Animal That Is Over Three Metres High

Is Orthorexia an is Orthorexia? is a negative approach to eating based on the consumption of a certain kind of food. If you have orthorexia, you spend inordinate amounts of time worrying about what you eat if you wish. 1996 is the year in which Dr. Steven Bratman, a dentist from California, referred to the term.

What Is Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is a condition where people have recurrent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food and feeling a lack of control over their eating. This binge eating is followed by behaviors that compensate for the overeating to prevent weight gain, such as forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, excessive exercise, or a combination of these behaviors. Unlike those with anorexia nervosa, people with bulimia nervosa may maintain a normal weight or be overweight.

Symptoms and health consequences of bulimia nervosa include:

  • Chronically inflamed and sore throat
  • Swollen salivary glands in the neck and jaw area
  • Worn tooth enamel and increasingly sensitive and decaying teeth from exposure to stomach acid when vomiting
  • Acid reflux disorder and other gastrointestinal problems
  • Intestinal distress and irritation from laxative abuse
  • Severe dehydration from purging
  • Electrolyte imbalance , which can lead to stroke or heart attack

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