Eating Disorders Are Not Serious Illnesses False
Many mental illnesses, including eating disorders, can be easy to misjudge or underestimate. The reality is that eating disorders carry consequential risks that can be potentially damaging to a person suffering, including the following repercussions:
- Physical Risks: Eating disorders can cause damaging physical effects, including malnourishment, cardiovascular complications, gastrointestinal distress, and many more medical complications.
- Mental Risks: Individuals with eating disorders may be at an increased risk for other mental health issues, including mood and anxiety disorders, self-harm, and suicide.
- Social Risks: Eating disorders can cause individuals suffering to isolate from their families and loved ones. These illnesses can also put tremendous strain on a family unit and in relationships.
Greater awareness about the severity of eating disorders can help people connect to the professional help they need.
Many women who are struggling with an eating disorder tend to minimize their illness or may simply not be aware of how serious their problems are. Greater awareness about the severity of eating disorders can help people connect to the professional help they need.
Myths About Eating Disorders And Why Theyre Not True
Mental illness, including eating disorders, comes with tremendous stigma and shame. For decades, eating disorders have been misunderstood on multiple levels, creating confusion, embarrassment, and unnecessary guilt for those who are struggling as well as their loved ones. On the surface, eating disorders often present as difficulty eating or abnormal eating behaviors, but research has shown there are many complexities involved with these mental illnesses.
On the surface, eating disorders often present as difficulty eating or abnormal eating behaviors, but research has shown there are many complexities involved with these mental illnesses.
Recognizing the stigmas around eating disorders is important to dispel the myths that may be circulating about these mental health conditions. When the truth is understood about eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder than powerful change can be created for all individuals who are affected by mental illness. Challenging the myths around eating disorders may be helpful for:
- Improving access to treatment and care for those who are struggling
- Increase awareness and understanding about a mental illness that could be fatal
- Encouraging loved ones to reach out for help sooner
- Improving the prognosis and outcomes for eating disorder sufferers
What Is Anorexia Nervosa
People with anorexia nervosa avoid food, severely restrict food, or eat very small quantities of only certain foods. Even when they are dangerously underweight, they may see themselves as overweight. They may also weigh themselves repeatedly.
There are two subtypes of anorexia nervosa: a restrictive subtype and binge-purge subtype.
Restrictive: People with the restrictive subtype of anorexia nervosa place severe restrictions on the amount and type of food they consume.
Binge-Purge: People with the binge-purge subtype of anorexia nervosa also place severe restrictions on the amount and type of food they consume. In addition, they may have binge eating and purging behaviors .
- Brain damage
- Multiorgan failure
Anorexia can be fatal. Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder. People with anorexia may die from medical conditions and complications associated with starvation by comparison, people with others eating disorders die of suicide.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs immediate help, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK , 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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What Causes An Eating Disorder
Eating disorders are believed to result from a combination of biological vulnerability, environmental, and social factors. A useful way of thinking about what causes an eating disorder is to distinguish predisposing, precipitating and perpetuating factors that contribute to its onset and maintenance.
Are Certain Personality Traits More Common In Individuals With Eating Disorders
Individuals who develop eating disorders, especially those with the restricting subtype of anorexia nervosa are often perfectionistic, eager to please others, sensitive to criticism, and self-doubting. They may have difficulty adapting to change and be routine bound. A smaller group of patients with eating disorders have a more extroverted temperament and are novelty-seeking and impulsive with difficulty maintaining stable relationships. There is no one personality associated with eating disorders, however.
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Using A Comprehensive Approach We Provide These Services:
- Evaluate your condition
- Create a customized treatment plan that may include individual, group or family therapy, and nutritional counseling
- Perform a medical assessment and a psychiatric evaluation, as appropriate
- Educate you on the functions of food, the importance of meal planning for symptom management and the need to develop normal eating behaviors
Take Our Self AssessmentAnswer true or false to the following questions I make myself sick when I feel uncomfortably full. I worry I have lost control over how much I eat. I recently lost more than 15 pounds in a three-month period. I believe Im fat, but others say I am too thin. I would say food dominates my life.If you answered true to two or more of these statements, you might be at risk of an eating disorder. We can help. Complete ouronline health history questionnaire or contact our clinic at 320-255-5996 or at
What About The Treatment Of Other Eating Disorders Including Bed Arfid And Osfed
Eating disorders are behavioral problems and the most successful modalities of treatment all focus on normalizing eating and weight control behaviors whilst managing uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. Increasingly, we understand eating disorders as not just psychological problems but as disorders of learning and habit. Changing established habits can feel challenging, however practice of healthy eating behavior under expert therapeutic guidance helps develop skills needed to manage anxieties regarding food, weight and shape — all of which fade over time with the gradual achievement of mastery over recovery.
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What Forms Of Treatment Are Effective For Anorexia Nervosa
Treatment of anorexia nervosa involves nutritional rehabilitation to normalize weight and eating behavior. Psychotherapy is aimed at correcting irrational preoccupations with weight and shape, managing challenging emotions and anxieties and preventing relapse. Interventions include monitoring weight gain, prescribing an adequate diet, and admitting patients who fail to gain weight to a specialty inpatient or partial hospitalization program. Specialty programs combining close behavioral monitoring and meal support with psychological therapies are generally very effective in achieving weight gain in patients unable to gain weight in outpatient settings. The fear of fatness and body dissatisfaction characteristic of the disorder tend to extinguish gradually over several months once target weight and normal eating patterns are maintained, and 50-75% of patients eventually recover. No medications have been shown to significantly facilitate weight gain in patients with this disorder. In the case of patients under 18 years of age, family therapy aimed at helping parents support normal eating in their child has been found to be more effective than individual therapy alone.
What Is The Difference Between Anorexia Nervosa And Bulimia
Both anorexia nervosa and bulimia are characterized by an overvalued drive for thinness and a disturbance in eating behavior. The main difference between diagnoses is that anorexia nervosa is a syndrome of self-starvation involving significant weight loss of 15 percent or more of ideal body weight, whereas patients with bulimia nervosa are, by definition, at normal weight or above.
Bulimia is characterized by a cycle of dieting, binge-eating and compensatory purging behavior to prevent weight gain. Purging behavior includes vomiting, diuretic or laxative abuse. When underweight individuals with anorexia nervosa also engage in bingeing and purging behavior the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa supercedes that of binge/purging type.
Excessive exercise aimed at weight loss or at preventing weight gain is common in both anorexia nervosa and in bulimia.
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What Are Some Examples Of Nimh Research
Eating disorders tend to run in families, so one example of NIMH-supported research involves the study of human genetics. Researchers are working to identify DNA variations that are linked to an increased risk of developing eating disorders. This research may help develop strategies for early detection.
Brain imaging studies are also providing a better understanding of eating disorders. For example, researchers have found differences in patterns of brain neurocircuitry and activity in people with eating disorders in comparison with healthy people. This research may lead to new or improved ways to diagnose and treat eating disorders.
Boys And Girls Experience Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are more likely to affect females than males. However, about 25 per cent of cases in adolescents occur with males. Girls and boys can experience different social pressures about how they should look. Primary school-aged children are not immune to these pressures, and their attitudes and behaviours reflect adult concerns.Like many adult females, some girls want to lose weight and be thin. Like many adult males, some boys want to lose body fat, but increase muscle mass. Some boys try to meet unrealistically thin ideal standards.
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Dieting Increases The Risk Of Developing Eating Disorders
Dieting is common among adolescents and normalised by society, but it is not a healthy behaviour and should not be considered a normal part of being an adolescent. Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa can be triggered by dieting. A person who crash diets , substantially increases their risk of developing an eating disorder. Adolescents should not be encouraged to go on a diet.
What Are Symptoms Of Eating Disorders In Teens
Symptoms of eating disorders may include the following:
- A distorted body image
Grunbaum, J Kann, L Kinchen, S et al. Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report Surveillance Summary, 2004.Nattiv, A Agostini, R Drinkwater, B Yeager, K. Clinical Sports Medicine, 1994.Halmi, K et. al. American Journal of Psychiatry, November 2000.Whittal, M Agras, W Gould, R. Behavioral Therapy, 1999.Woodside, D. American Journal of Psychiatry, 2001.American Psychiatric Association Task Force on DSM-IV, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Ed, Text Revision, Washington, DC, 2000.Kelley R. Newsweek, Nov. 15, 2006.International Academy of Eating Disorders.National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.National Eating Disorders Association.
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Mental Health Treatment Locator
For more information, resources, and research on mental illnesses, visit the NIMH website at . The National Library of Medicines MedlinePlus website also has information on a wide variety of mental disorders.
For general information on mental health and to locate treatment services, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Treatment Referral Helpline at 1800662HELP . SAMHSA also has a Behavioral Health Treatment Locator on its website that can be searched by location.
Causes Of Eating Disorders
Causes of eating disorders are many and multifaceted. Sociocultural, psychological, genetic, and interpersonal issues are all contributing factors. An eating disorder may begin as a natural way to lose weight or get into shape and escalate out of control. There is usually no way to predict who will escalate and who will not. Athletes, dancers, gymnasts, models are probably more susceptible, but not all of these people have eating disorders. Dieting and thinness are encouraged by our society and difficult to avoid. Women and girls especially are consistently taught that their self-worth, hence their self-image, is dependent on their physical appearance. If this often unreasonable expectation of thinness is not met it may lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, lack of control, and inadequacy. In order to cope with these feelings a person may turn to eating as a means to exert some control or happiness over their life. And in the susceptible individual this escalates out of control.
Moving to a college campus may also precipitate problems. There is a new level of physical competition among females, increasing independence over decision-making, and often confusion with the new environment and freedom. This often leads to the development of a simmering eating disorder or the exacerbation of one that already exists.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
Asking questions and providing information to your doctor or health care provider can improve your care. Talking with your doctor builds trust and leads to better results, quality, safety, and satisfaction. Visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website for tips at www.ahrq.gov/patients-consumers.
More information about finding a health care provider or treatment for mental disorders is available on our Finding Help for Mental Illness webpage, available at .
Foster A Healthy Relationship With Food
You can encourage older children and adolescents to develop a healthy relationship with food if you:
- Try not to label foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ this sets up cravings and feelings of guilt when the ‘bad’ foods are eaten.
- Avoid using food as a reward, or for bribes or punishment.
- Accept that children are likely to have different eating habits from adults for instance, adolescents may require more food more frequently during the day or may go through periods of liking or disliking particular foods.
- Avoid going on diets and do not try to put your child on a diet.
- Allow your child to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. Do not force your child to eat everything that is on their plate.
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Types Of Eating Disorders
The main types of eating disorder include:
- anorexia nervosa characterised by restricted eating, loss of weight and a fear of putting on weight
- bulimia nervosa periods of binge eating , followed by attempts to compensate by excessively exercising, vomiting, or periods of strict dieting. Binge eating is often accompanied by feelings of shame and being ‘out of control’
- binge eating disorder characterised by recurrent periods of binge eating . Feelings of guilt, disgust and depression can follow binge eating episodes. Binge eating does not involve compensatory behaviours
- other specified feeding or eating disorder feeding or eating behaviours that cause the individual distress and impairment, but do not meet criteria for the first three eating disorders.
Treatment Of Eating Disorders
Treatment of Eating Disorders requires the care of professionals who have experience in their treatment. A multidisciplinary approach is generally most effective. This approach entails a combination of treatment from therapists, psychiatrists, nutritionists, and medical professionals. Treatment may or may not include medication. Ideally treatment will be tailored to the individual and may vary from person to person, drawing on individual resources, strengths and weaknesses, support systems, and severity of his or her symptoms.
Most treatment is done on an outpatient basis. However, hospitalization or more intensive out-patient treatment is recommended when an eating disorder has led to physical problems that may be life threatening. Some people may also require more supervision than weekly therapy can provide.
For any further information or referral please call one of the numbers below.
Confidentiality is assured.
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What Is Bulimia Nervosa
People with bulimia nervosa have recurrent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food and feeling a lack of control over these episodes. This binge-eating is followed by behaviors that compensate for the overeating, 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.
- Chronically inflamed and sore throat
- Swollen salivary glands in the neck and jaw area
- Worn tooth enamel and increasingly sensitive and decaying teeth
- 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
Can You Stunt Your Growth By Not Eating Enough
Poor nutrition can cause young children to become stunted, that is, to be too short for their age. In fact, an estimated 159 million children under five worldwide are stunted due to chronic malnutrition. Linear growth retardation, resulting in stunting, begins in utero and continues into infancy and early childhood.
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How Is Nimh Addressing Eating Disorders
The National Institute of Mental Health is conducting and supporting research that could help find new and improved ways to diagnose and treat eating disorders. For example, the NIMH Eating Disorders Research Program supports research on the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment at medical institutions across the country. It also supports studies that can help explain the risk factors that cause eating disorders to start or reoccur. The programs studies on treatment help move basic science findings from the lab bench to a patients bedside.
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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How Do I Know If I Need Inpatient Treatment
If you think you have an eating disorder, if your symptoms have persisted or worsened despite attempts at outpatient treatment, or if you feel constantly preoccupied by thoughts of food and weight, then a good place to start is with a comprehensive evaluation in our Consultation Clinic. To safely provide the best possible care during the COVID pandemic, we have expanded our outpatient telemedicine services to include remote clinical consultation and outpatient visits with our eating disorders doctors by videolink across multiple states. Video visits allow patients to connect face-to-face in real time without leaving their home by using their smartphone, tablet or computer. Virtual connections are secure and HIPAA compliant.
You will be seen by a psychiatrist who will perform a thorough review of your history and symptoms, medical tests and past treatment. We recommend you forward any past treatment records ahead of your appointment for the doctor to review. Whenever possible we ask that you attend the consultation with a close family member or significant other, since we believe family support and involvement is very important when you are struggling with an eating disorder. The doctor will also be interested in any medical or psychiatric problems you may have besides the eating disorder.