Eating disorders are mental disorders with a serious debilitating impact on health, productivity, and relationships. Almost 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States suffer from a clinical eating disorder at one point in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or an Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS).
A major contributor to the development of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa is body dissatisfaction, where people tend to judge their bodies according to certain parameters. They are more concerned about flaunting a flawless look and could go to any extent to achieve this. An eating disorder is categorized as a mental illness because of the following reasons:
- Restricting food intake, binging, and purging are associated with changes in the brain structure, metabolism, and neurochemistry, and these factors make it exceedingly difficult to change the behavioral patterns of individuals with eating disorders.
- Eating disorders are linked to cognitive and emotional impairment that can affect the ability to carry out day-to-day activities.
- Such disorders are life-threatening illnesses that pave the way for numerous medical complications to take root.
Important Facts About Eating Disorders
- Eating disorders are serious mental health conditions. Such disorders are bio-psychosocial diseases that can seriously impact one’s health, productivity, and relationship. They are real, complex mental conditions that can pose a significant threat to life if it gets out of hand.
- They are not women-specific disorders. Men and women both have insecurities about the way they look, which can contribute to the development of an eating disorder, although more women than men are afflicted with eating disorders.
- They can affect all aspects of life. An eating disorder can ruin one’s life. It can impact the relationships with family members, friends, and coworkers. It can also lower one’s performance in education and at work. Individuals with eating disorders can experience their thoughts, emotions, attitudes, and behaviors to be revolving only around their weight and food.
- Individuals with such disorders cannot just get over it. One cannot simply choose to eat right to cure an eating disorder. Such disorders affect people’s perceptions regarding their body image that tend to dictate their habits and behavior, and these aspects cannot change overnight. Even the treatment for eating disorders concentrates on altering one’s thoughts and behaviors over the course of time.
- Eating is more sophisticated for individuals with eating disorders. Such individuals tend to scrutinize the type of food they eat and how they consume it. Eating less portion of food can take even longer than those without any eating disorders because they introspect how the food will affect their figure. Sometimes, such thoughts can be overwhelming.
- They are life-threatening problems. Mortality rates for anorexia nervosa are the highest among any psychiatric disorder. It is 12 times higher than all the causes of death for females aged between 15 and 24 years.
The line of treatment for eating disorders depends on the patient’s bio-psychosocial assessment. Care can be provided in specialized health care facilities under the supervision of experts like therapists, dieticians, psychiatrists, and primary care physicians. Eating disorders can impact various aspects of one’s life and can make people susceptible to other physical health conditions, so you should not delay the treatment, or things can worsen with time.