What Is An Eating Disorder?

What Is An Eating Disorder?

Eating disorders are serious conditions, and there’s no easy way to treat them, which makes eating disorder treatment difficult. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, according to an article in The Independent, so it’s important to get help as soon as possible if you suspect that you or someone you know might have an eating disorder, whether it’s bulimia nervosa or another condition like binge eating disorder. What is an eating disorder? This guide covers what eating disorders are, how they affect people who have them, and what treatments are available.

How Common Are Eating Disorders?

Anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder are all serious health conditions. According to statistics from The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), an estimated 0.5% of males and 4% of females in America suffer from bulimia, a type of eating disorder, while 2%-3% of Americans have anorexia nervosa.

How Do We Diagnose An Eating Disorder?

The signs and symptoms of an eating disorder can be highly individualized, making diagnosis somewhat difficult. Depending on their severity, symptoms could affect any aspect of your life, from family to school and work. The first step to getting help may come from simple education: If you believe that you or someone you know may have an eating disorder, start by researching general information about how these conditions present themselves. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with some common characteristics, visit a doctor or mental health professional for a more thorough assessment. 

This person will also be able to recommend potential treatment options. Talk therapy—including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) as well as family-based treatment (FBT)—can prove effective in helping patients learn healthier ways of thinking and acting.

How Are Eating Disorders Treated?

Treatment for these disorders varies and depends on how serious they are. In some cases, you may require hospitalization. If it’s a mild case of anorexia or bulimia, you might simply be given a referral to a mental health specialist who can help with therapy sessions, nutritional counseling, or both.

If it’s moderate or severe, you may need to check into a medical facility right away in order to gain control over your condition. Even if it seems like you don’t want to be helped, remember that everyone needs treatment sometimes; food issues are no different than other ailments. Treating them sooner rather than later could save your life.

Recovery From An Eating Disorder

Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, and compulsive overeating all have one thing in common: They’re maladaptive attempts to deal with emotional trauma. These conditions occur when thoughts and behaviors related to food—or lack thereof—interfere with daily life. However, recovery from these dangerous disorders can be possible through counseling, therapy, and support groups.

It’s also crucial for family members of people struggling with eating disorders to seek help; they need supportive outlets, too. Left untreated, these illnesses often intensify over time, so it’s important that you take any warning signs seriously and seek professional help as soon as possible if you suspect someone you love may be struggling with an eating disorder.