Thanks to inaccurate media representations and societal beliefs, many people don’t realize the severity of eating disorders in our country. It’s easy to envision a young girl starving herself when thinking of these conditions, but the reality of these illnesses is much more complex. The one constant that remains, though, is that these disorders present a serious health risk.
Transformations at Mending Fences offers treatment plans that focus on individual needs. No one experiences eating disorders in the same way, and due to the potential for dual diagnosis, treatment needs can vary immensely. The following information will help you become more informed on these conditions, but if you or a loved one needs help, reach out to us immediately.
There are several illnesses that fall under the umbrella of eating disorders. While each will vary by symptoms and severity, they all present as extreme disturbances in an individual’s eating patterns. For some people, this could mean severely limiting their caloric intake. For others, the problem may involve uncontrolled binge eating followed by purging behaviors.
Regardless of how these mental health disorders affect a person, the outcome always has potential for disaster. In addition to the bodily harm caused by these activities, eating disorders also have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Anorexia nervosa contributes largely to this statistic with its 10 percent estimated mortality rate.
At least 9 percent of Americans will develop such a disorder at some point. This makes the misconception of the extremely thin victim dangerous. While anorexia is a serious concern, over 94 percent of individuals with eating disorders never receive an underweight diagnosis. This makes it imperative to avoid societal misconceptions when deciding whether treatment is appropriate.
Understanding that no “typical” victim exists with these conditions helps to better understand them. To fully grasp the severity of the problem, though, it’s important to identify every type of eating disorder. While some experts group certain process addictions into this category (e.g. eating metal or hair), three eating disorders make up the most common.
Anorexia nervosa presents as a persistent reduction in the amount of food a person eats, and this results in a dangerously low body weight. Among disorders involving unhealthy eating behaviors, anorexia nervosa has the lowest lifetime prevalence rate. When the disorder does occur, though, it’s particularly devastating.
Anorexia can cause irreparable harm to the body. Additionally, it’s victims have a distorted body view that only worsens the illness. The condition can be fatal due to starvation, metabolic collapse and even suicide. Comorbidity and common co-occurring disorders can increase the risk of self-harm.
Bulimia nervosa has a slightly higher lifetime prevalence rate than anorexia. It’s characterized by instances of binge eating that precede behaviors meant to compensate for overeating. These compensatory actions include excessive exercising, fasting and purging behaviors such as self-induced vomiting and abuse of laxatives.
Because of the binging aspect of this eating disorder, victims can fall within normal body weight ranges. They still experience feelings of shame about their bodies, though, and have an unhealthy fear of putting on weight. While the rate of suicide is highest among anorexia sufferers, the suicide attempt rate is higher for those with bulimia.
When a person engages in binge eating but doesn’t follow up with purging behavior, they suffer from binge eating disorder. Binging involves a loss of control over eating excessive amounts of food. Since there is no compensatory action following these consumption events, individuals with the condition are typically overweight.
No psychiatric illness has a one-size-fits-all treatment plan. Because of the complexities of the diseases, this is particularly true for eating disorders. The underlying causes of the conditions can vary drastically, and dual diagnoses occur frequently in these situations. Anxiety disorders make up the most common comorbid illnesses.
Various claims exist regarding treatments for eating disorders, but research has shown us what’s most effective. If you or a loved one is suffering from any of these illnesses, the treatment plan is likely to involve one or more of the following:
Transformations at Mending Fences offers these options, but you’ll also find other eating disorder treatments available. These include equine therapy, anxiety management, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), yoga classes and more. An effective treatment plan requires an individualized approach, so offering a variety of therapies increases the chance of success.
The seriousness of eating disorders often goes overlooked. This is particularly the case for those who suffer from these conditions without drastic changes in their weight. For individuals grappling with these issues, though, the potential risks couldn’t get more serious. An effective treatment plan can help avoid serious health complications.
Transformations at Mending Fences has a staff of certified professionals committed to ending the pain caused by eating disorders. Every client brings their own baggage, diagnoses, goals and dreams. This is exactly why we create individualized treatment plans to target each client’s needs. Contact us today to learn how we can help you overcome this hurdle.
National Library of Medicine
National Institute of Mental Health
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
Suicide Prevention Resource Center
Australian Family Physician