Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that have genetic, biological, and psychological beginnings. While these disorders are serious they are treatable. With the correct therapies, someone with an eating disorder can recover and lead a long and happy life. Without treatment the prognosis is much bleaker. These points, and others, are the focus of this list from Psych2Go.
1. Women aren’t the only ones who can have an eating disorder
Roughly 10 million men will suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime. While men suffer from anorexia and bulimia, they tend to suffer from binge eating more. Any man can suffer from an eating disorder though there is an exponentially higher probability if the man participates in certain sports. Those who participate in football, wrestling, or bodybuilding have a huge pressure to make weight for a specific match. This not only contributes to binge eating, it also counts for many of the men who diet in unsafe ways. Putting on or taking off a large amount of weight in a short period of time can have major health complications.
2. Pre-teens can be affected too
One study followed a group of 12-year-old girls for eight years. Within those years the researchers found that 5.2% met the DSM criteria for anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder. The researches then decided to extend the eating disorder label to encompass non-specified eating disorders. They found that the numbers more than doubled to 13.2%. No risk factors were presented so we are left to speculate about the trigger.
3. Eating disorders are all consuming to the sufferer
Those who suffer from eating disorders often present with obsessive thoughts about food. This might center around the amount of food, the calorie content, or how many meals they have already eaten. Someone who suffers from an eating disorder will have obsessive thoughts about what the food will do to their body. This is not a health food kind of obsession. This is an obsession about how the smallest amount of food might affect the way they look. There will be days where nothing but food will cross the mind of someone with an eating disorder.
4. Eating disorders can have emotional triggers
Someone who is depressed might find themselves binge eating their favorite comfort foods. A student who is unable to control their academic life might find themselves restricting their food. Someone who has just gone through a breakup might have low on self-esteem. They may eat anything they can get their hands on then promptly throw it up. Anxiety, anger, and loneliness are known contributors to eating disorders as well.
5. There is no way to just “get over” and eating disorder
While it might make sense to think “just eat something” or “have self control” they just aren’t realistic. Eating disorders, no matter what kind, need therapy and possibly in-patient treatment depending on the severity. These are not mind over matter illnesses. “Being tough” doesn’t help the sufferer and can only cause more harm.
6. The statistics can be staggering
Looking at percentages can give a misunderstanding of just how how many people suffer from eating disorders. What is staggering is the fact that roughly 30 million people, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from one form of eating disorder or another. This translates to 1 in 20 women and 1 in 40 men. Up to 20% of women have also admitted to having unhealthy eating and dieting habits. This is outside of the 20 million that have a diagnosed eating disorder.
7. Eating disorders can be fatal
As much as 20% of those with eating disorders will die without treatment. The mortality rate for those seeking treatment is much lower, but still there. Even when an eating disorder isn’t fatal it can have long lasting implications on the sufferer’s health. Loss of bone density, heart complications, gastrointestinal issues, and infertility are all on that list. Those that binge and purge can also have scarring of their throat and vocal cords from the acid coming from their stomach. Therefore, while not all who suffer from eating disorders will die it is safe to say that the repercussions can be dire.
Do you know some other facts about eating disorders? Psych2Go invites you to drop those in the comments below.
Other reading from Psych2Go:
“Eating Disorder Facts & Myths.” The Center for Eating Disorders, Sheppard Pratt Health System, 2015, eatingdisorder.org/eating-disorder-information/facts-myths/. Retrieved November 13, 2017
“What Are Eating Disorders?” National Eating Disorders Association, National Eating Disorders Association , 2016, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/general-information/what-are-eating-disorders. Retrieved November 13, 2017