Eating disorders are NOT a diet gone wrong. They are a complex set of symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to live healthfully. Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge eating disorders are marked by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior regarding food, weight, body shape and size. A person with an eating disorder will often have unrealistic, self-critical thoughts about their body and the idea of perfection. It is a pervasive illness that affects one’s ability to function interpersonally, psychologically, and medically.
Like other mental illnesses, the exact cause of an eating disorder is unknown. Multiple factors such as genetics, psychological and emotional issues, media and culture are thought to contribute. People who develop eating disorders do not usually perceive their behaviors as harmful. Most people develop an eating disorder as a means of coping. The preoccupation with food and weight allows for distraction from what otherwise feels too painful or out of control to confront.
Eating disorders affect the brains’ ability to function due to starvation, over eating, and dependence on food. Like other addictions this can result in irritability, depression, and anxiety. About half of all people with eating disorders meet clinical criteria for depression
Psychiatric conditions commonly co-existing with eating disorders may include:
- bipolar disorder
- borderline personality disorder
- obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- panic and anxiety disorders
- post-traumatic stress disorder
- substance abuse disorders
Warning Signs of an Eating Disorder
- Alterations in Weight
- Changes in Exercise Patterns
- Disruptions in Eating Patterns
- Mood Fluctuations
- Physical Symptoms
- Preoccupation with Body Image
- Preoccupation with Nutritional Content
- Use of Laxatives, Diuretics, and Diet Pills
Eating disorders can be successfully treated, especially when they are caught early. The gold standard of eating disorder treatment is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Because an eating disorder not only affects the person emotionally, nutritional counseling is recommended to normalize the patterns of eating and/or restore a health weight. Most eating disorder professionals adopt a team approach working closely together to best serve the client. An appropriate treatment team includes a therapist specializing in the treatment of eating disorders, a nutritionist, a psychiatrist, and a medical doctor.
- A person with an eating disorder is four times more likely to suffer from a co-occurring substance abuse disorder than the general population
- 95% of those who suffer from an eating disorder are between the ages of 12-25 years old
- 25% of college-age women engage in binging and purging behavior
- The mortality rate for Anorexia Nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate for all causes of death for women 15-24 years old
- Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate than all other mental illnesses
- 10-15% of those who have Anorexia and Bulimia are male
- Men are less likely to seek treatment because the perception is that it is a “women’s disease”
- Among gay men, nearly 14% suffer from Bulimia and over 20% from Anorexia
- Elite athletes have a significantly higher rate (20%) of eating disorders due to high expectations of self and competitiveness
For more information on how the Philadelphia eating disorder counselors at Dr. Alyson Nerenberg Psychology Associates, PC can help you, call 610-331-7303 or contact us online. We are committed to serving patients throughout Philadelphia and its surrounding areas, including Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County and Montgomery County.
*Retrieved February 10, 2014 from http://www.anad.org/