Everyone wants to look good in a bathing suit, but when fretting over your appearance turns into an obsession, an eating disorder may be occurring, and it must be taken seriously; without an eating disorder treatment, it can turn deadly.
For information on local eating disorder treatment programs, call The Way Out at 1-877-929-6887.
Eating disorders affect millions of Americans
According to the American Journal of Psychiatry, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate among mental illnesses. Upwards of 24 million people suffer from eating disorders in the United States. Roughly 20% of people suffering from anorexia will prematurely die from complications related to the disorder, which include suicide and heart problems.
There are three main types of eating disorders:
- Anorexia nervosa: sufferers are so determined to lose weight that they starve themselves, which also starves the body of essential nutrients. Over time, anorexia can lead to liver or kidney failure.
- Bulimia nervosa: characterized by a vicious cycle of binge-eating and purging achieved through vomiting or the use of laxative/diuretic products.
- Binge-eating disorder: repeated binge-eating episodes during which a person loses control over his or her eating. Unlike bulimia, binge-eating episodes are not followed by purging. Binge eaters are often overweight or obese, and they may feel guilty or ashamed about their compulsive eating — a guilt that then leads to further binge-eating.
Warning Signs of Eating Disorders
- Preoccupation with weight, food, calories, fat grams and dieting
- Evidence of binge-eating, such as the disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods of time, or the sight of a large amount of used-up food wrappers or containers
- Excessive exercise and/or a fixation on working out despite weather, fatigue illness or injury.
- Discoloration or staining of the teeth, or unusual swelling of the cheeks or jaw area/calluses on the back of the hands and knuckles may indicate self-induced vomiting
- “Food rituals” such as eating foods in certain orders, excessive chewing or rearranging food on a plate
Consequences of Eating Disorders
In the United States alone, eating disorders lead to $5-6 billion in direct medical costs each year, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. Without eating disorders treatment, individual sufferers are at risk of the following consequences:
- Anorexia: self-starvation forces the body to slow down its processes to conserve energy, potentially leading to abnormally slow heart rate, low blood pressure and severe dehydration; some anorexics will form a downy layer of hair called “lanugo” all over the body and face, which is a result of the body trying to keep warm; anorexics are 18x more likely to die early compared to people of similar age in the general population, according to Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America.
- Bulimia: electrolyte and chemical imbalances due to the recurrent binge-and-purge cycles, which can lead to irregular heartbeats, heart failure or death; frequent vomiting can also cause tooth decay and rupture of the esophagus.
- Binge eating: same health complications as those suffering from obesity, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and Type II diabetes.
Eating disorders have been linked to the use of drugs and alcohol
For a long time, substance abuse and eating disorders were thought of as two separate animals, but a study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse has shattered that myth. Among other findings, the study showed that up to 35% of alcohol or illicit drug abusers have eating disorders, compared to 3% of the general population.
- Girls with eating disorder symptoms are almost 4x more likely to use inhalants and cocaine.
- Female bulimics who are also alcoholics report a higher rate of suicide attempts, anxiety and personality disorders than bulimic women who are not alcoholics.
- As many as one million males suffer from an eating disorder; gay and bisexual males are at increased risk of such disorders.
The Way Out offers dual diagnosis drug rehab that simultaneously addresses eating disorders along with alcoholism or drug addiction. The comprehensive approach that tackles both is essential, and recommended by eating disorder experts; treating only one-half of a client’s needs can lead to an unsuccessful recovery.
If you feel your loved one must be placed in a rehabilitation treatment center for an eating disorder, please call 888-373-5963 or fill out a patient placement form and The Way Out Recovery will aid in placement.