According to the National Institute of Mental Health an estimated 0.5 percent to 3.7 percent of females suffer from anorexia, and an estimated 1.1 percent to 4.2 percent suffer from bulimia, and between 2 percent and 5 percent of Americans experience binge-eating disorder. Among females ages 15-24 with eating disorders, the mortality rate is 12 times higher than the annual death rate due to all causes of death in the general population.
In addition to the radically high death rate, eating patterns of people with these disorders cause serious medical complications including those listed here:
Acid Reflux Disorders Amenorrhea - Loss of Menstrual Cycle Arthritis Bad Circulation Cancer-Throat, Esophogus Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Cramps, Bloating, Constipation, Diarrhea, Dehydration Dental Problems, Decalcification of teeth, Erosion of Tooth Enamel, Severe Decay, Gum Disease Depression Digestive Difficulties Disruptions in Blood Sugar Levels Dry Skin and Hair, Brittle Hair and Nails, Hair Loss Easily Bruising Skin Edema Electrolyte Imbalances Gastric Rupture Gastrointestinal Bleeding Heart Arrhythmias High Blood Pressure Hormone Imbalances/Deficiencies Hyponatremia Impaired Neuromuscular Function Incontinence Infertility Insomnia Kidney Infection and Failure Lanugo Liver Failure Low Blood Pressure/Hypotension Low Platelet Count Lowered body temperature Malnutrition Muscle Atrophy Osteoporosis Pancreatitis Peptic Ulcers Seizures Swelling in Face and Cheeks (following self-induced vomiting) Tearing of Esophagus Transient (or temporary) Paralysis Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies Weakness and Fatigue
As stated in publications from the National Eating Disorders Association, eating disorders arise from a variety of causes, including social pressure, emotional imbalance, lack of self-esteem and body chemistry. In fact, scientists continue to research biochemical and biological causes of eating disorders, and have identified imbalances in chemicals that control hunger, appetite, and digestion in the brains of some patients with eating disorders. The meaning of these imbalances continues to be studied.
Regardless of the underlying cause, once started eating disorders create a self-perpetuating cycle of physical and emotional destruction. All eating disorders require professional help.
The information below will help you to determine if you or someone you know has an eating disorder. Because of the serious health consequences and difficulties in treatment, early recognition and treatment improve chances for full recovery.
Anorexia is a pattern of self-imposed starvation. The causes may be psychological, biological or social, but food itself is not the cause. Early detection and treatment are necessary to prevent permanent damage to the heart, reproductive organs, and other internal organs.It can be recognized by the following behavioral, emotional and physical symptoms:
Preoccupation with food and dieting Excessive physical activity with the goal of burning calories Withdrawal from friends and family because of focus on weight loss Overuse of laxatives to lose weight Refusal to maintain body weight at or above a minimally normal weight Intense fear of weight gain or being “fat” Feeling “fat” or overweight despite dramatic weight loss
Lack of self esteem Depression Thoughts about suicide Denial of an underweight condition Desire to still lose more weight
Extreme weight loss Absence of menstruation Cavities and gum disease Extreme sensitivity to cold Hair, nail and skin problems
Bulimia is characterized by a secretive cycle of eating large amounts of food–more than most people would eat in one meal–in short periods of time, then getting rid of the food and calories through vomiting, laxative abuse, or over-exercising. Some of the same symptoms are present as with anorexia, and many anoretics add symptoms of bulimia as an alternative way of controlling weight. In addition to those listed above, symptoms include :
Purchase of large quantities of food Repeated episodes of binging and purging Feeling out of control during a binge Eating beyond the point of comfortable fullness Self-induced vomiting Abuse of laxatives, diet pills and diuretics Excessive exercise Fasting Frequent dieting Extreme concern with body shape Secretive behavior regarding eating habits Weight fluctuations Depression Denial of the problem Fear of discovery Problem with alcohol and drugs
Binge Eating Disorder (also known as Compulsive Overeating)
Binge eating is characterized by periods of uncontrolled, impulsive, or continuous eating beyond the point of feeling comfortably full. While there is no purging, there may be sporadic fasts or repetitive diets and often feelings of shame or self-hatred after a binge. People who overeat compulsively may struggle with anxiety, depression, and loneliness, which can contribute to their unhealthy episodes of binge eating. Body weight may vary from normal to mild, moderate, or severe obesity.
If any of these descriptions fit you or someone you know, seek professional help. For more information, click on the following links: