Eating disorders are serious and sometimes fatal diseases that can greatly affect not only a person’s eating behavior, but his or her emotions and relationships. They can be related to or lead to other mental health and substance use disorders as well. If someone obsesses over food, body weight, or how they look physically, they might have an eating disorder—though, eating disorders can be unrelated to body image issues or body dysmorphia. At Our Solutions, we offer eating disorder treatment for common disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, male eating disorders, and compulsive overeating; as well as complementary nutritional services, sex therapy, dual diagnosis, and addiction recovery services.
People with anorexia nervosa often see themselves as overweight, even when they are extremely underweight. Among all mental health disorders, anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate—including committing suicide.
People with bulimia nervosa regularly binge on extremely large quantities of food, and then follow this behavior with forced vomiting, laxatives or diuretics, fasting, unrelenting exercise, and other methods to purge themselves. They are usually of a normal weight, so the symptoms of this disorder are not often visible.
People with binge-eating disorder (BED) can’t control their eating and eat compulsively without purging afterward—thus, they are usually overweight or obese. Binge-eating disorder is not the same as compulsive overeating, but they are related.
Signs of an Eating Disorder
There are definitive signs of an eating disorder, and each illness varies in its presented symptoms.
Symptoms of anorexia can include:
- Repeatedly weighing oneself
- Restricted eating
- Extreme thinness or extreme pursuit of thinness
- Intense fear of gaining weight
- Distorted body image or self-esteem
Symptoms of bulimia and binge eating disorder can include:
- Eating very large amounts of food, fast (in a short period of time)
- Eating when you’re not hungry or feel very full
- Eating alone or hiding your binge episodes
- Feeling guilty about your eating
- Frequent dieting
Effects of an Eating Disorder
Eating disorders can negatively affect behavior, relationships, and health. Health-related effects of eating disorders vary depending on the type of disorder.
Effects of anorexia can include:
- Thinning of the bones, brittle hair, and dry or yellow skin
- Anemia, weakness
- Growth of fine hair all over the body
- Feeling cold all the time
- Negative changes in the menstrual cycle, or infertility
Effects of bulimia can include:
- Inflamed and/or sore throat
- Swollen salivary glands
- Tooth decay
- Acid reflux or other gastrointestinal issues
- Abuse of laxatives
Serious side effects can range from severe dehydration and imbalanced electrolytes—which can lead to a heart attack or stroke— to organ failure, death by starvation, or suicide.
When to Seek Treatment for an Eating Disorder
If you think you or a family member is suffering from an eating disorder and is showing signs and effects of a distorted or harmful relationship with food and eating, it is time to contact Our Solutions for a treatment consultation. All communication is confidential.