Learn About Eating Disorders and Their Role in Addiction
An eating disorder is so much more than an individual deciding to change his or her eating habits. In reality, eating disorders are a mental illness characterized by an unhealthy obsession with weight, body image and diet. In some cases, eating disorders can have life-threatening effects.
According to data collected by the Eating Disorders Coalition, at least 30 million Americans will suffer an eating disorder during their lifetime. Unfortunately, only a third of those afflicted will seek treatment. Even worse, despite being very dangerous, eating disorders can be difficult to identify.
Learn more about these serious medical problems in case you suspect you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder.
When an individual loses control of their eating to the point that it begins to interfere with daily life, he or she is likely suffering from binge-eating disorder. Unlike other eating disorders, binge-eating disorder is not followed by a purging period. As a result, most individuals dealing with binge-eating disorder are obese or overweight.
Other symptoms of binge-eating disorder include:
- Eating to the point of discomfort
- Feeling anxiety during and after meals
- Eating large amounts of food in short periods of time
- Eating in secret
Anorexia nervosa is characterized by an obsession with being perceived as overweight. Those suffering from anorexia will do anything in their power to lose weight, even if they themselves are already dangerously malnourished. As a result, anorexia is the most deadly eating disorder. Suicide is also common among anorexia victims whose mental illness goes untreated.
Symptoms and long-term side-effects of anorexia nervosa include:
- Distorted body image
- Unhealthy fasting
- Organ failure
- Brain damage
Bulimia nervosa is similar to binge-eating disorder in that individuals suffering from this disorder lose control over their eating habits. Those struggling with bulimia even participate in many of the same binge-eating activities as someone with binge-eating disorder.
The main difference between the two mental illnesses is that those with bulimia feel compelled to compensate for their eating with excessive vomiting, laxative abuse or an extreme exercise regimen.
Bulimia has its own set of life-threatening symptoms, which include:
- Extreme dehydration
- Necrotic tooth decay
- Acid reflux disorder
- Stroke or heart attack (via electrolyte imbalance)
Addiction and Eating Disorder Treatment
One of the reasons that eating disorders are so deadly is because most people feel ashamed to talk about them. The reality is that eating disorders are dangerous mental illnesses that can affect anyone, regardless of age or gender.
Eating disorders become even more deadly when they are co-occurring with another form of mental illness, such as substance use disorder. Many individuals with an eating disorder turn to alcohol or drugs as misguided way of trying to treat their own mental illness.
When this happens, multiple co-occurring disorders make each individual health issue more difficult to treat. This is why The Treatment Center of the Palm Beaches has sought out some of the country’s foremost experts in co-occurring disorders treatment in order to help our patients recover from addiction and mental health issues.
Don’t delay if you or a loved one has displayed the symptoms of an eating disorder or a dual diagnosis. Our admissions counselors are available 24/7 and can be reached by phone at (866) 295-6003.