Eating Disorders

Eating disorders include extreme emotions and behaviors with relation to weight and food issues. This illness can have life-threatening consequences. It does not affect one gender necessarily, it happens to both males and females. There are many different types of disorders within this disease. The disorders include Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating Disorder. Eating disorders can have serious consequences for relationships, health and productivity. People with this disease tend to focus on weigh and food so much that sometimes they forget everything else. This disease affects at least 10 million Americans, especially in teenage years for girls and young women. Statistics show that between 10 and 50 percent of American college women report having an eating disorder to control their weight. College is a period of excitement, full of opportunities but it also comes with a lot of stress and pressure. While it seems like eating disorders are about food, weight, eating and exercise it includes more psychological or emotional issues like anxiety, low self-esteem, and perfectionism, depression, and relationship problems. College is a place where physical appearances are emphasized. Disorders arise from social, cultural, genetic, and psychological risk factors. There is no immunity as to who gets the disease, no matter of gender, racial or sexual orientation.
Anorexia Nervosa: it is often referred to as self-starvation. It has the highest death rates of mental health conditions; it affects about 1 percent of adolescent females in the USA. People with this disease are obsessed with being skinny. About 90-95% of anorexia nervosa occurs to girls and women. Between 5-25% of individuals with this disorder will die.
Some of the symptoms that come with the disorder include:
  • Loss of menstrual periods.
  • Disturbance in body weight or shape
  • Fear of gaining weight.
  • 021211_EatingDisorders-ftr.jpgIncreases heart risks
There are many warning signs that college students should pay attention to. Some of the signs are:
  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Food worries like calories, dieting.
  • Refusal to eat some foods
  • Comments about feeling overweight
  • Anxiety about gaining weight
  • Denial of hunger
  • Avoiding mealtimes
  • Excessive exercise
Since the body is denied of nutrients because of the dieting, it can have serious consequences like:
  • Muscle loss
  • Dehydration which can result on kidney failure
  • Dry hair, skin, hair loss
  • Fatigue and weakness

Bulimia Nervosa: in this disorder people tend to self-induce vomiting to undo the effects of binge eating. People will binge and then purge. Some people eat a large amount of food and then excessive exercise. People with this disorder might be at a normal weight or a bit overweight. Some others might abuse laxatives and diuretics. Bulimia nervosa usually affects approximately 2% adolescent Americans. 80% of bulimia patients are women but many people struggling with this disorder recognize that their behaviors are unusual. This disorder is frequently associated with depression and changes in social adjustment.
There are many symptoms caused by bulimia:
  • Large amount of food accompanied by a sense of loss of control over eating.
  • Inappropriate compensatory behaviors like self-induced vomiting, laxatives or diuretic abuse and excessive exercise.
  • Concern with body shape and weight.
Some of the signs include:
  • Disappearance of large amounts of food in short amount of time.
  • Evidence of purging behaviors
  • Excessive exercise amounts, trying to burn off calories
  • Swelling of the cheeks or jaw
  • Calluses on the hands from the self-induced vomiting
  • Staining of the teeth
  • Rituals to make time for eating and purging
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Weight loss
This disorder has some serious consequences like:
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Inflammation and maybe rupture of the esophagus from vomiting
  • Tooth decay
  • Chronic irregular bowel movements
  • Gastric rupture
Binge Eating Disorder: it affects approximately two million Americans. It is characterized by a quick consumption of food. People in this disorder say they want to stop eating but they cannot because of the internal struggle and a loss of control. After eating binge eaters feel guilty or disgusted with themselves. People with this behavior do not compensate for their eating. They eat even if they are not hungry even after they are full. They might be overweight or obese or even a normal weight. It’s estimated that this disorder affects 5% of the general population. 60% of people struggling are women and 40% are males. It is often associated with depression.
Some of the symptoms for binge eating include:
  • Eating large amounts of food in a short period of time.1236444386462.gif
  • Feeling powerless over eating
  • Feeling depression, guilty, disgust after eating
  • Eating even when not hungry
There of course are many consequences that come with this disorder:
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Gallbladder problems
  • Musculoskeletal problems


Eating disorders can arise by a combination of emotional, psychological, interpersonal, and social factors. It is more than just about the food. People try to cope with feelings and emotions that can be overwhelming. Although people might be trying to cope with something by having an eating disorder they might not realize that this is damaging a person’s physical and emotional health as well as their self-esteem and the sense of competence and control. Another cause can be the biological factors. Many people might also suffer from body dimorphic disorder which is when a person sees his or her self-different from what they actually look like. Other causes can be environmental or interpersonal issues. Some of the psychological factors are low self-esteem, feelings of low control, depression, anxiety, anger, stress or loneliness. Some of the interpersonal factors are troubled relationships, difficulty expressing emotions, being bullied, having physical or sexual abuse. Social factors also influence people with eating disorders because of what society thinks a woman or a man should look like. Girls in college want to look like Victoria Secret models while the guys want to look like Channing Tatum. Eating disorders can sometimes be linked to genetics.

There are many different treatments for eating disorders. Since there is not enough evidence of eating disorders, treatments are usually based on clinical experience. Doctors like a psychiatrist play an important role on treatments. There are many ways in which they can be treated but the most effective ones include psychotherapy or counseling coupled with medication and nutritional needs. Patients might also be educated on better choices and on nutritional needs. Hospitalization might sometimes be needed. Treatments tend to vary depending on each individual.
If you or someone you know suffers from an eating disorder there is hope and help available. Treatments are available in the closest hospital. The toll free, confidential helpline is 1-800-931-2237. There is no need to risk a life when there is help. This is not an uncommon disease in a college so please do not be afraid to help someone or look for help.


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