Thursday, September 8th, 2011
Millions of Americans suffer from eating disorders, known as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS). An estimated 90% + are adolescent and young women, though men and adults suffer from eating disorders as well. Eating disorders have serious mental and physical health consequences including death. In fact anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. (http://www.eatingdisorderscoalition.org/documents/TalkingpointsEatingDisordersFactSheet.pdf)
A Quick Look at Eating Disorders
Eating Disorders refer to a group of conditions defined by abnormal eating habits that may involve either insufficient or excessive food intake to the detriment of an individual’s physical and mental health. Bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and binge eating disorder are the most common specific forms in the United States.
Anorexia nervosa. This eating disorder is characterized by a person’s refusal to maintain a healthy body weight and often co-occurs with a fear of gaining weight.
Bulimia nervosa. This is often marked by bingeing and then trying to get rid of the food by taking laxatives or inducing vomiting.
Complications by disorder-
Eating disorders have a serious effect on one’s health and wellbeing. The risk of death for anorexia and bulimia patients can be significant.
Anorexia complications. Among eating disorders, anorexia has many serious effects which may result in death. The death risks are even more pronounced for people who are: young, prone to sickness within the last 6 years or so, already low in weight at the time of the anorexia treatment, and those who also engage in behaviors such as purging, and also have a severe psychological or co-occuring disorder.
Some effects of anorexia include; hormonal changes that result in the absence of menstruation (in females), bone loss or osteoporosis, loss of muscle mass and in some, infertility.
Anorexia is also closely linked with heart problems, such as; slowness of the heartbeat- leading to the starvation of heart muscles. Those who have anorexia are also prone to depression, substance abuse and even suicide. One of the other effects of anorexia is an imbalance of the key minerals and electrolytes needed in the body. In anorexia, these electrolyte imbalance often results in organ failure.
Other complications linked with anorexia may include; constipation, bloating, sensitivity to temperatures, hair loss and fine body hair growth.
Bulimia complications. Bulimia also has serious complications, many of which are life-threatening. Complications include problems with digestion (often causing or from developing a dependence on laxatives ), stomach distress, abdominal bloating, acute tooth decay, irregularity or absence of menstruation and heart problems (including heart failure and irregular heartbeat).
Frequent vomiting can cause the rupture of the esophagus. Excessive exercise, laxative abuse or vomiting may also result in severely low levels of potassium that can result in weakness, even to the point of paralysis. Bulimia has been known to cause erratic heart rhythms that can often be fatal.
Bulimia also has psychological complications that lead to self-destructive behavior such as substance abuse or alcohol abuse, as well as impulsive and self-injurious behaviors.
Prompt Action towards Wellness
Due to the complications and severities of these disorders, eating disorders should be taken seriously and prompt action towards the treatment of eating disorders. This is necessary before things become more serious or life threatening. Often, eating disorders are linked to deep-rooted psychological issues and these must be addressed to properly to provide treatment for bulimia, treatment for anorexia and other eating disorder treatment.
Avalon Hills is an eating disorder treatment center that provides a holistic approach towards these eating problems, not just aiming towards treating the symptoms of the disorder, but also the deep-rooted issues that lie behind these. Avalon Hills provides a wealth of experience, information and insights into these complex disorders.
Our program for anorexia and bulimia treatment has a program based on the individual’s needs. The treatment program provides a combination of animal assisted therapy, psychotherapy and other experiential therapies, the program aims to provide the patient with the skills in order to manage and cope with the stress and underlying factors that contributed to their eating disorders.
Given the serious health risks and complications of eating disorders those dealing with these disorders should act promptly and seek eating disorder treatment.