We just recently recognized National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. While roughly 50 percent of people in the United States either know someone suffering from an eating disorder or have experienced a disorder themselves, many people are unaware of what constitutes an eating disorder, and how it impacts individuals.
Eating disorders range from anorexia nervosa, a pattern of eating characterized by extreme calorie restriction and low body weight, to bulimia nervosa, in which people typically feel guilt or shame after eating and engage in purging.
Individuals suffering from acute, active eating disorder symptoms should seek treatment at a facility specializing in eating disorders. However, it is not uncommon for individuals to have an eating disorder and also be suffering from a mental health diagnosis, such as depression or anxiety. These might include feeling shame or guilt about eating and weight, or even calorie restriction and/or purging.
Watch: Warning Signs of Eating Disorders
Roughly 25 percent of college-aged women admit to purging after eating to control their weight. Additionally, more than 10 percent of women over age 50 report engaging in eating disordered behaviors—but only 3 percent of the total US population meet criteria for an eating disorder.
An evaluation by a primary care provider or a qualified mental health professional can help determine the right type of treatment for someone experiencing eating disorder symptoms.
For more information about Eating Disorders, visit http://nedawareness.org/
Katie Adams, LICSW, is the director of outpatient mental health services at Harrington HealthCare System.