It seems like most of us struggle with our body image at some point during our life. Maybe you think that your hair is too curly, your thighs are too big or your biceps aren’t big enough. For some individuals, this general concern develops into an eating disorder – but what is an eating disorder?
Specialists at HPA/LiveWell, which serve the greater Albany, NY and Pougkeepsie NY areas, can help those with eating disorders to better understand and treat this condition.
What is an Eating Disorder?
Eating disorder definition: a set of physical and psychological problems surrounding weight and food issues. An eating disorder is a serious medical condition related to eating behaviors that can negatively impact an individual’s emotional and physical health.
Eating disorders affect males and females of all ages, but is especially common among the youth and young adult populations. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, eating disorders affect approximately 1 in 5 people in the U.S., including people of all ages and genders.
Eating Disorder Statistics
According to the National Eating Disorder Association:
- 30 million Americans will experience an eating disorder during their lifetime
- Women are three times more likely to experience an eating disorder than men
- Eating disorders occur evenly across all races
- The death rate for individuals suffering from anorexia nervosa are 6 times more than the general population
What Are the Types of Eating Disorders?
The three most commonly diagnosed eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.
Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by an obsession with food, eating, and weight control. Individuals with this condition will often perceive themselves as being overweight, even if they are in fact underweight. These individuals often have extremely low body weight, intense fear of weight gain, and food restrictions.
Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa:
- Brittle hair and nails
- Dry skin
- Low blood pressure
Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by recurrent and frequent episodes of eating large amounts of foods followed by behaviors that compensate for the excess food intake. These behaviors include vomiting, laxative use, excessive exercise and fasting. Unlike those with anorexia nervosa, individuals with bulimia nervosa often maintain a healthy weight. These individuals desire to lose weight, fear gaining weight, or are extremely unhappy with the current state of their body.
Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa:
- Swollen salivary glands
- Persistent sore throat
- Worn tooth enamel
Binge Eating Disorder is characterized by periods of excessive eating. Unlike individuals with bulimia nervosa, these individuals do not use behaviors such as vomiting or laxative to compensate for the increased food intake. Due to increased caloric intake individuals with binge eating disorder are often overweight or obese.
Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder:
- Rapidly eating large amounts of food
- Inability to stop eating even when full
- Hiding food to eat later
- Embarrassment over eating habits
Eating Disorder Treatment
Treatment for eating disorders is individualized based on the needs of the individual. Treatment goals may include bringing body weight to a stable, healthy level, normalizing exercise regimens or reinstating normal eating behaviors.
Eating Disorder Treatment Options include:
- Individual or group therapy
- Family therapy
- Medical care
- Nutrition counseling
For some individuals hospitalization may be needed to treat the physical complications of an eating disorder.
The great news is that complete recovery from an eating disorder is achievable!
Click here to learn more about eating disorders, treatment options and how HPA/LiveWell can help.
If the symptoms above match the behaviors of yourself or a loved one, call the HPA/LiveWell in Albany, NY at 518-218-1188 or in Pougkeepsie, NY at 845-372-4367. The HPA/LiveWell mental health staff can help you create a unique treatment plan to treat your eating disorder and help you regain control of your life!