The Basics: Eating Disorders
Our society has become increasingly obsessed with weight and physical appearance, and more and more people have tried some kind of diet at one time or another. It is important to distinguish between “normal” dieting or body consciousness and eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.
A person with anorexia is significantly underweight but still worries about being or becoming fat. In contrast, a person with bulimia is often at normal weight for their age and height, so those closest to them may not realize that anything is wrong. Eating disorders can cause serious, and potentially fatal, medical problems that affect the heart, brain, and other body organs. It is important to know that men can have these disorders too, although they are much more common in women.
You Should Know
- Eating disorders often begin during high school or college.
- As many as 10% of women and 1% of men suffer from an eating disorder.
- Bulimia is more common than anorexia.
- Anorexia can co-occur with other disorders, most commonly depression, social phobia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- The successful treatment of eating disorders includes addressing both their emotional and physical symptoms.
- It is estimated that as many as one in 10 people with anorexia will die from complications of the disorder.
Signs and Symptoms
- Weighing 15% or more below normal body weight
- Weight loss, sometimes by means of self-induced vomiting, abuse of laxatives or diuretics, or excessive exercise
- Intense fear of gaining weight
- Anxious or ritualistic behavior at mealtimes
- Seeing oneself as overweight no matter how underweight
- Wearing clothes to avoid others seeing their bodies
- Menstrual changes or the absence of menstruation in women
- Repeatedly eating larger than normal amounts of food in a short period of time and feeling unable to control this behavior (binging)
- Preventing weight gain after a binge by means of self-induced vomiting, abuse of laxatives or enemas (purging); fasting; or excessive exercise
- Unhealthy focus on body shape and weight
- Discolored teeth and gums
- Increased use of alcohol and substances (bulimia can co-occur with alcohol and drug abuse)
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- Finding Help Off Campus
- Finding Help On Campus
- Getting Help
- Keep Stress in Check
- Medical Leave of Absence
- Mental Health Conditions: Privacy and Telling Others
- Preventing Suicide
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- The Basics: Bipolar Disorder
- The Basics: Alcohol and Drug Dependence and Abuse
- The Basics: Anxiety Disorders
- The Basics: Depression
- The Basics: Eating Disorders
- The Basics: Schizophrenia
- The Basics: Self-Injury (Cutting)
- The Negative Effects of Stress
- Three Important Guidelines for Transitioning with a Diagnosed Condition
- Transferring Treatment to College
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- What Every Student Needs to Know
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- Your First Counseling Appointment: Questions to Ask