Eating disorders are serious illnesses, not a lifestyle choice. I’m taking this on a different note for a moment, to bring awareness to an important topic. Please join me in Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2014. I understand this is primarily a bipolar disorder blog, but I believe in overall awareness for mental health issues, and would like to take this opportunity to spread some awareness on the issue of eating disorders. On top of that, somebody very close to me has suffered from an eating disorder, so the topic hits a little close to home.
According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), these are the basic characteristics of some of the most common types of eating disorder:
- Restricting food intake to below the requirements for a particular individuals physical requirements
- Intense fear of weight gain and obsession with weight and continual behaviors to prevent weight gain
- Inability to recognize true body shape or recognize the seriousness of condition
- May or may not use binge eating and/or purging behaviors
- Eating an unusually large amount of food at one time followed by compensatory behaviors (such as vomiting, taking laxatives and/or excessive exercise) to prevent weight gain
- A feeling of being out of control during the binge-eating occurrence
- Self-judgment largely based on weight and shape
Binge Eating Disorder:
- Recurrent situations of eating an unusually large amount of food at one time
- A feeling of being out of control during the behavior
- May have feelings of shame or guilt towards eating which can lead to eating alone
- May eat until the individual is beyond full to the point of discomfort
Note: There are several other types of feeding or eating disorders outlined in the DSM-5. Many people may not have every symptom of a disorder, but may still receive a feeding or eating disorder diagnosis.
Eating disorders – such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder can include extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues. It can affect women and men of varying ages and backgrounds. Eating disorders can be triggered by familial or genetic factors, media influences, or even trauma. ED’s are very common among athletes and dancers as well. (about.eatingdisorders.com)
Everyone with an eating disorder is really thin. Although people with anorexia nervosa weigh well below their ideal body weight, this is not true for people with bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder: these sufferers may be at or above their ideal weight range.
Eating disorders are a female illness. While most cases tend to be prevalent among females, about 10% of those in the United States with eating disorders are male.
It’s a youth thing. Research has shown that the majority of eating disorders develop during adolescence — a period of rapid physical and social change for most people. It is sometimes assumed that people ‘grow out’ of eating disorders, and they are not an issue once middle age approaches. The truth is, several middle aged women (and men) seek treatment for an eating disorder.
Eating disorders are for white people. It’s no secret that historically, the face of eating disorders belongs to the Caucasian person. But know that the rates of eating disorders all over the world are rising, even in places like China, India, Mexico, and South Africa. Within Western cultures, eating disorders are found in all ethnicities. Note that African American women have lower rates of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, as it is believed that their cultural body ideal is heavier and more voluptuous. However, they experience the same rates of binge eating disorder as Caucasians.
Eating disorders are caused by dysfunctional families. Recent research has shown that eating disorders develop primarily as a result of biological and genetic causes, in conjunction with social and environmental pressures, which may or may not include familial stress.
Here’s how you can learn more about eating disorders and promote awareness.