February 23rd to March 1st, 2014 is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, affect the lives of 30 million people in the United States.  That number only includes reported cases. Eating disorders are not a fad diet or a cry for attention; they are serious, life-threatening conditions.

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.  According to a study done by colleagues at the American Journal of Psychiatry (2009), crude mortality rates were:

  • 4% for anorexia nervosa
  • 3.9% for bulimia nervosa
  • 5.2% for eating disorder not otherwise specified

A person suffering from an eating disorder can face serious medical consequences, such as:

  • Dehydration that can lead to kidney failure
  • Dry skin and hair loss
  • Depression that can lead to suicide
  • Esophageal rupture
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Gastric rupture
  • Heart failure
  • Irregular bowel movements
  • Muscle loss
  • Osteoporosis
  • Peptic ulcers and pancreatitis
  • Tooth decay and staining

Experts say that prompt intensive treatment significantly improves chances of recovery. Knowing the waning signs of an eating disorder is important and can potentially save a life. Warning signs include:

  • Anxiety
  • Avoiding meal times or functions with food
  • Behaviors and attitudes indicating that weight loss has become primary concern
  • Denial of hunger
  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Excessive exercising
  • Extreme diet restrictions
  • Social withdrawal

If you or someone you know may be suffering from an eating disorder get help now by visiting www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/


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