An eating disorder is a serious mental illness that has the highest fatality rate among all mental illnesses* due to physical complications and suicide. Every 62 seconds, at least one person dies as a direct result of an eating disorder. This disorder interferes with an individual's ability to have a healthy relationship with food by creating disturbances that affect physical and emotional health. Research has revealed that multiple factors contribute to the development of an eating disorder, including genetics, biology, temperament, psychology, and social influence. It is not uncommon for a person with an eating disorder to suffer from other mental health issues including, anxiety, depression, trauma-related disorders, and addiction.
Despite the prevalence of eating disorders, they continue to be
misunderstood and overlooked. The media often portrays eating disorders in the most extreme way, showing a painfully emaciated young woman refusing to eat. In truth, the majority of those with eating disorders are within a normal weight range or above. They affect both males and females of all races and ethnicity and can often be hidden, even from close friends and family, until they become life interfering.
We live in a culture filled with diets and mixed messages of what is healthy. It is becoming increasingly hard to understand how a healthy relationship with food should look, and disordered eating can frequently be disguised as a healthy lifestyle.
While there are different types of eating disorders, it is not uncommon for sufferers to experience a mix of symptoms. Despite any differences in behaviors, there is often a commonality among sufferers including:
A strained relationship with food with a lot of rigidity and rules or conversely feeling very out of control around food
A distorted perception of one's body that is often tied to self-worth
A relationship with food or exercise that impacts relationships and one's level of happiness or well being
Behaviors that are life interfering, causing the sufferer to avoid social situations or cancel plans that interfere with engaging in behaviors