Managing work, family and other obligations can make maintaining a healthy weight particularly challenging. Sometimes, the effort to lose weight, maintain weight, or meet some standard of ideal weight can lead to eating disorders.
The most common eating disorders are the following:
• Anorexia nervosa, characterized by someone seeing themselves as overweight, even when they are dangerously underweight. People with anorexia nervosa typically weigh themselves often, severely restrict the amount of food they eat, and eat very small quantities of only certain foods. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
• Bulimia nervosa is characterized by someone who, while often maintaining relatively normal weight, practices ‘binging and purging’, where they frequently eat unusually large amounts of food followed by forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, excessive exercise, or a combination of these behaviors.
• Binge-eating disorder occurs when a person goes through periods of binge-eating but does not purge afterwards.
A commonly held view is that eating disorders are a lifestyle choice. They are actually serious mental illnesses that can seriously compromise a person’s health, including lowering the heart rate, causing muscle weakness, loss of bone density, and – too often- death.
While untreated eating disorders can be tragic, the good news is that they are treatable. If you or someone you know is preoccupied with food and weight, you may have the symptoms of an eating disorder. Take a free and anonymous self-assessment at http://www.BeckPsychotherapy.com and find local resources. February is Eating Disorders Awareness Month, so share the news about this free resource with friends and loved ones.