Eating Disorders – Help Is At Hand
Millions of people from around the world are affected by eating disorders, a medical condition that affects both men and women. These conditions can occur at any time during a lifespan, but the average age of onset is fourteen. Eating disorders can have a devastating effect on health and on relationships. Those suffering from these disorders frequently have low self-esteem, and really don’t see themselves as they appear to others. They generally suffer from poor body image, believing that they are overweight even when they are emaciated. The damage caused by these conditions can be life threatening and long-term.
For those with an eating disorder, the first step to recovery is to seek help. Some sufferers may find it difficult to reach out to family and friends for this assistance. For them, a stranger’s chat may be the answer. Online bulimia and anorexia chat sites, forums and support groups are plentiful, and may be particularly useful for those who are not ready for face-to-face discussions, about their disorder.
Eating disorder support groups are often associated with clinics or hospitals, but there are also support groups that have fashioned themselves on the very successful Alcoholics Anonymous, basing their recovery programs on a twelve step recovery plan. They are free of charge and are run by the members. They have no religious affiliation. They can provide a safe haven for sufferers who can share their fears and concerns with others who have been through similar experiences and can offer empathy and advice.
Recognizing the signs and symptoms of eating disorders is crucial to the acceptance that there is a problem requiring intervention.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF EATING DISORDERS
Eating disorders include Binge Eating Disorder, Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. The characteristics and symptoms differ.
People with Anorexia Nervosa have a distorted body image. They see themselves as overweight and become obsessed with regulating their food intake. They tend to weigh themselves every time they eat. They eat very small portions, allowing themselves to eat only certain foods. Some will binge eat and then purge themselves with self-induced vomiting, laxatives, diuretics or excessive exercise. Anorexia is recognized as the most dangerous psychiatric disorder, and can result in such severe damage to the body that it sometimes causes the death of the sufferer.
The symptoms of anorexia include:
- Chronic dieting
- Obsession with calories and food fat content
- A fixation on food. Sufferers may cook for others, refusing to partake themselves
- Creation of food rituals such as dicing or hiding food
- Absence of menstrual cycles.
- Soft, fine hair all over the body
- Hair loss
- Dry skin and hair
- Cold extremities
- Social isolation
- Depression or lethargy
People suffering from Bulimia Nervosa regularly eat unusually large amounts of food. They feel out of control when it comes to eating. The binging is usually followed by a purge where vomiting is induced, laxatives or diuretics are used, excessive exercise is performed or a fast is imposed. Sufferers usually maintain normal body weight. They may even be a little overweight. They are driven by distress about their weight, and have an intense desire to lose weight. Normally bulimics are shamed and embarrassed by their behavior and will seek to hide it.
- Chronic inflammation of the throat
- Damage to tooth enamel
- Salivary glands in the neck are often swollen
- Acid reflux or other problems with the gastrointestinal tract may be present.
- Irritation in the intestines caused by the abuse of laxatives.
- Dehydration and an imbalance of electrolytes
Binge eating disorder
People with this disorder frequently eat inordinately large amounts of food. They do not purge after eating and as a consequence they are usually overweight. People who binge-eat are usually deeply shamed by their actions. Very often this shame will result in another binging session.
It is believed that between fifty percent and eighty five percent of people will recover from their eating disorder. For those who have the symptoms or have family members who appear to have the symptoms of the disorder, help is at hand and must be sought to mitigate any long-term health problems.