In the discussion of mental health challenges, the topic of eating disorders often falls by the wayside. But why is this? Eating disorders are no less challenging or harmful than depression or anxiety. Eating disorders often go hand in hand with other mental health challenges. In a study of 2,400 women diagnosed with an ED, 94% also had some form of mood disorder. A 2004 study concluded that two thirds of people with an ED also suffer from an anxiety disorder. 42% of people in the study reported that their eating disorder came about, in part, because of their anxiety disorder.
What is an eating disorder?
An ED is a mental health condition characterized by severe disturbances to a person’s eating behaviors. Obsessions with food, body weight, and shape feed into the condition. Common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. One common misconception is that eating disorders only affect women; however, all genders are at risk for developing an ED. Risk is particularly high among athletes and the children of adults who suffer from depression or an ED.
View the full list of symptoms at www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/warning-signs-and-symptoms
- Preoccupation with weight, food, dieting, or fat content.
- Irregular eating habits
- Dizziness upon standing
- Weight fluctuations
- Dry skin and hair, and brittle nails
- Impaired immune function
- Withdrawal from friends and social activities
- Extreme mood swings
Symptoms of depression and eating disorders often overlap. Both include fatigue and severe weight loss, but only individuals with eating disorders have an obsession with weight gain and loss. Both depression and an eating disorder put a person at risk of attempting suicide. Suicide rates for people with anorexia nervosa are reported to be 12 per 100,000.
If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder call (800) 931-2237 or text “NEDA” to 741741.
Read Part 2 on how to change the conversation surrounding eating disorders.