Eating Disorders: A silent killer

Eating disorders are the number one killer when it comes to psychiatric disorders. According to the National Association of Eating Disorders in 2015, 20 million women and 10 million men report clinically significant levels of an eating disorder at some point during their life. As an eating disorder specialist, and someone who has personal experience with an eating disorder, I can tell you it’s never JUST an eating disorder. Frequently, eating disorders are accompanied by other issues. This may include depression, anxiety, co-addiction, other mental health issues, and trauma. These issues need to be dealt with just as urgently as the eating disorder related thoughts and behaviors. By the time people reach the point of getting help, they have often isolated themselves from support systems. Also, they more than likely experience various physical, psychological, social, and living difficulties which compound the difficulties related to recovery.

How can I identify an eating disorder?

For the most part, the sooner someone gets help the better off they’ll be in the long run. So how do you know the difference between your serial dieter and someone with an eating disorder (Hint: It’s not always that they’re underweight)? Let me give you 10:

  1. Is the person’s body losing or gaining weight quickly?
  2. Have you noticed personality or mood changes such as isolation, depression, anxiety around food or body image?
  3. Do they disappear after or during meals?
  4. Are they working out excessively?
  5. Is enamel fading from their teeth?
  6. Have you noticed marks on their knuckles?
  7. Do they eating in secret or restricting food variety?
  8. Are there rituals related to food or exercise?
  9. Is body checking a frequent occurrence?
  10. Is the person constantly talking about their physical appearance or food?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, there’s definitely an indication that you or your loved one may need help.

What steps can I take to help?

Although talking about mental health issues and taboo topics is never easy, it’s a lot harder to lose someone you love. It’s easy to have anxiety about confronting someone about their recent changes. Because of this, it’s never a bad idea to seek professional guidance yourself.

  1. Prepare yourself: s/he may respond to you with anger or denial. This response does not mean a problem does not exist. Educate yourself on eating disorders, available treatments, and options in your area prior to the conversation. There is a lot of shame s/he probably feels in admitting something is out of control.
  2. Understand you may not get the results you want.
  3. Prepare yourself to set boundaries and bottom lines.
  4. Leave him/her with resources to look over later when they feel ready.
  5. Avoid threatening or blaming statements.
  6. Allow the person to talk without dominating the space with your own feelings.

Contact us for additional help! You’re not alone.

If you need more help, you can always call us at 210-502-7222 or email [email protected] to help you and your loved one begin the journey to healing. If we aren’t the right program for you, we’ll help you connect with the right people.

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