Eating Disorders in College
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Get Help for an Eating Disorder Today
Eating disorders are a mental illness where you have thoughts that stop you from wanting to eat or force you to control your food in some way. Although many eating disorders force you to intake less food, eating disorders can also push you to overeat. If you have an eating disorder, then all of your thoughts and emotions are absorbed by the disorder.
People with eating disorders are often extremely pre-occupied with food and their body weight. Most of the people who are affected by eating disorders are women between the ages of 12 to 35, including college-aged women, but it can affect men of any age as well.
What are Eating Disorders?
If you have anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, then you may be attempting to attain the lowest weight possible. Often these disorders occur because of low self-esteem or being overly critical of oneself. Perceptions can be distorted; you may see yourself overweight even if you are not.
Unfortunately, eating disorders can lead to life-threatening situations where you push yourself to semi-starvation or even death. You may have an intense fear of gaining weight. Initially, you may not realize that you have a problem, or you may be in denial of the problem.
If you struggle with an eating disorder, seek help today.
Types of Eating Disorders
There are three main types of eating disorders: anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating.
Known as anorexia nervosa, this disorder is diagnosed when patients are at least 15% less than the normal healthy weight expected for their height. Anorexia involves an unhealthy method of limiting food intake, feeling an intense fear of becoming fat through eating, and suffering body image problems.
If you or a loved one is struggling with anorexia nervosa, then you need help to be able to maintain a normal weight. As part of the disorder, you may exercise obsessively and force yourself to lose weight. As the body begins to starve, the following symptoms occur:
- Stoppedmenstrual periods
- Osteopenia or osteoporosis, the thinning of bones due to calcium loss
- Brittle hair and nails
- Dry skin
- Mild anemia
- Muscles, including the heart muscle, can waste away
- Lower blood pressure
- Slowed breathing and pulse rates
- Low internal body temperature
- Feeling cold all the time
- Depression and lethargy
Bulimia nervosa is another well-known eating disorder that often develops during adolescence. Although it is less common among men, it can be experienced by anyone. Typically, people with bulimia suffer from a binge disorder as well. They may eat large amounts of food in a short period of time.
This leads to eating until they are overly full (bingeing) and is followed by a form of purging. Often the binge occurs with unhealthy foods. It may be on accident, or out of hunger, and feels uncontrollable. The purge is often in response to feeling guilty or trying to relieve the pain of fullness.
Although purging is often characterized by vomiting, other common forms include fasting, laxatives, diuretics, enemas, or excessive exercise. Despite suffering from a disorder, those with bulimia typically present at a normal weight which means that the condition may be more difficult to diagnose as compared to anorexia.
Symptoms of Bulimia
- Lack of control with binge eating
- Purging behaviors to avoid weight gain
- Self-esteem influenced heavily by body shape or weight
- Fear of gaining weight even while maintaining a normal weight
Side Effects of Bulimia
Side effects of bulimia may include:
- Inflamed or sore throat
- Swollen salivary glands
- Worn tooth enamel
- Tooth decay
- Acid reflux
- Stomach irritation
- Hormonal problems
- Imbalanced electrolytes leading to stroke or heart attack
Binge eating, a separate disorder, is one of the most common eating disorders and often develops in young people. If you have a binge eating disorder, then you may have similar symptoms to that of bulimia. One of the most common occurrences in binge eating disorders is eating a huge amount of food very quickly. Often, there is a lack of control during these episodes.
People with binge eating disorder may not restrict calories or use purging behaviors, such as vomiting or excessive exercise. This eventually leads to unhealthy weight gain.
Symptoms of a Binge Eating Disorder
- Eating large amounts of foods quickly
- Eating in secret
- Eating until uncomfortably full, even when not hungry
- Feeling a lack of control while eating
- Feelings of shame, disgust, or guilt when thinking about food
What Causes Eating Disorders?
Eating disorders occur because of many different factors. One of these is genetics. In a study of twins, it was found that if one twin had an eating disorder, the other had a 50% chance of developing one as well. Another factor that influences the development of eating disorders is personality. People who suffer from neuroticism, perfectionism, or impulsivity have a higher chance of developing an eating disorder.
Unfortunately, societal pressures can also influence people to develop eating disorders. There is the societal value placed on being thin; there are cultural preferences for thinness, and the media promotes these ideologies as well. What is interesting to note is that cultures in other parts of the world do not always share these values or the same rates of prevalence of eating disorders.
Mental Illness and Eating Disorders
Oftentimes an eating disorder occurs alongside mental illness such as anxiety, panic attacks, panic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, or even alcohol and drug abuse. There are many reasons why you might develop an eating disorder, but without treatment of all issues that are affecting you, you will struggle to get healthy.
If you do suffer from a mental illness alongside an eating disorder, it is important to seek treatment for all of your emotional and physical symptoms in order to get healthy.
Treatment For Eating Disorders
There is a huge link between emotional and physical health. The first step in treatment for eating disorders is to admit you have a problem. In treatment, you will work to get back to a healthy weight. With anorexia, this means slowly adding in food in a healthy way with the help of doctors. In the case of bulimia, the first step is stopping the cycle of binging and purging. In a binge disorder, the overeating must stop, and changes are put into place with the support of a team.
It is essential that treatment addresses the underlying problems as well. Emotional problems are made worse by eating disorders, but treatment can help. Whether inpatient, outpatient, or a mix, there are treatment options that will work for your situation. All treatment plans should offer medical care, therapy, nutritional management, and nutritional counseling. By including a range of therapies in your treatment plan, you can begin to build a healthy life and healthy habits one day at a time.
Get Help For Your Eating Disorder
Eating disorders are dangerous. But change is possible. Contact us at Resurgence Behavioral Health to learn more about our programs and how they can help you overcome an eating disorder.
Contact us today for a confidential consultation. We will share information about our free insurance verification so that you can plan the treatment that works for you.
You can get healthy, and Resurgence is here to help.