Effects of Eating Disorders
The effects of eating disorders are far-reaching and some may surprise you. Consider these statistics on eating disorders and their effects.
Statistics on Eating Disorders
- Eating disorders are the deadliest of all mental illnesses.
- About 50 percent of all Americans know someone that suffers from a condition like anorexia or bulimia, so you can see that the effects of eating disorders are far-reaching indeed.
- The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reports that
5 to 10 percent of people with anorexia die within 10 years of the start of their eating disorder and 18 to 20 percent die with 20 years.
- The third most common chronic illness among adolescent girls is anorexia.
Physical Effects of Eating Disorders
Anorexia and bulimia can cause a number of medical problems, including:
- Heart problems
- Osteoporosis (brittle bones that break easily)
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Kidney damage
- Thyroid problems
- Constipation or diarrhea (may alternate)
- Abdominal cramping and pain
- Dental problems
- Ruptured esophagus due to repeated vomiting in people with bulimia
- Hypothermia (low body temperature)
- Blood pressure problems
- Trouble sleeping
- Weakness and fatigue
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
- Lanugo (fine hair growing all over the body)
- Lack of menstruation in women
- Urinary tract infections
- Metabolic disorders
- Electrolyte imbalances
Medical complications of eating disorders can result in death. Eating disorders can also lead to a number of other psychological problems, such as depression and anxiety disorders. These psychological problems put people at increased risk for committing suicide.
Effects of Eating Disorders on Families
The statistics on eating disorders indicate that the condition has a significant effect on families. Not only does the person with the disorder suffer from its effects but the entire family suffers. Some ways eating disorders affect families include:
- Family members worry about their loved one with the disorder.
- People with eating disorders often withdraw from social situations where food will be served, so they may refuse to attend holiday dinners, parties and other family functions.
- People with eating disorders suffer a myriad of health problems, as you can see from the list above, so family members may have to become caretakers.
- People with eating disorders frequently develop other psychological problems like anxiety disorders or depression, which can put further strain on family members.
- When eating disorders are severe, people suffering the disorders may be unable to work and therefore have difficulty supporting themselves or helping to support their families.
- Parents that suffer from eating disorders may have difficulty caring for their children. In addition, watching a parent suffer from medical problems and severe psychological problems is stressful for young children.
- The cost of treatment for eating disorders is significant. Inpatient treatment may be required, often for a number of weeks or even longer. Outpatient mental health care and nutritional counseling is required and often a significant amount of medical care is also needed. Health insurance policies may cover some of the costs but often not all. Family members often bear the burden of paying for treatment.
The statistics on eating disorders show that treatment is not always effective. However, comprehensive long-term treatment is the best method known to help alleviate the harmful effects of eating disorders. The statistics on eating disorders show that successful treatment for these conditions needs to be multi-faceted and include medical care, mental health care and nutritional counseling and education. Psychotropic medications may also be helpful for some people with eating disorders.
Additional Reading: For more information on
eating disorders types, how
the media affects eating disorders, and
models with eating disorders, just
follow the links. We also have the following articles on
that may help you: the long term effects of bulimia,
what causes bulimia,
warning signs of anorexia, health risks of anorexia. Finally to learn
about early childhood eating disorders, or
the importance of a persons eating disorder history, just follow
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