Balancing Your Life | Eating Concerns
Help Me, I Think I May Have an Eating Disorder
What is an eating disorder?
An eating disorder may develop when an individual seeks to resolve an inner conflict or stress through their eating habits--either being excessively restrictive, compulsive, or addictive in their consumption of food. There are basically two types of eating disorders: anorexia and bulimia. An anorexic may become bulimic. Some experts consider compulsive overeating to be an eating disorder also.
What are the symptoms of an eating disorder?
All sufferers of eating disorders hold two things in common: a distorted body image and low self-esteem. Anorexia is seen in an intense fear of becoming fat, failure to maintain a minimal body weight, and in the advanced stages includes the symptoms of malnutrition. Anorexia is often clearly visible through the emaciated appearance of the individual. Bulimics on the other hand are often near normal weight. Bulimia, from the Greek word meaning "hunger of an ox" is seen in an eating pattern of bingeing--often related to emotional triggers, not physical hunger- and secretive purging through self induced vomiting, laxatives, severe diets and exercise. Both disorders are often initially experienced in the teenage years and predominately affect women. Similar to alcoholism or addiction, compulsive overeating is uncontrolled eating in response to emotional stress. A person may either binge, often in secret, or simply consistently overeat. A weight 20% above healthy body weight recommendations may indicate a problem with compulsive overeating. Eating disorders are often accompanied by alcohol and/or drug abuse.
What can I do about an eating disorder?
Because of the risk of complications from dehydration, abuse to the gastrointestinal systems, and malnutrition; a medical assessment and collaboration between therapist and doctor is imperative in treatment of anorexia and bulimia. Early detection and a strong program of behavioral modification and therapeutic support, initially in a hospital setting, seems to be the most effective means of addressing an eating disorder. There are many sources of help and support: friends, family, counseling with a mental health professional or clergy, support groups, medical personnel, and eating disorder clinics.
Help me, I think I may have an eating disorder!
If you feel out of balance; are insecure, a perfectionist, lacking in confidence and feel fat even though your weight is well below the weight chart recommendations for your age and height, if your behavior (i.e. starvation diets, excessive exercise, purging) is putting you at risk; or if your friends tell you that they are concerned that you may have an eating disorder, you may contact the Counseling Services at 898-2670 to set an appointment with a trained counselor in a safe, confidential place for support. If you are suffering with compelling thoughts of suicide and/or making plans to commit suicide, please get help now! Contact the Counseling Services at 898-2670 or Mobile Crisis at 1-800-704-2651.