Eating disorders are chronic mental health conditions that can affect people regardless of their background, age, or gender. Some of the most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, and bulimia nervosa.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), eating disorders are characterized by a persistent disturbance of eating or eating-related behavior that results in the altered absorption or consumption of food. This altered food intake can significantly impair a person’s physical health or psychosocial functioning.
Fortunately, eating disorders are treatable, and help is available. At East Tennessee Behavioral Health, we provide inpatient eating disorder treatment for adolescents, adults, and senior adults. With the support of our experienced and compassionate team, healing from the symptoms and effects of eating disorders is possible.
Signs & Symptoms of an Eating Disorder
The signs and symptoms of an eating disorder can vary depending on the person and the specific eating disorder they’re suffering from. Generally speaking, however, the following are some common signs and symptoms of an eating disorder:
- Preoccupation with food, dieting, or weight loss
- Restricting food or skipping meals
- Appearing uncomfortable eating around others
- Making frequent trips to the restroom after meals
- Dressing in layers to hide changes in their body
- Refusing to eat certain foods
- Using excessive amounts of gum or mouthwash
- Developing calluses on the backs of their hands
- Having trouble getting a good night’s sleep
- Severe teeth discoloration or dental problems
While not everyone experiences the same eating disorder symptoms, it is important to reach out for professional help at the earliest signs of an eating disorder.
Common Causes of & Risk Factors for an Eating Disorder
There is no single cause of an eating disorder. But there are certain factors that can increase a person’s risk for developing one of these conditions. Common causes of and risk factors for an eating disorder include:
- Having a loved one who struggles with an eating disorder
- History of dieting or using other weight control methods
- Struggling with inflexible thinking patterns
- Focusing on perfectionism
- Being bullied as a child, specifically relating to their body image
- History of trauma or experiencing a traumatic event
Eating Disorder Statistics
The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) and the National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders (ANAD) have reported the following statistics on eating disorders in the United States:
- Approximately 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lives.
- Each year, 10,200 people die as a result of their struggles with an eating disorder. This means that one eating disorder-related death occurs every 52 minutes.
- Roughly 26% of people who have an eating disorder attempt suicide.
Therapies Used in Eating Disorder Treatment
At East Tennessee Behavioral Health, we understand that eating disorders affect everyone differently, which is why each person completes a comprehensive assessment before they begin treatment with us.
We provide a personalized eating disorder treatment plan for each person that considers their unique needs, mental health history, and treatment goals.
Based on the information we gather from you during the assessment process, your treatment plan may include:
- Basic medical care
- Medication management services
- Individual therapy
- Family therapy
- Group therapy
- Detoxification services for a co-occurring substance use disorder
Throughout your time in treatment for an eating disorder, you may also engage in a number of evidence-based treatment methods. These may include elements of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and motivational enhancement.
The highly experienced team at our eating disorder treatment place will continually monitor your progress, making any necessary changes to your treatment plan along the way.
The Impact of an Untreated Eating Disorder
If you’ve developed an eating disorder, it is crucial to find a place to get eating disorder treatment as soon as possible. If you don’t seek help for an eating disorder, the symptoms of this condition can worsen over time, and this can have a devastating impact on many aspects of your life.
These are some common ways an eating disorder can affect a person in the absence of treatment:
- Dehydration or malnutrition
- Difficulty securing or maintaining employment
- Trouble communicating with friends and family
- Damage to the esophagus
- Long-term heart problems
- Digestive problems due to self-induced vomiting
- Frequent infection or illness due to a weakened immune system
- Onset or worsening of other mental health concerns
- Suicidal ideation
In the most severe cases, an eating disorder can be fatal. But with the support of our expert team at East Tennessee Behavioral Health, you can get on the path to long-term healing.
This content was written on behalf of and reviewed by the clinical staff at East Tennessee Behavioral Health.