The eating disorders anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder and their variants all feature serious disturbances in eating behavior and weight regulation. They are associated with a wide range of adverse psychological, physical and social consequences. A person with an eating disorder may start out just eating smaller or larger amounts of food, but at some point, their urge to eat less or more spirals out of control. Severe distress or concern about body weight or shape or extreme efforts to manage weight or food intake, also may characterize an eating disorder.
Eating disorders are real, treatable medical illnesses. They frequently coexist with other illnesses such as depression, substance abuse or anxiety disorders. Other symptoms can become life-threatening if a person does not receive treatment, which is reflected by anorexia being associated with the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder.
Eating disorders affect both genders, although rates among women and girls are 2½ times greater than among men and boys. Eating disorders frequently appear during the teen years or young adulthood but also may develop during childhood or later in life.
Eating disorders are very complex diseases that can have severe physical and emotional consequences if left untreated. For this reason, it is imperative that men or women dealing with eating disorders seek professional help, especially with more clinically severe eating disorders. Utilizing a professional treatment team who specialize in eating disorders can be one of the most powerful and influential resources for enhancing recovery. Though the journey of recovery is often long and arduous and includes many highs and lows, the rewards reaped are invaluable and life-saving.