Ellen is young and beautiful. She is an artist and a student—and she is also very sick. Anorexia is stealing years that should be the best of her life, as she is in her young 20s. But instead of continuing with her studies, Ellen moves home to find treatment for her eating disorder. Netflix’s To the Bone depicts her story—the ups and downs of her recovery. Although Ellen is a fictional character, her experiences are all too real for many people who struggle with bulimia, anorexia, and other eating disorders.
I breathe in slowly. Food is life. I exhale, take another breath. Food is life. And that’s the problem. When you’re alive, people can hurt you. It’s easier to crawl into a bone cage or a snowdrift of confusion. It’s easier to lock everybody out. But it’s a lie. ―Laurie Halse Anderson, Wintergirls
Hollywood has long been associated with eating disorders, as many stars struggle with them and many TV shows/movies portray the struggle they bring. In many ways, celebrities are shining a light on these diseases that plague millions of Americans—men and women, young and old. And yes, eating disorders are serious mental illnesses. Anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorder claim the highest rate of death among the psychiatric disorders
Treatment for eating disorders may include both medication and psychological intervention, both inpatient and outpatient care. Anyone who struggles with any form of eating disorder is a unique individual and needs unique care. Many times, the first step is asking for help.
If you are ready to reach out, eating disorder counselors at Thriveworks Counseling in Jacksonville, FL are ready to help. Our therapists and counselors understand the medical risks that eating disorders bring, and we have helped many clients find the right recovery plan.
Medical Risks of Eating Disorders
When people struggle with bulimia or anorexia or any eating disorder, well-intentioned family members and friends may compliment them on how skinny and healthy they look. Most people think losing weight or being skinny is always a good and healthy choice, but this is a myth that minimizes the serious risks of eating disorders. Anorexia and bulimia pose serious risks for people’s health.
Anorexia may raise a person’s risk for the following medical conditions:
- Heart failure
- Kidney damage
- Low blood pressure
- Low white blood cells
- Abnormal heart beat
- Menstrual cycle disruptions
- Low heart rate
- Endocrine disruptions
- Premature osteoporosis
Bulimia may raise a person’s risk for these medical conditions: gastric rupture, tooth decay, electrolyte imbalance, gastroesophageal reflux disease, kidney damage, ulcers, and heart failure.
These serious risks call for serious action. Recognizing the symptoms of eating disorders and seeking early treatment is paramount. Early intervention may mean less severe harm these illnesses can cause.
The Signs and Symptoms for Eating Disorders
While eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes, two of the most common are anorexia and bulimia. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) gives the diagnostics for recognizing each. Although there is overlap, bulimia and anorexia are distinct and separate illnesses.
The diagnostics for anorexia are as follows:
- Experiencing repulsion for one’s own body—its shape, size, and weight.
- The inability to properly assess one’s body shape, size, and weight, frequently seeing oneself as overweight when one is indeed severely underweight.
- Severe and illogical fear of gaining weight that leads people to undermine any efforts of maintaining a healthy weight.
- Limiting how much food and drink are ingested so that a severely low body weight is maintained as would be considered healthy for an individual of similar developmental trajectory, age, sex, and physical health.
The diagnostics for bulimia are as follows:
- Iterative incidents of binge eating that involve…
- Lost control over food consumption.
- Eating, during a specific period of time, more food than most people could or would eating during the same period and circumstances.
- Attempting to offset the binge eating through repeated and unhealthy behaviors such as misuse of laxatives or diuretics, excessive exercise, fasting frequently, or self-induced vomiting.
- Body weight and shape dominate one’s self-image while other characteristics such as personality, intelligence, skills, et cetera are downplayed.
While each diagnosis for an eating disorder is unique, they do share some similarities. Anxiety and depression often co-occur with eating disorders. Although cultural stereotypes may cast eating disorders as a problem for young women, they plague both men and women, both young and old. Although many times, people first develop symptoms during their adolescent or early adulthood, eating disorders can affect anyone.
Get Eating Disorder Help at Thriveworks Counseling in Jacksonville, FL
The professionals at Thriveworks Counseling in Jacksonville, FL understand the serious threat that eating disorders pose to people’s health, and we also understand what treatment options are available. We know that reaching out for help can feel overwhelming and intimidating. Our office has done what we can to make the process of scheduling an appointment for therapy as easy as possible.
When you contact Thriveworks, a scheduling specialist will answer your call and help you find an appointment time. We offer evening and weekend sessions—because not everyone can make an appointment during normal business hours. We also accept most form of insurance. Let’s work together. Contact Thriveworks Counseling in Jacksonville, FL today.