Eating disorders are serious, life-threatening illnesses that impact millions of people every year in the United States. The eating disorders Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge-Eating Disorder, Pica, Rumination Disorder, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, and Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder all feature serious disturbances in eating behavior and weight regulation. 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.1 Eating disorders affect both genders, although rates among women and girls are 2 ½ 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 disorder treatment varies depending on the specific symptoms and disorder, but it typically involves a combination of psychological counseling, nutritional education, medical monitoring, and sometimes utilization of medications.2 There are many organizations with resources and support available to help start the treatment process such as The National Eating Disorder Association, Eating Disorder Hope, National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, Project Heal, and The Body Positive.