You have begun to notice that your child spends a lot of time in the bathroom after meals. A student you teach seems to throw away most of their food or does not eat during their lunch periods. Your friend has been talking a lot about how “bad” certain foods are and has many rules for eating. A teammate seems to tire more easily in practice than usual. You noticed your partner secretly eating and hiding “the evidence.”
According to National Eating Disorder Association, 28.8 million Americans will experience an eating disorder at least once. Like many mental health disorders, there is no single predictor for who will develop an eating disorder. Risk factors are spread out between biological, psychological, and social influences. Some risk factors may include: a close family member also having an eating disorder, a history of dieting, low body image, weight stigma, and teasing or bullying, to name a few. Experiencing these does not guarantee an eating disorder; however, it could put an individual at risk of developing one.
Eating disorders are more than what we see in the media. The examples in the first paragraph are a few snapshots of what some warning signs could look like. Eating disorders do not discriminate based on race, age, size, gender, or upbringing. Providers and loved ones must remove stereotypes about eating disorders, including what kind of person may have one. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental health disorder except opioid abuse. They are also associated with many effects on the body, some of which may be irreversible. It is essential that people get the care necessary to reduce these risks.
Eating disorders are present in Siouxland. Perhaps after reading this, you thought of someone you know. Eating disorders are incredibly isolating. Treatment for eating disorders often involves a team approach with a therapist, medical doctor, dietitian, and loved ones working together to help the affected person improve their symptoms. There are many resources you can access to learn more information. NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) has plenty of articles and some videos that can provide guidance on how to talk to a loved one about an eating disorder and how to receive care.
If you or someone you know is struggling, contact Siouxland Mental Health Center at 712-252-3871.