Helping A Loved One With An Eating Disorder

It's estimated that as many as 24 million people suffer from eating disorders within the United States. Eating disorders are also considered to have the highest rate of mortality compared to all other mental illnesses. Eating disorders are a serious issue. If you have a loved one who might be suffering from this condition, it's important that you get educated and take action.

Types Of Eating Disorders

Anorexia Nervosa – Individuals who suffer from this condition are considered to be on a near constant pursuit to be thin. Oftentimes, the individual is already thin, but they view themselves as being overweight. Additionally, some people that suffer from this condition may actually see themselves as being thin, but they have a compulsive obsession with remaining thin. In order to prevent weight gain, a person with anorexia nervosa may severely restrict their food intake, not eat at all or exercise frequently.

Bulimia Nervosa – An individual who suffers from bulimia nervosa often consumes excessively large amounts of food in a short period. However, after consuming the food, the individual will try to rid their body of the food they just consumed. A purging bulimic will practice self-induced vomiting or use enemas, diuretics or laxatives to rid their body of the food. A non-purging bulimic will try to rid their body of the calories in the form of excessive exercise or restrictive dieting for a period.

Binge Eating DisorderBinge eating is classified as a condition that causes an individual to experience frequent bouts of overeating. The individual often eats to the point of discomfort. The person will generally also choose to binge in private for fear of judgment or embarrassment from other people. Although individuals who suffer from bulimia nervosa also binge eat, an individual with this condition doesn't try to rid their body of the food or calories they just consumed.

What You Can Do

If you have a loved one who you believe is suffering from an eating disorder, it's important to take action. Each of these conditions can cause a number of physical problems and even be life-threatening. Your first step should be a conversation. Approach your loved one in a supportive and loving way. Make certain you aren't passing judgment. Many individuals who suffer from eating disorders have self-confidence issues as well. Passing judgment may only feed into their low self-esteem concerns.

During your conversation, it's helpful to suggest the importance of professional medical help. A behavioral health professional can help diagnosis your loved one's condition and offer treatment. Depending on the specifics of your loved one's diagnosis, treatment may include counseling, therapy or residential treatment.

When it comes to eating disorders, time is of the essence. Make certain that you are getting your loved one the help they need right away.