When some people hear about someone with an eating disorder, they assume the person has a problem with food. Eating Disorders are not only a sign that a person has a problem with food, but also a symptom of an underlying problem in that person's life.
Anyone can develop an eating disorder, regardless of age, sex, cultural or racial background although most likely to be affected tend to be young women, particular between the ages of 15–25. It is not unusual, however, for an eating disorder to appear in earlier or later in life and the number of men with eating disorders in increasing.
Eating disorders may result from a variety of causes, including low self-esteem, family conflict, problems with friends, the death of someone special, problems at work/school, lack of confidence, sexual or emotional abuse. Since there is no one cause and for many there are several factors that contribute to their developing an eating disorder, each person's eating disorder is unique.
Eating disorders can include many problematic behaviors. Some of the most common ones include restricting the amount of food eaten, exercising excessively and consuming excessive amount of food, engaging in self-induced vomiting, chewing food then spitting it out, and excessive use of laxatives or diuretics. These behaviors have a significant impact on the person's medical health and emotional well-being. If these behaviors continue serious medical complications typically occur and increase the possibility of death. Treatment provides an opportunity for a person to change these dangerous behaviors and resolve the problem(s) that contributed to the eating disorder.
Eating disorders afflict millions of people and thousands will die each year. There is good news though; people with eating disorders can get help. Don't let an eating disorder keep you or your loved one from enjoying life.