The statistics on Eating Disorders are mind-blowing: -24 million Americans, 1 million of which are men and boys, have an eating disorder in the US. Seventy-million people worldwide suffer from an eating disorder (The Renfrew Center Foundation for Eating Disorders)

-90 percent of those who have eating disorders are females between the ages of 12 and 25 (SAMHSA)

-91 percent of women on college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting (Kurth, Krahn, Nairn, Drewnowski, 1995).

-Five million women and 3 million men are believed to have a Binge Eating Disorder (BED) in the US (ANAD.org)

The new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual on Mental Disorders will be adding a new diagnosis to the current eating disorder list: Binge Eating Disorder. Although Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa have both been researched extensively, many people still do not understand what these disorders entail, including the new Binge Eating Disorder diagnosis.

This article provides a brief description of warning signs to look for to determine whether your loved one has an eating disorder.

According to the DSM IV-TR, Anorexia Nervosa is defined as: A refusal to maintain a body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for a person's age and height; Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though a person is underweight; Distorted body image; failure to menstruate for 3 consecutive months. Individuals with Anorexia will refuse to eat and deny hunger, avoid eating in public, excessively exercise, especially after they have eaten, and weigh themselves repeatedly throughout the day. Someone with anorexia may be irritable, get dizzy, at times pass out, black out, or fall because of extreme hunger and malnourishment, be very thin (85% below normal body weight), have the shakes, and be tired a lot. Anorexia Nervosa can create very dangerous life threatening physical complications including heart failure.

Bulimia Nervosa is defined as: Binge eating within a 2 hour period, usually of mass food consumption of sweets or fatty foods followed by compensatory measures to prevent weight gain such as the use of laxatives, diuretics, excessive exercise, vomiting, enemas; a sense of a loss of control over eating, distorted body image. This typically lasts 3 months. Individuals with Bulimia Nervosa may go to the bathroom during a meal or right afterwards, be obsessed with exercise, have teeth and gum problems, trouble with swallowing, damage to the throat and esophagus due to acid, damage to stomach lining and other gastrointestinal problems, problems with bowels and digestion; scabs on their fingers from vomiting. This is also a very dangerous disorder than can be life threatening. Individuals have died as a result of tearing their esophagus due to vomiting.

Binge Eating Disorder is defined as: Eating large amounts of food even when one is full and during all times of the day/night; isolating when binge-eating in order to keep it a secret; feeling out of control and a lot of shame when eating large amounts of food. Individuals may restrict food when they are among family, then binge when alone on large amounts of food, to the point of making themselves ill. They typically have depression along with the BED that needs to be treated. Heart problems as well as other major health risks can result from this disorder.

When to get help?

Eating disorders are often life threatening. Unfortunately, an individual with and eating disorder may be resistant to getting the help they need because of the intense fear associated with change (i.e., fear of getting fat, fear of giving up "control", fear of dealing with deeper emotions). Family members can assist in this process by being a support to their loved one, making them an important part of the treatment process.

Seeking the right level of care is critical, since eating disorders are life threatening. At Namaste Consulting, LLC, I will do an assessment with you to determine if outpatient therapy is appropriate for you. Many of the clients that work with me also have a nutritionist and doctor with whom they meet with regularly to ensure they are getting all their treatment needs met. If a higher level of care is appropriate, I will support you in providing a referral and follow up. Contact me today to schedule an assessment: 240-257-6463. Help is just a call away.