How Do Eating Disorders Develop?

Eating disorders pose a serious problem to millions of college students nationwide. Although young women make up the majority of people suffering from an eating disorder, the number of men living with this problem is growing. Eating disorders can stem from many underlying emotional or psychiatric issues and are not always rooted in a desire to lose weight.

College students are especially vulnerable to developing dangerous eating habits, as major life changes can trigger a disorder. College students are also subjected to peer pressure that may encourage eating disorders.

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Health Problems From Eating Disorders

Eating disorders may be spurred by a number of factors, such as pressure to lose weight or a desire to be in control. Those with eating disorders are more likely to present signs of other psychiatric disorders, including anxiety and depression. Substance abuse rates are higher among people with eating disorders; drugs may even be used to aid in extreme weight loss efforts. Learn about Diet Pills and their impact on people with an eating disorder.

Tragically, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder. Without proper nutrition, people with an eating disorder face bodily deterioration and damage to major organs.

The suicide rate among people struggling with an eating disorder is 50 times higher than that of the general population.

Specific health complications caused by an eating disorder may include:

  • Bone loss
  • Infertility
  • Dangerous heart rhythm
  • Reduction in the size of the heart muscles
  • Nerve damage
  • Seizures
  • Numbness
  • Multi-organ failure

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Types Of Eating Disorders

An eating disorder is a dangerous condition in which a person’s emotions, attitudes, and behaviors place an unhealthy focus on food and/or weight. The three most common eating disorders are:

Anorexia Nervosa

People struggling with anorexia eat far less food than their bodies need, contributing to a dangerously low weight. Anorexia includes an intense fear of gaining weight and self-esteem that is unhealthily tied to body image.

Binge Eating Disorder

Marked by frequent experiences of overeating while feeling out of control, binge eating does not include actions to prevent weight gain. People struggling with a binge eating disorder are often ashamed of their bodies and actions, causing them to avoid eating in public.

Bulimia Nervosa

People struggling with bulimia will find themselves in frequent episodes of binge eating (during which they feel like they are not in control) followed by weight management techniques such as forcing themselves to vomit. Bulimics, like anorexics, draw their self-esteem largely from their body image.

Why College Students Don’t Seek Treatment

Although eating disorders have severe consequences, there are many college students who do not seek treatment for their condition. A survey of college counselors suggested the main reasons students do not seek treatment for their eating disorder is that they:

  • Do not realize that they have an eating disorder
  • Are not aware of treatment options
  • Feel too embarrassed to seek treatment
  • Do not have treatment options available to them
  • Worry about the anonymity of their treatment

Featured Centers Offering Treatment For Eating Disorders

Signs And Symptoms Of An Eating Disorder

Many people mistakenly believe that only young women are affected by eating disorders. But anyone can develop an eating disorder, regardless of gender, age, or social status.

Some of the signs of an eating disorder include:

  • Significant and sudden weight changes
  • Talking about being overweight despite being a normal weight or underweight
  • Avoiding situations that involve eating
  • Frequently overeating, even when not hungry or to the point of discomfort
  • Forced vomiting after excessive eating
  • Abuse of Diet Pills or Stimulants to lose weight

Get Help For An Eating Disorder

The earlier an eating disorder is diagnosed, the more likely it is to be successfully treated. It is important to recognize the signs of a disorder in yourself or someone you care about as soon as possible. If you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder, reach out to a treatment provider for more information.

Published:

Author

Jeffrey Juergens

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  • Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelor’s and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffrey’s desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffrey’s mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.

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Reviewed by Certified Addiction Professional:

David Hampton

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  • A survivor of addiction himself, David Hampton is a Certified Professional Recovery Coach (CPRC) and a member of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC).

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Sources

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Recovery Unplugged – Harrison House of Northern Virginia

Annandale , VA

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Recovery Centers of America at Bracebridge Hall

Earleville , MD

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Cove Forge Behavioral Health Center

Williamsburg , PA

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Banyan Treatment Centers – Delaware

Milford , DE

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Coatesville Comprehensive Treatment Center

Coatesville , PA

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Recovery Centers of America at Devon

Devon , PA

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Recovery Centers of America Outpatient at Voorhees

Voorhees , NJ

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Harmony Healing Center

Cherry Hill , NJ

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White Deer Run

Allenwood , PA

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Lynchburg Comprehensive Treatment Center

Lynchburg , VA

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Recovery Centers of America at Lighthouse

Mays Landing , NJ

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Recovery Centers of America at Monroeville

Monroeville , PA

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Banyan Treatment Centers – Philadelphia

Philadelphia , PA

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Boca Recovery Center – New Jersey

Galloway , NJ

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Huntington Creek Recovery Center

Shickshinny , PA

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Clearbrook Treatment Centers

Laurel , PA

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