"Food is the most abused anxiety drug. Exercise is the most under utilized antidepressant." - Bill PhillipsEating disorders are serious illnesses that can cause severe disturbances to a person's eating behaviors. Obsessions with food, body weight and shape are the signs of an eating disorder that can have a negative impact on the physical and mental health. The month of February is observed as Eating Disorders Awareness Month. Each week of February is observed as Eating Disorders Awareness Week by various institutions and organizations to raise awareness about the disorders. The goal is to raise awareness and to fight the myths and misunderstandings that surround different types of eating disorders. Raising awareness of eating disorders is an important first step in addressing the problem. It helps promote early detection and intervention, which can improve the chances of recovery for millions. The common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders (OSFED). Some of the causes of eating disorders are depression, low self-esteem, concern about body shape and size, fear of weight gain, desire to imitate role models, and overcoming disappointments. Eating disorders are not just about food and body weight. It also involves emotional and stress-related issues. A person with an eating disorder uses food to deal with uncomfortable or painful emotions. Food restriction is used to feel in control. Purging is used to combat the feelings of helplessness. Overeating may temporarily alleviate sadness, anger, or loneliness. ‘A person with an eating disorder should not be forced to change at once. Offering support and encouragement with professional help can make a huge difference.’ Anorexia Nervosa People with anorexia nervosa starve themselves out of fear of becoming fat. Despite being underweight, they assume they are overweight. Individuals with anorexia control their weight with exercise, diet pills, or purging. The condition usually develops around the age of 16 or 17. One in 250 women and 1 in 2,000 men suffer from anorexia at some point in their life. Bulimia Nervosa It is a destructive cycle of bingeing and purging. Following an episode of uncontrollable binge eating, people with bulimia take extreme steps to purge themselves of the extra calories. To avoid weight gain, they vomit, use laxatives, exercise or fast. Bulimia is two to three times more common than anorexia nervosa. It is often more likely to develop at the age of 18 or 19. About 90 percent of people with bulimia are women. Binge Eating People with binge eating disorder overeat and consume thousands of calories in a short period. Despite feelings of guilt over these secret binges, they feel unable to control their behavior or stop eating even when uncomfortably full. Binge eating is more commonly reported among older adults between the ages of 30 or 40. The condition is widespread, and it is estimated to affect 5% of the adult population. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder. According to statistics, one-in-five people between the ages of 15 and 24 years with an eating disorder die due to starvation or suicide. Eating disorder is not an issue of teenagers; it can affect people throughout the lifespan. However, the condition is more common in women than men. Claire Mysko, CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association, said, "Eating disorders can affect people of all body weights, age groups, races, ethnicities, and genders." According to a study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders in 2012, about 70 percent of women aged 50 or older are trying to lose weight. Sixty percent reported that their concerns about body image and weight had an impact on their lives, and 13 percent showed signs and symptoms of an eating disorder, such as extreme dieting, binge eating, and excessive exercise. Although eating disorders are less common in older adults than in teenagers, the symptoms remain the same and have a devastating impact on a person's quality of life. Adults with an eating disorder are more likely to suffer from complications such as osteoporosis, tooth loss, gastrointestinal and cardiac problems. The signs and symptoms of an eating disorder may be similar to both teenagers and adults, but the triggers and concerns are different. The triggers for teenagers are body size and shape, but older adults with eating disorders are concerned about the signs of aging, such as wrinkles, body shape changes, and loose skin. Early Detection and Intervention is the Key Eating disorders often go undetected, but knowing the signs and symptoms can help start the road to recovery. When a person is exhibiting the signs of an eating disorder, intervening during the early stages increases a person's chance of successful recovery. It can prevent the years of struggle and also save lives. Eating disorders can have life-threatening consequences if not treated properly. A person with an eating disorder should get professional help from a doctor, or a psychologist or a nutritionist. Only 33.8% of adults with an eating disorder are receiving treatment. Treatment for an eating disorder varies from one person to another. Counseling and behavioral therapy are very effective for some, whereas others may need medications, such as antipsychotics and antidepressants. For some people, a combination of both therapy and medications are necessary for recovery. Eating Disorders in the Workplace The UK's leading charity organization called 'Beat' supports anyone affected by eating disorders. This year, Beat observes Eating Disorders Awareness Week from 22nd to 28th February. This year, the theme of Eating Disorders Awareness Week is "Eating Disorders in the Workplace". The spotlight is on the impact of eating disorders in the workplace and what colleagues and employers can do to support a person's recovery at the workplace. Eating disorder can have an impact on an individual's everyday life if it is left untreated. It can take a toll on the work productivity and also affect the relationships with employers and other coworkers. Most of the people may have a stressful environment at work. Stress can be a trigger for developing an eating disorder. Raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of eating disorders will enable employers and coworkers to address the concerns with employees, helping them to seek treatment. Helping Someone with an Eating Disorder An individual with an eating disorder may be afraid to ask for help. It is important to help and support a colleague or a friend with an eating disorder. Before reaching out to help a person with the condition, it is important to understand the biological and psychological causes of the disorder. Recognizing the signs of eating disorders, family, friends and colleagues can help an individual towards recovery. Some of the signs that someone is struggling with an eating disorder include: A change in behavior and attitude towards weight loss and dietingIncrease in food and body talk Withdrawal from friends, family, social gatherings and activitiesExcessive and rigid exercise schedule Conscious of calories and moving from one diet to another After noticing the warning signs of the disorder in a person, choose a comfortable and safe environment such as, at home. The person may be experiencing high levels of anxiety, shame, embarrassment, and guilt. Be prepared to deal with the person if they respond with anger or denial. Communicate in a non-confrontational way, encourage them to express their feelings and listen respectfully. Do not criticize or judge, but be sincere and direct while discussing the concerns. Do not take the role of a therapist, encourage the person to seek professional help and offer support for each step of the way. Reference : 1. https://www.b-eat.co.uk/support-us/eating-disorder-awareness-week 2. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org 3. http://activeminds.org/ 4. http://www.helpguide.org/articles/eating-disorders/helping-someone-with-an-eating-disorder.htm Source: Medindia << Valentine’s Day Triggers Love Hormone Oxytocin Rush World Zero Discrimination Day 2016 >> Recommended Reading Eating Disorders Eating disorders involve extreme attitudes and behaviors towards food and weight. It has the highest suicidal mortality rate than other mental illnesses. READ MORE Eating Disorder Treatment is a Combo of Counseling, Medications, Support Eating disorders are caused by either eating too little, or too much, or trying out harmful means to lose weight; it requires immediate treatment and counseling. READ MORE One Million Australians Suffer Eating Disorders A disturbing new report has found that almost 1 million Australians are currently suffering from an eating disorder. READ MORE Cosmopolitan Launches Campaign to Increase Awareness About Eating Disorders Leading international women's magazine Cosmopolitan has launched a new campaign ahead of Eating Disorders Awareness Week. READ MORE Anorexia Nervosa Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder most commonly found among teenage girls. Anorexia nervosa is characterized by a very low body weight, generally defined as 15% below the Body Mass Index. READ MORE Binge Eating Disorder When a person overeats, he is unable to control his hunger pangs, while during an emotional/binge eating session, he is incapable of controlling his emotions. READ MORE Bulimia Nervosa The term ''Bulimia'' refers to episodes of uncontrolled excessive eating, known as "binges," followed by self-induced vomiting or purgation. READ MORE Chronic Dieting - Is it an Eating Disorder? Chronic dieting is associated with eating disorders that mainly include unhealthy eating practices such as severe calorie restriction in diet of men or women who on a regular basis follow fad diets mainly to reduce weight. READ MORE Diabulimia Diabulimia is an eating disorder particularly in patients with type I diabetes caused by reducing and/or skipping insulin doses. READ MORE Female Athlete Triad Female athlete triad is caused by extreme dieting and exercise usually among young women athletes and leads to abnormal menstruation, an unhealthy body and in extreme cases even death. READ MORE Sleep Eating Disorders Sleep-related eating disorders are abnormal eating behaviors that occur during night. Sleep related eating disorder is a part of parasomnias. READ MORE Most Popular on Medindia Indian Medical Journals Diaphragmatic Hernia Blood Donation - Recipients More News on: Binge Eating DisorderAnorexia NervosaBulimia NervosaSleep Eating DisordersFemale Athlete TriadEating DisordersDiabulimiaChronic Dieting - Is it an Eating Disorder?