Eating Disorder Awareness Week
In light of Eating Disorder Awareness Week, I am turning in my Tips with Trish for a much needed bit about the dangers of eating disorders. I am seeing more than I’d like to on this campus.
For those of you that think that eating disorders are not dangerous, you are sorely mistaken. Eating disorders harm the immune system, make bones weak, impair teeth and most threatening, cause heart damage which can sometimes lead to death. They are real and they are serious and there is a good chance that you know someone who struggles with an eating disorder, or at the very least, a distorted image of their body.
Eating disorders can arise from various origins but anyone can develop one. And although they usually affect women, men can get them as well. Athletes are often the most at risk of having an eating disorder, especially sports that focus on weight and appearance. People with anxiety who tend towards perfectionism are also at the top of the list of those affected. Students who suffer from low self-esteem or depression are also at high risk of developing an eating disorder.
People with an eating disorder may be underweight, overweight or right in the middle. You can’t tell by looking at a person whether or not they have an eating disorder. Warning signs include a marked increase or decrease in weight, not related to a medical condition. A preoccupation with body image, weight and the development of abnormal eating habits may also be indicators. Taking extreme measures to get rid of weight including excessive exercising, vomiting or taking laxatives are also signs that an eating disorder may be present.
Some overthinking about eating habits and weight are normal, but when those thoughts become obsessive, an eating disorder may be the underlying cause. It’s hard to know where everyday anxiety about body image ends and a true eating disorder begins. If you feel like you have, or know someone who may have some of the symptoms outlined above, please consider talking to a physician or counselor. There is help available which typically involves psychotherapy, consultation with a doctor and/or a nutritionist. People can get better and identifying the problem is the first step. In some cases, treatment can even save a person’s life.
The Loras College Counseling Center is considering doing group therapy with those who may have an eating disorder or be struggling with body image issues. If this is something of interest to you, please contact Tricia Borelli at firstname.lastname@example.org.