NEDA is the official Eating Disorder Association and it is wonderful. Over the years I have been to many sites that are geared towards this audience but I have never found one as indispensable as NEDA. Their information is unmatched, as is their resources. This is not just an organization for those afflicted, it is a place for everyone. Moms, dads, siblings, friends, men, women, young, old, and everything in between.
Eating disorders do not discriminate. This week is NEDAwareness Week.
The purpose of this week is to gain awareness and educate as many people as possible. Their theme is Everyone Knows Someone. How true! I wanted to do a special post(s) for this event, but once again had my dates mixed up. I didn't realize until yesterday that NEDAwareness is this week!
Confession: I'm totally throwing this together at the last minute.
Something that I have always found incredibly disturbing is the blind ignorance that people have towards eating disorders. I know that for me, I was petrified of very notion that I might have an eating disorder. I watched the health class videos and the after-school specials. I knew I wasn't the stereotype. Yet, I was so scared of anyone even thinking I might have one - not because I would be pressured to get better, but because of the negative view towards these disorders and myths that entangle them. I aim to help clear that up.
Eating disorders do not discriminate! The portrayal of a young (usually white) female with poor self-esteem is very inaccurate. Men are afflicted just as women are. Every age bracket suffers - the very young, very old, and every age in between.
Everyone's battle is unique. The only thing that is a constant is the danger. A paper by Papadopoulos studied more than 6000 individuals with AN over 30 years using Swedish registries. Overall people with anorexia nervosa had a six fold increase in mortality compared to the general population. Reasons for death include starvation, substance abuse, and suicide. Importantly the authors also found an increase rate of death from ‘natural’ causes, such as cancer. Source: NEDA By: Walter Kaye, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Director, UCSD Eating Disorder Research and Treatment Program, University of California, San Diego One thing that is probably the most alarming to me (especially now, as a mother) is the upward trend that has steadily kept building.
By age 6, girls especially start to express concerns about their own weight or shape. 40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat. This concern endures through life (Smolak, 2011).
These diseases are serious business! Complications of Anorexia Nervosa:
- Abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure, which mean that the heart muscle is changing. The risk for heart failure rises as the heart rate and blood pressure levels sink lower and lower.
- Reduction of bone density (osteoporosis), which results in dry, brittle bones.
- Muscle loss and weakness.
- Severe dehydration, which can result in kidney failure.
- Fainting, fatigue, and overall weakness.
- Dry hair and skin; hair loss is common.
- Growth of a downy layer of hair—called lanugo—all over the body, including the face, in an effort to keep the body warm.
- Electrolyte imbalances that can lead to irregular heartbeats and possibly heart failure and death.
- Electrolyte imbalance is caused by dehydration and loss of potassium,sodium and chloride from the body as a result of purging behaviors.
- Potential for gastric rupture during periods of binging.
- Inflammation and possible rupture of the esophagus from frequent vomiting.
- Tooth decay and staining from stomach acids released during frequent vomiting.
- Chronic irregular bowel movements and constipation as a result of laxative abuse.
- Peptic ulcers and pancreatitis.
- High blood pressure.
- High cholesterol levels.
- Heart disease as a result of elevated triglyceride levels.
- Type II diabetes mellitus.
- Gallbladder disease.
**DSM has officially changed the EDNOS term and criteria to better diagnose the "gray area" category of eating disorders that many fall into. I will be writing a post on this later (8/13)
For more information on specific topics visit their Articles section.
NEDA also provides free, online screenings and a click to chat feature in the help and support section.