Wellness & Support

Eating disorder recovery – healing your body and soul

Eating disorders are psychological conditions that generally start because of an obsession with food, body image, weight, or body shape. Experts aren’t sure what causes eating disorders, but a variety of factors are thought to contribute, including:

  • Genetics: Some studies have shown that eating disorders might be hereditary.
  • Personality traits: Neuroticism, perfectionism, and impulsivity often are linked to eating disorders.
  • A perceived pressure to be thin: Some people want to conform to what they think is the cultural ideal. They want to fit in or look like certain people they see in the media.

Regardless of what causes it, an eating disorder can have severe mental and physical health consequences and can lead to death if not treated.

Physical conditions related to eating disorders include excessive weight loss (or gain), sleep problems, fainting, skin problems, anemia, impaired immune system, and much more. Mentally, people with eating disorders suffer from anxiety, depression, negative and suicidal thoughts, and more.

Like drugs, eating disorders are habit-forming and dangerous. Also, like drugs, recovery is possible. If you or someone you know suffers from an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, avoidant/restrictive food intake, or purging, seek help. Talk to a friend or loved one. The sooner you let someone know what is happening, the sooner you can begin recovery.

Overcoming eating disorders will require the help of friends and family, in addition to experts. Your treatment team likely will include a mental health professional, your primary care doctor, and a dietitian.

The most important person on your recovery team, though, is you. To succeed, you must be dedicated to overcoming your eating disorder. Recovery means a return to healthy eating habits, but, more important, it means improved mental and physical health. You’ll feel better and sleep better. You’ll have more energy and won’t get sick as often.

Your treatment team will work with you to replace feelings of despair, depression, helplessness, and anxiety with thoughts of happiness, gratitude, positivity, and motivation.

Overcoming eating disorders is not easy, but it always is worth it. If you or someone you love is suffering from an eating disorder, seek help immediately. Call a friend. Call a family member or your doctor. Free support also is available from the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders at ANAD.org or by calling 888-375-7767.     

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