Many people who have never dealt with a mental health condition of their own might not be aware of the fact that most, if not all, conditions of this nature are commonly accompanied by a number of physical symptoms and manifestations as well. Your mental health is linked with your physical health; therefore, if you are struggling with something mentally, then your body is going to react in certain ways as well.
When it comes specifically to eating disorders, the physical ramifications and manifestations of such conditions are undeniable. What tends to start off as a warped mental image of one’s body can quickly develop into self-harming techniques that can permanently affect the body.
Even though somewhere around 9% of the population of the US struggles with a type of eating disorder, there are still a great many misconceptions about such disorders. It isn’t simply a matter of “snapping out of it” and eating more. There are typically some very complex issues at play when someone is dealing with an eating disorder.
With that in mind, here are three things that everyone should be aware of when it comes to eating disorders.
1. They Don’t Just Affect Women
Even though the majority of individuals who suffer from an eating disorder are women, men are not immune to these types of conditions. Particularly young males find themselves faced with similar pressures to look a certain way, and those pressures can easily make them feel as though they have no choice but to take extreme measures to fit a certain archetype.
It is estimated that somewhere around 30% of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control tactics in order to achieve a certain weight or look. Such tactics can include fasting or abstaining from meals altogether or vomiting after a meal (a condition generally referred to as bulimia).
If you suspect that your teen is struggling with an eating disorder, it is important to seek help as soon as possible.
2. They Don’t Just Involve a Lack of Eating
Even though many of the more common eating disorders, such as anorexia, involve abstaining from food partially or entirely, there are other types of eating disorders that can affect a person. For instance, binge eating involves eating too much at one time in order to control weight. Binge eating can also be the result of stress and accompany other mental health conditions like anxiety or depression.
3. They Can Affect Reproductive Health
Eating disorders can have many different negative effects on one’s physical health. However, many people don’t know that when it comes to women, the reproductive system can also be affected in a serious way. Eating disorders can disrupt or halt the menstrual cycle entirely, leading to further hormonal and physical disruptions in the body.
The disruption in the menstrual cycle, referred to as amenorrhea, is the result of a low caloric intake that causes a woman’s body to essentially have insufficient energy to continue the monthly cycle properly.