Eating disorders: Getting the Help You Need


The statistics for eating disorders are sobering. Currently, at least 30 million people suffer from eating disorders, and they have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Eating disorders do not discriminate and span all income levels, ages, ethnicities and races. Even though these disorders are found predominantly in females, it is estimated that 10-15 percent of anorexia sufferers are males.

There are three main eating disorders:

  1. Bulimia: Bulimia sufferers self-induce vomiting after an episode of binging (eating past fullness) to not gain weight or to lose weight. This disorder often involves the misuse and abuse of laxative, diuretics and other medications as well as over exercising to prevent weight gain.
  2. Anorexia: This is characterized by an intense fear of gaining weight. People who suffer from anorexia starve their body of food to lose weight and will often view their body to be much larger than what it is.
  3. Binge Eating Disorder: This is characterized by an episode of binging. Many people who suffer from binge eating disorder express feeling out of control during an episode of binging.

Eating disorders have severe medical complications for short term and long-term health. Health complications could include but are not limited to:

  • Electrolyte imbalances that can lead to irregular heartbeats and possibly heart failure and death. 
  • 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.
  • Abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure, indicating 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.
  • Severe dehydration, which can result in kidney failure.
  • Fainting, fatigue and overall weakness.

Only 1 in 10 people seeks help to his or her eating disorder, and yet according to the Centers for Disease Control, “Early identification and treatment may prevent progression and reduce the risk of chronic health consequences.”

People can and do fully recover from an eating disorder, but it takes a team of qualified medical, behavioral health and nutrition professionals to make sure patients are getting the care and support they need to heal. Research indicates a team approach gives people the best chances for recovery.

If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, our behavioral health team is here to help you.  Please schedule an appointment with one of our behavioral health consultants today! 541.386.6380



Maja Addington
Behavioral Health Consultant, One Community Health