Eating Disorders are serious and complex emotional and physical addictions. Without treatment eating disorders lead to mood swings, physical problems, and potential death. Eating Disorders include a range of conditions that involve an obsession with food, weight and appearance to the degree that a person's heath, relationships and daily activities are adversely affected.
While commonly affecting young women, eating disorders are widespread and can impact people of all ages and sexes. It is estimated that 10 million women and 1 million men in the United States suffer from an eating disorder, and the statistics are growing. The number of men with an eating disorder has more than doubled in the last ten years.
Whether a person restricts food intake, binge eats, binges and purges, abuses laxatives, compulsively overeats, or excessively exercises these behaviors often are symptoms and not the problem. They often develop as a way of coping with emotional pain, conflicts related to separation, low self-esteem, depression, stress or trauma.
Eating disorders are characterized by severe disturbances in eating behavior. The practice of an eating disorder can be viewed as a survival mechanism. Just as an alcoholic uses alcohol to cope, a person with an eating disorder can use eating, purging or restricting to deal with their problems. Some of the underlying issues that are associated with an eating disorder include low self-esteem, depression, feelings of loss of control, feelings of worthlessness, identity concerns, family communication problems and an inability to cope with emotions. The practice of an eating disorder may be an expression of something that the eating disordered individual has found no other way of expressing.