Understanding Eating Disorders

Understanding Eating Disorders

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Do you ever find yourself standing in the mirror, poking and prodding at physical things you wish you could change? Far before Instagram models existed, it was human nature to find ourselves longing to look a certain way. But when those small insecurities evolve into mental health issues, they can trigger self-destructive behaviours causing our minds and bodies harm.

Eating disorders occur when we adopt harmful eating habits and are often linked to other mental health issues including anxiety and depression. While eating disorders vary in severity, the worst case scenario can lead to organ damage and fatality—that is why it’s important to recognize the symptoms and take action.

Types of Eating Disorders and Symptoms

The most common types of eating disorders are anorexia and bulimia. Individuals suffering from anorexia often try to lose weight by skipping meals, even if they are already underweight. Bulimia is a similar condition where the individual binges and then vomits or takes laxatives to control their weight. Both eating disorders are common in teenage girls and boys, although more commonly found in girls—1.5% of young women aged 15-24 having experienced one according to NEDIC.

Signs and Symptoms

If you or someone you love are experiencing an eating disorder, you may notice some of these symptoms:

  • Unusual weight changes
  • Irregular or ceased menstrual cycles
  • Eating in secret or avoiding public eating
  • A belief that they are overweight when they are not
  • Excessive exercise
  • Using laxatives to control weight
  • Rushing to the bathroom after eating
  • Binging or gorging on food

All of these behaviours can have severe mental and physical impacts. For many who are suffering, the illness manifests mentally as anxiety, depression, loss of confidence, and poor concentration, and physically as fatigue, infertility, stunted growth, dental problems and organ damage.

Finding help for an eating disorder

If you or a loved one are struggling, it’s important remember that eating disorders are manageable with proper self care and treatment. Unfortunately, only 10% of people with eating disorders seek treatment, but with the proper support and resources, that number can drastically improve. Here are a few ways you can seek treatment:

  • Specialized Treatment Facilities – In Alberta, 35% of people who seek treatment for eating disorders do so at a specialized facility. There are several publicly and privately funded programs available, including through the Calgary Eating Disorder Program and the Calgary Silver Linings Foundation.
  • Counselling – Because eating disorders are so heavily linked with other mental illnesses including depression and anxiety, counselling and psychotherapy are often an important part of recovery, helping guide individuals towards strategies to develop healthy habits and encourage proper self care.

At Your Counselling, our trained psychologists are here to help you feel heard and understood. We offer a judgement free environment and focus on strategies that allow you to regain control and get back to leading a healthy, balanced life. Contact us today for a free consultation