An eating disorder is diagnosed when unhealthy eating habits, such as food restriction, binge eating, and purging, are sustained and severe enough to harm a person's physical and mental health. The most common eating disorders are:
Who is at risk?
Young college-age women are at higher risk, but men are also affected. Between 10 and 20 percent of college-age women, and 4 to 10 percent of college-age men, have an eating disorder.
Eating disorders can have a severe impact on physical health, with effects ranging from tooth decay to fatal heart attacks. Those with an eating disorder often struggle with isolation, depression, and anxiety, and many also engage in self-injurious behaviors such as cutting themselves. They are also significantly more likely to attempt suicide or commit suicide.
Dieting may be a precursor to the disorder like this.
The National Eating Disorders Association reports that 35 percent of "normal" dieters progress to an unhealthy diet, which can include fad diets, fat, dairy, or gluten restriction, and more serious manifestations such as exercise. Excessively, abusing laxatives, bingeing or purging. Of these people, 20 to 25 percent develop eating disorders.
Why are eating disorders common in college?
College can be what experts call a "perfect storm" for eating disorders. Why?
What to watch out for
Signs that someone might have an eating disorder:
How can you help someone having an eating disorder?
If you see someone having some signs of eating disorder, please don't stay quiet. Talk to him about it. Having a conversation with him might be the first step to help him oor getting him out from this type of disorder.
YES: Try to stay calm and not judge.
DON'T: Focus on your appearance.
YES: Focus on health. Let him know how worried you are and how dangerous his unhealthy behavior has become.
DON’T: accuse or demand. Stay away from reproachful language such as "you have to stop or" you're making everyone worry, "which can make the person feel guilty or defensive.
YES: Be honest and use first-person supportive phrases, such as, "I'm worried and I hope you'll let me help you." Or "I'm worried and I'm here to help you." "I want you to be safe."
NO: Go back after the first conversation. To be helpful, you will need to be understanding and persistent.
YES: Be prepared to listen, even if you don't like what you are hearing at first. People with eating disorders often deny that they have a problem or have mixed feelings about getting better. It is important to take your feelings into account and make them feel heard.
YES: Encourage the person to undergo treatment. Research what treatment options are available and what are the best options.
NO: Wait. Seeking treatment is the first step to recovery, and the sooner someone starts treatment, the better the outcome.
College campuses are required to provide some of the basic mental health services.
College counseling centers: College counseling services are generally included in the cost of tuition and can be very good. They can also provide referrals for more specialized care if needed. Some schools may also have student-led eating disorder support groups or other helpful programs.
Outside Professionals: While campus services can be very helpful, eating disorders often require more serious treatment than college counseling centers can provide.
College Administrative Services: Some students may need to take time off to focus on treatment. If this is the case, parents and students can work with the university to discuss the best options.
Online communities can be excellent support resources for people struggling with eating disorders and their loved ones. Finding a place to get support or web based therapies or participate in real-life meetings can be a good way to boost recovery.