With the world’s current obsession with maintaining a certain body image upheld by society, it’s no surprise that at any given time, 20 million women and 10 million men are dealing with an eating disorder. And contrary to popular belief, eating orders don’t happen by choice.

In fact, eating disorders are a type of mental health illness that has the highest mortality rate. People who have eating disorders may suffer from other types of mental health illnesses such as depression and body dysmorphic disorder or get medical complications due to the disorder.

Fortunately, nonprofit organizations like the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)help raise awareness about eating disorders and their corresponding effects on the lives of people who are diagnosed with them. They also disseminate evidence-based information about these disorders to the public.

It’s important to acknowledge the goals of such initiatives because they provide a sliver of hope in an otherwise cruel world. Many people are quick to dismiss those diagnosed with eating disorders because they believe it is a choice. In reality, it’s an illness that is difficult to cure but not impossible.

Until now, getting the right kind of help can sometimes be inaccessible because there aren’t many organizations that provide support. Eating disorders remain as widely misunderstood illnesses, which is why raising awareness is of utmost importance. So you should do your part and familiarize yourself with the common eating disorders.

Bulimia Nervosa

People diagnosed with bulimia nervosa often undergo a cycle of overeating and purging through self-induced vomiting, laxatives, or over-exercising. Recovering from this disorder may take a long time, but with the help of professionals at bulimia nervosa treatment centers, hope is not lost.

Bulimia nervosa has effects invisible to the naked eye, such as the inability to sleep and self-imposed isolation from others which can damage their relationships. This disorder can also cause life-threatening complications such as internal bleeding, infertility, heart attack, or suicidal thoughts.

Anorexia Nervosa

People diagnosed with anorexia nervosa are often characterized by their obsession with maintaining a certain body shape, weight, and food intake through self-imposed starvation or over-exercising. They may also eat meals regularly but will resort to purging afterward to maintain their weight goal.

Anorexia can have serious impacts on a person’s self-image and worldview. In addition to that, self-imposed starvation can leave serious irreversible consequences for the individual’s physical well-being. Anorexia nervosa can also cause infertility, brain damage, and the shutdown of major body organs.

Binge Eating

People diagnosed with a binge-eating disorder often find themselves consuming more food than they usually eat in a short amount of time. Having this disorder can make a person feel as if they are losing control over their behavior, followed by feelings of shame, disgust, or guilt.

Binge-eating can also be linked to severalhealth problems, such as arthritis, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and sleep apnea. This disorder can take a toll not only on a person’s physical health but also on their mental well-being.

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED)

The OSFED is an eating disorder that has an abnormal effect on a person’s behavior toward food, eating, and body image. People who have OSFED may require the same level of treatment and support as those with diagnosed eating disorders, although their situation doesn’t meet the criteria of a formal diagnosis.

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

The ARFID is a more intense version of “picky eating” because the non-consumption of food that contains the appropriate nutritional and/or energy needs of the body can have serious repercussions. These can include abrupt weight loss, nutrient deficiency, dependence on supplements, and impaired psychosocial functioning.

Pica

Pica is defined as the inability to control the urge to consume non-food items that do not hold nutritional value, such as paint, chalk, paper, and dirt, among others. It can happen over a period of at least one month or more and can lead to serious health consequences.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)

The BDD often occurs with other eating disorders, specifically because it affects the person’s body image. It can spark a dissatisfied fixation on a certain body part, which can lead to hating one’s body, depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.

There’s nothing wrong with not knowing everything there is to know about eating disorders and their causes, symptoms, or effects. However, it is your responsibility to be wary about what you say and how you treat others diagnosed with such disorders. Plus, it won’t hurt to educate yourself now and then.