Eating disorders are legitimate mental illnesses which pose a series of serious risks. Health complications, severe mental distress, and death, can all result from enduring anorexia nervosa. Of any mental illness, anorexia nervosa leads in the highest rate of death. Not substance use disorders, with fatal overdose, or depression with high risk of suicide, compares to the amount of death caused by anorexia. The eating behaviors of anorexia nervosa can cause internal organs to fail, the heart to weaken, and it can lead to suicidal attempts. In the same way substance abuse is a slow walk toward death, anorexia nervosa is the same. Depleting the body of essential nutrients and leaving it malnourished makes it impossible to survive physically. Mentally, the pain, shame, guilt, and obsession can make it feel impossible to continue living. According to Stuff in New Zealand, “Rates of suicide among those with an eating disorder- anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder- are up to 31 times higher than the general population.”
Why Eating Disorders Are Distressing
Alcoholics don’t have to drink alcohol for hydration. Drug addicts don’t have to do drugs for recreation. People with eating disorders have to eat to survive. When one of life’s most important components is compromised by an obsessive mental illness, it is conflicting. Whereas drinking and doing drugs becomes a matter of survival in the brain due to the neurobiology of addiction, not eating or other eating disorder behaviors becomes a matter of survival. Yet, eating is a matter of survival. Caught in the crossfires between an obsession with perfection, a fear of food, and relentless self-punishment, people with eating disorders want to get better, yet often feel they cannot. Recovery from eating disorders is possible with treatment and therapy.
Conflicting research illustrates recovery from anorexia and other eating disorders. On the one hand, research has indicated that anorexia specifically has a high rate of recovery. Other studies have revealed that full recovery from anorexia is strong 22 years later. However, brain imaging studies showed that there are parts of the brain still active in eating disorder behavior years after recovery takes place. Only recently did research surface revealing that eating disorders, especially anorexia, might have a genetic link, which passes eating disorders from one generation to the next.
If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
Eating disorders are commonly co-occurring with other mental health disorders and substance use disorders. Harmony Place offers the best in private luxury residential treatment with specialized therapy for eating disorder recovery. For a private consultation, call us today at 1-855-627-1417.