Mental Health Awareness: Eating Disorders

The next few Caring Corner articles will bring information about some of the most common mental illnesses.  Sometimes we are too close to the situation to recognize when we or someone we love is losing their mental balance.  It is often easier to ignore or deny a concern than to talk about it honestly or seek care.  But God promises to walk with us THROUGH the dark times so we need not fear taking the first steps toward a healthy life.

This pandemic year has exacerbated many emotional and mental illnesses, one of great concern is eating disorders.  Eating disorders are complex mental health conditions that often require the intervention of medical and psychological experts to alter their course.  Although eating disorders can affect people of any gender at any life stage, they're most often reported in adolescents and young women. In fact, up to 13% of youth may experience at least one eating disorder by the age of 20.

Eating disorders clearly illustrate the close links between emotional and physical health.  When a person struggles with anxiety, depression, tensions at home or school, OCD, low self esteem, bullying, alcohol or drug abuse,  they may begin to try to control their life by obsessing about what they eat, overdoing exercise, and be abnormally conscious of their weight and body.  This can spiral out of control and can become life threatening if untreated.

The most common types are anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder.  Anorexia causes a person to limit their caloric intake very irrationally,  which can lead to heart failure, muscle loss, osteoporosis, loss of menstruation and overall fine body hair.. The person will still see themselves as "fat" even when they become severely emaciated.  

Bulimia refers to people who binge eat large amounts of food and then purge by forcing themselves to vomit or by overuse of laxatives. They are secretive and may not be noticably underweight so it may require careful observation to recognize it. This behavior can damage the esophagus, tooth enamel, cause heart failure, rupture of the esophagus and pancreatitis.
People with binge eating disorder have episodes of binge eating in which they feel totally out of control and eat huge quantities to the point of great discomfort. They do not purge but feel very guilty.  It is a chronic condition and can lead to severe obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.   It can start in childhood.

Treatment is tailored to the individual need and likely will include a team of doctors, nutritionist, nurses and psychotherapists.  Medicines such as antidepressants, antipsychotics or mood stabilizers can help treat the depression and anxiety that accompany the disorder.

Support can start through NEDA- National Eating Disorder Association
For 24/7 crisis support text: NEDA to 741-741
Find resources and treatment options at:
Take a confidential screening at :
National Eating Disorders Helpline:
Prayer of hope:  Break into my confusion, Lord.  Help me to know who I am and what I am meant to be.  Guide, uphold and strengthen me as I leave behind the world of limits and labels.  Guide, uphold and strengthen me as together we create a world of infinite possibility.  Rev, Susan Gregg-Schroeder

For more Mental Health support information visit our Mental Health page.

Share this post