Eating disorders are one of the most common issues experienced by people all over the world, but often the least talked about. An estimated 30 million people are currently in the throes of an eating disorder, in the United States alone. Anorexia is one of many eating disorders, affecting people of all ages, backgrounds, and genders. But with the proper knowledge of the statistics behind anorexia, early intervention, and treatment, people with anorexia can get back to leading healthy and happy lives.
The Research, Facts, and Statistics Behind Anorexia
1. Anorexia Can Increase the Risk of Suicide or Death
For teenagers and young adults, anorexia and other eating disorders can increase the odds of suicide by up to 32 times. Many anorexia clients feel hopeless and as the number one fatal mental illness in young people, eating disorders maintain a mortality rate that is 12 times higher than the mortality rate of all other causes of death within that age group. Regardless of age, every 1 in 5 anorexia deaths is a result of suicide. Without treatment, up to 20 percent of all eating disorder cases result in death.
2. It Is One of the Most Common Illnesses Among Teens
Though it has been found that older age groups are experiencing an incline in eating disorder diagnoses, young adults and teenagers are the most likely to develop and suffer from anorexia. In fact, anorexia is the third most common illness experienced among teens. Anywhere from 1-5 percent of all females age 15-22 will develop anorexia, with an average onset age of 17. This can be associated with the cultural and societal pressures associated with fitting in, social media, and low self-esteem.
3. Anorexia Affects All Genders, But Not Equally
While gender is not always a factor, research has shown that women and young girls are much more likely to develop an eating disorder than their male counterparts. Almost 10 percent of all women in the country will suffer from anorexia at some point in their lifetime. The odds for males developing anorexia is a third of that, with only 10 percent of all anorexia sufferers male.
4. Risk Can Be Highly Related to Genetics
Though there can be many risk factors and considerations that increase your risk of developing an eating disorder, research has found that the largest risk may be your family history. Genetics, DNA, and family history are believed to be the largest considerations of statistics behind anorexia in factoring one’s risk, with anywhere from 50-80 percent of a person’s risk stemming from genetics.
5. Mood and Anxiety Disorders Often Coincide With Anorexia
Much like other conditions, diseases, and illnesses, anorexia is often experienced in conjunction with other problems. Many people with eating disorders will receive a dual diagnosis. It has been found that almost half of all anorexia clients are also diagnosed with anxiety disorders like social phobia and obsessive-compulsive disorder, while anywhere from 30-50 percent of all clients are diagnosed with a mood disorder like depression.
Anorexia Basics: Definition, Symptoms, and Treatment
Definition, Risk Factors, and Consequences
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that is characterized by a person’s obsession with getting the ideal body shape or weight. Rather than eating a healthy diet, people with anorexia will develop unhealthy relationships with food by limiting food intake, to achieve their idea of the “perfect body.” When you limit your food intake or quit eating altogether, it can have serious consequences on the body, mind, and soul.
No one is certain of the cause of eating disorders, but certain factors can put you at a greater risk for developing anorexia, such as genetics and family history. People with low self-esteem, social difficulties, and those who feel pressure from culture and society are at an increased risk of developing anorexia as well.
When anorexia and other eating disorders go untreated, they can have dire consequences. Anorexia can lead to malnutrition; in-turn creating fatigue, irregular heartbeats, dizziness, a slowing metabolism, and problems with the kidneys, liver, and thyroid. Anorexia can also create problems with the way your brain functions, affecting how quickly you can think and react, how well you concentrate, and how well you can balance your mood. When left untreated for too long, anorexia and its consequences could lead to death.
Signs and Symptoms
Those with anorexia may partake in specific behaviors to reach their goals, such as extreme dieting, the use of pills, intense exercise, and vomiting after eating. Aside from the obvious behaviors associated with anorexia, you may also experience the following signs of anorexia:
- A fear of gaining weight, constantly checking your weight
- A feeling of guilt after eating
- Feeling concerned, worried, or depressed about your weight or body shape
- Intense exercising, dieting, or using other substances to lose weight
- Having a poor perception of your body/weight, comparing yourself to others
- Isolation, depression, or difficulties fulfilling responsibilities
- Abnormal or absence of menstrual cycles in females
Intervention and Treatment
It is important to act early if you believe you or someone you love is experiencing the symptoms of anorexia. With early intervention and treatment, people with anorexia can go on to lead normal and healthy lives. In fact, the majority of clients who receive treatment begin to restore weight, reduce their purging behaviors, and increase their quality of life.
Treatments are typically determined on a patient-by-patient basis, based on each person’s specific needs. Treatments include identifying any underlying issues (depression, anxiety disorders, etc.), as well as addressing the purpose and goal of a person’s anorexia. Trained professionals can help you learn new skills to redirect your behaviors and teach you how to effectively cope with your problems and feelings. These treatments can be provided within residential settings, as well as out-patient therapies and programs.
By recognizing the symptoms and understanding the affect anorexia has on all of us, you can prevent the disastrous consequences of eating disorders from happening to you or someone you love. With early intervention and treatment, people with anorexia can minimize the lasting effects and start to enjoy life again. The trusted professionals at Center for Discovery can help you with any questions or concerns you may have regarding anorexia, eating disorders, and how to begin treatment right away.