February 21 – 27 is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. 28.8 million people experience an eating disorder at some point in their lives. While many people understand that eating disorders generally include a distorted body image and obsession with food, it’s also important to note that eating disorders are 50-80% genetically based and are not a choice.
It’s also very common for people with an eating disorder to have one or more co-occuring conditions. A study of more than 2400 individuals hospitalized for an eating disorder found that 97% had one or more co-occurring conditions, including major depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, PTSD or substance abuse. Many times, disordered eating behaviors (including dieting) can be precursors to eating disorders. When people develop a preoccupation with food and exercise that begins to impact their quality of life, it’s important to identify the intentions behind the behaviors to understand if the habits are becoming unhealthy.
Disordered eating can affect individuals of any age, gender, race or physical appearance. Many individuals struggling with an eating disorder may feel controlled by their extreme thoughts regarding food and body image, and struggle to change their behaviors without professional help.
If you or a loved one are struggling with disordered eating or exercise, anxiety, or depression, please reach out to us for help and support. We are here to help with kindness and compassion, always.