Dangers of Eating Disorders & How You Can Reach Out For Help Has something about your friend changed lately? At first she looked a little leaner — great! Then maybe she started dropping weight fast. Worried? We don’t blame you. Your friend may have an eating disorder. Eating disorders are abnormal eating habits that can threaten your health or even your life. It is very serious. Find out the common signs, health risks and how you can reach out for help.
Signs of an Eating Disorder There are two main types of eating disorders: anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Girls with either can show these signs:
Sudden change in eating habits: Does a friend suddenly say “no” to some of their favorite foods? Or does she always have an excuse for not eating, like she’s not hungry, she just ate or she feels sick? On the reverse, does she binge eat? Does she eat alone instead of with you and friends? Low confidence: Your friend may look great, but she won’t believe you when you tell her. She seems to put herself, her weight and her looks down a lot. Extra exercise and focus on her weight: Is your friend always at the gym these days? Or at home doing the same exercise DVDs? Does she pick working out over hanging out? Has she become overly concerned about her weight? General withdrawal: Where did the bubbly girl you once know go? Have her mood swings become the new norm?
If you notice any of these signs, look to talk to a trusted adult about your concerns for your friend.
Health Risks Eating disorders don’t just affect weight — they affect the whole body. To be healthy, your body needs nourishment from food. It uses it for energy. Here are some of the health risks and dangers of an eating disorder:
Malnutrition (lacking nutrition) Dehydration Chronic fatigue Insomnia Depression Swelling Low blood pressure Dry skin and hair, brittle hair and nails, hair loss Liver failure Infertility Seizures And many more
How to Help First, talk to a trusted adult with your concerns for your friend. The adult can help determine what to do next. If your friend does have an eating disorder, her recovery will take some time and might include therapy, medication and maybe hospitalization. It’s important that they see a professional for help. The professional will have the expertise to find the right help.
For additional information or to talk to an expert, you could contact these organizations:
National Eating Disorders Association by calling 800-931-2237 International Mental Health Referral Service by calling 800-THERAPIST or 800-843-7274 National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associate Disorders (ANAD) by calling 847-831-3438 www.anred.com —Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders Rader Programs by calling 800-841-1515 Referrals to Eating Disorder Specialists (US and Canada): The Renfrew Center by calling 800-RENFREW or 800-736-3739 Looking for help for eating disorders? Get helpful information and advice from BeingGirl.