Eating disorders are serious mental health conditions marked by an unhealthy relationship with food. The three main types are anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder.
There are a lot of factors that increase the risk of developing an eating disorder, such as family history, having other mental illnesses such as anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder, stress, peer pressure, and/or emotional health issues such as low self-esteem or perfectionism. Statistically, teenage girls and women are more likely to have an eating disorder, but it can affect teenage boys and men as well. Women with an eating disorder are also more likely to die by suicide than women with any other mental illness.
Treatment for an eating disorder uses a variety of techniques including therapy, medication, and nutritional counseling. A family-based approach called the Maudsley Method is especially effective for teenagers with an eating disorder.
Telling someone with an eating disorder to "just eat" is about as helpful as telling someone who is drowning to "just float." Instead, reach out with compassion and without judgement. You can get more information about how to help from the National Eating Disorders Association.
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