Raising awareness

EDITOR: February is National Eating Disorder Awareness Month.

With America's fight against obesity, many people forget to acknowledge those who are on the other end of the spectrum, who are just as ill mentally and psychically.

Eating Disorders do not discriminate against gender, age, ethnicity, rich, poor, attractive, average, popular or the social outcast. Anyone can become victim.

Eating Disorders are a mental illness. They have the highest mortality rate of any other mental illness. Statistics show that individuals between the ages of 15-24 suffering from the illness are 12 times more likely to die from the mental illness than from any other cause of death.

Some believe eating disorders are caused by the media. The flawless models you see in the magazines, the perfect bodied entertainers you see on the small and big screens and the musicians you see in music videos. In truth, only a small part of these images and their reaction from society cause someone to develop the illness.

A lot of the causes are from environmental issues growing up, the attitudes of those who were role models to the individual at a young age, if the person was bullied in school, genetics and usually another psychological disorder such as depression or anxiety.

Unsatisfied with ones' life, especially when they feel it can not be controlled, usually leads to low self esteem and the person takes matters into their own hands. Often this is by deciding to "better" themselves from the outside to feel better within. This is not always a bad thing, but when linked to something much deeper it can become an addiction - a very dangerous addiction that will make their loved ones suffer along with them in the process of seeing someone they love literally falling apart in front of their own eyes and having nothing they can do. You can not force someone to eat.

Another statistic shows that 25 percent of pathological dieters progress to a full-blown eating disorder. Scary enough, in other statistics done in studies it was revealed that 42 percent of 1st-3rd graders want to be thinner. The common youngest age to develop an eating disorder used to be 13-17 years of age. Now the new statistics show that the youngest age to develop an eating disorder are the ages of 9-12.

Eating Disorders were once to be looked at as a "women's" disease. It has been recently revealed that 10 million males in the United States alone will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lives.

The two most commonly known eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa.

Recently another type of eating disorder has been getting acknowledged. Since it is so different from the previous two mentioned it was often overlooked. That disorder is Binge Eating Disorder (B.E.D). As the other two mentioned are restrictive with food, B.E.D. is the complete opposite, using food for comfort with over compulsive eating. This can lead to obesity and the problems that are associated with it.

There are many health problems that can happen due to an eating disorder such as Amenorrhea, Edema, Electrolyte imbalance, Osteoporosis, Rupture of the Esophagus, Dental erosion, Hair loss, Lanugo, Infertility, Depression and other serious health consequences that may end up becoming permanent in the individual's life. The last being death, which is usually due to failure of the heart.

Many individuals do not get the help they need because insurance companies refuse to pay or will only pay for treatment for a short amount of time. Time that is not nearly enough for the individual to come close to wanting recovery and getting themselves back to a healthier state of mind and body. Many families are left discouraged with the lack of help they are getting for their loved ones who are suffering from the mental illness.

Some parents have had to bury their own child due to losing them to this mental illness.

The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) is the top company in raising awareness and getting the funding towards helping out individuals and their families who are seeking treatment for their eating disorder.

To find out more about NEDA, Eating Disorders, Raising awareness or information on how to receive help for yourself or a family member who may be suffering please visit http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/ Facts for this article were provided by nedawareness.org, Wikipedia and nationaleatingdisorders.org.

Isriah Landmesser

Ulster