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4 Early Warning Signs of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. They reach every ethnicity, religion, age, tax bracket, and sex. They don’t discriminate.

  • In a classroom of nine and ten-year-old girls, 40% would tell you they were on a diet to lose weight (U.S. News and World Report).
  • In 2007, a study reported 25% of anorexia and bulimia cases are males (Hudson, Hiripi, Pope, & Kessler, 2007).
  • 13% of women over 50 engage in eating disorder behaviors (Gagne, D. A., Von Holle, A., Brownley, K. A., Runfola, C. D., Hofmeier, S., Branch, K. E., & Bulik, C. M., 2012).
  • Lifetime prevalence of binge eating disorder is 3.5% in women, and 2.0% in men (Biological Psychiatry, February 2007 edition)

Unfortunately, only 1 in 10 receives treatment for their condition. For some people they’ve struggled their whole lives, others developed an eating disorder much later in life. Regardless of the timing, early detection is key.

Early warning signs of an eating disorder

A recent large-scale study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry by Swansea University found early warning signs that can help doctors detect eating disorders much sooner. The research team examined health records from 15, 558 people in Wales who had been diagnosed with eating disorders between 1990 and 2017. In the two years before their diagnosis they discovered the individuals had:

  1. Higher levels of other mental disorders such as personality or alcohol disorders and depression
  2. Higher levels of accidents, injuries, and self-harm
  3. Higher rate of prescription for central nervous system drugs such as antipsychotics and antidepressants
  4. Higher rate of prescriptions for gastrointestinal drugs (e.g. for constipation and upset stomach) and for dietetic supplements (e.g. multivitamins, iron)

What does this mean for recovery?

These results can help doctors be on the lookout for early warning signs. As with any mental illness, early detection is better for the health of the individual and family. For instance, when adolescents with anorexia nervosa are given family-based treatment within the first three years of the illness onset they have a much greater likelihood of recovery (Lock, Agras, Bryson, & Kraemer, 2005; Loeb et al., 2007; Russell, George, Dare, & Eisler, 1987; Treasure & Russell, 2011).

Whole Family Healing

ARISE® believes family support (whether blood-related or chosen) is one of the keys to recovery. Many times after leaving a treatment facility, the individual can find it hard to cope with everyday challenges and find themselves back where they started.

With ARISE® Comprehensive Care, everyone (including the Person of Concern) collaborate for a minimum of 6 months to work on life skills and healing. This work helps them and their family address their complete bio-psycho-social-cultural-spiritual spectrum of health. The focus may be on communication skills, managing normal life cycle transitions, stress management techniques, resolving unresolved grief and family issues, healthy diet and eating patterns, rebuilding social lives and repairing damaged relationships.

Recovery is possible

With treatment 60 – 85% of people recover. Families who participate in ARISE® Comprehensive Care meetings have great success in helping maintain their loved one’s success into long-term recovery and improving their family relationships. For many people living in recovery from their eating disorder is a lifelong struggle, but recovery is possible.

If you are interested in learning more about ARISE® Comprehensive Care, please email or call us at 1-877-229-5462.

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    July 19, 2019 at 9:50 am

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