How many people will struggle with an eating disorder during their lifetime? It’s a more complicated question than you might think. Since the vast majority of people with eating disorders either never seek formal treatment for their disorder or are never formally diagnosed (Hart et al., 2011), researchers can’t just search medical records.
The term “eating disorder” covers a wide range of unique mental illnesses. The common characteristic that they share is causing some type of harmful food-centered behavior that includes either food restriction or excessive eating. Eating disorders can lead to harmful physical effects and even death. According to ANAD (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders), eating disorders are among the deadliest mental health disorders, second only to opioid overdose. 10,200 people die each year from complications of an eating disorder.
One of the most constructive ways to navigate your recovery journey is the basic understanding that you are not alone. It can be hard to ask for help for many reasons. However, healthcare professionals, loved ones, and the support of those who have gone through similar struggles can make a difference in your journey.
If you haven’t found people in your current support circle, consider reaching out to a professional to get their opinion and support. They will have tools and resources to support you in a way that feels comfortable and validating – because you are worthy of getting the support you need just the way you are!