Summer is here and for most people that can entail; going to the beach with friends, hanging out by the pool, endless summer cookouts, shorts and tank tops, and the anxieties that can arise along with wearing a swimsuit. If you are one of the millions with an eating disorder, this time of year may make it even harder to manage your symptoms. Body image issues often resurface and maintaining a healthy relationship with food becomes more challenging.
When people develop eating disorders, it really isn’t about food. Anorexia and bulimia can usually be traced to an underlying emotional issues, where control over food or food as comfort as a way to self-medicate. Often, the condition that leads to restricting food or binging and purging is really anxiety.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness is the United States, affecting approximately 40 million adults age 18 and older (18% of the U.S. population). These disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment.
Teens and young adults struggling with an eating disorder, such as anorexia or bulimia, often find it difficult to ask for help. They often make an excuse to themselves “it’s not the right time” to address the disorder due to school or other obligations. Feelings of embarrassment and shame can accompany eating disorders that make the sufferer reluctant to seek treatment during the school year as they do not wish to disclose their issue and risk judgment from peers.
Compounding things even more, eating disorders often accelerate as the temperature rises. Summer is particularly difficult if you struggle with your body image. Warm weather means shedding the heavy winter clothes and heading to the beach or backyard pool. Unfortunately, for many young women desperate to take off a few winter pounds or already actively restricting their food intake, this time of year can lead them down a dangerous path to unhealthy behaviors.
Were you aware that as many as 10 million women and girls suffer from anorexia and/or bulimia, in the United States alone? Additionally, another 25 million people in the U.S. struggle with binge eating disorders. The statistics are alarming. However, what is even more surprising is how few of these women seek out professional treatment, and how good those that suffer from eating disorders are at hiding their affliction.
Self-injury is defined as the intentional, direct injury of body tissue without suicidal intent. The most common form of self-harm involves cutting on the skin using a sharp object and is becoming more prevalent in the U.S., especially in those with eating disorders. In fact, in the most general sense of the term, eating disorders are a form of self-harm to a female’s own health and body.