National Eating Disorders Association
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Understanding Eating Disorders

When Dr. Theresa Larson was in the Marines, she began to suffer from an eating disorder. For fear of losing her job, she looked towards outside help that told her what she already knew; she could not open up about her disease. She continued to stay in the military, but when she realized she needed to get help, and opened up, she received backlash rather than help. Larson was questioned about her disease, and was unable to obtain help that understood her disease. She was discharged and was sent to doctors, but none of them specialized in eating disorders.

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Disordered eating and dangerous weight-loss behaviors have unfortunately become normalized in our culture. Dieting, “clean eating” and compulsive exercise are often precursors to full-blown eating disorders. This discussion will shed light on how our understanding of "health" has gotten so warped and what we can do to reclaim a more balanced perspective. Stacey Rosenfeld, Ph.D., CGP, @drstaceyla; Cristin Runfola, PhD, @crunfola; Jenni Schaefer, Author and NEDA Ambassador, @JenniSchaefer were featured in this important discussion.

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Anorexia nervosa, bulimia and binge eating disorder affect up to 5% of young women, are associated with high use of medical resources, but often go unrecognized in medical settings. Men with eating disorders are even more likely to elude detection. All physicians should be alert to signs and symptoms of these relatively common behavioral disorders. Most cases respond to specialist treatment, although rates of medical morbidity, functional impairment and mortality are high, especially for anorexia nervosa, which has the highest mortality of any psychiatric condition.

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Do you overspend and overeat? Deprive yourself of possessions as well as of meals?   If so, there may be a connection between how you spend money and what’s going on with food.  

Many behaviors with food and finances are strategies to cope with uncomfortable or intolerable thoughts, emotions and conflicts, including, but not limited to, the following:

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The person sitting next to you in class or in the cubicle across from you might be suffering from a severe eating disorder. How do I know? Because that person suffering was me.

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EATING DISORDERS ARE FAMILY DISORDERS

Eating disorders are family disorders. Keynote speaker at this year’s National Eating Disorders Association Conference, Dr Thomas Insel, spoke from the heart.

The Federal government shutdown meant he could not speak as director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) so Dr Insel, the father of two children born in the late 1970s, spoke as a parent.

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