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  • Isara Moriya

Mindfull X Shield - An Introduction to Eating Disorders

“Eating disorder” is a fairly common phrase, but how many people actually know what it is? Most people associate eating disorders with being thin and barely eating, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Eating disorders (ED) are mental health conditions characterized by severe and irregular eating disturbances created by stress and an overflow of emotions. Eating disorders are often ignored because of possible public embarrassment, backlash, and shame. However, symptoms should not be overlooked and be taken seriously as eating disorders have severe and possible life-long consequences. Eating disorders don’t just revolve around physical appearance but also destroy an individual’s social life and mentality.

Often, EDs coincide with other debilitating mental distresses such as depression, panic disorders, and anxiety. Eating disorders are significant medical conditions that affect over 20 million women and 10 million men across the United States. Anyone can develop an eating disorder: no matter their age, gender, sex, or body. However, studies have shown it is most likely to surface among teenage girls and young women. With the current infectious image of perfection spread by social media and toxic social environments, more teenagers have begun to develop eating disorders, especially as they are the most vulnerable and often exposed to impossible demands from parents and friends.

There are many causes of eating disorders, some relating to genetics and biological factors. In fact, 28-74% of the risk for eating disorders is through genetic heritability. However, it is also essential to be aware of the causes related to mental health, where eating disorders are caused by low self-esteem, bullying, and social pressure. Furthermore, the internet does not show a diverse range of bodies where everybody is appreciated. Thinness and muscularity are ideal, which promotes the image of a “perfect body” and can lead to body dissatisfaction and disordered eating. Even among people with eating disorders, less than 6% of people are medically diagnosed as “underweight.” Abuse and trauma can also lead to eating disorders, which are seen as a coping mechanism for years of rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence.

Just because a person looks “healthy” on the outside does not equate to a healthy mind or heart. It’s a scary fact that eating disorders are one of the deadliest mental illnesses and that 26% of those with EDs attempt suicide. But contrary to these negative statistics, a relatively high percentage of people recover from eating disorders. In fact, my mother is one of those many people.

The first step to recovery is to identify if you have one and which type. This is why it's crucial that people do not disregard some noticeable symptoms and take action early. It is okay to be vulnerable; seeking help from others and informing your friends and family does not make you weak. On the flip side, if you notice a close person changing, or feeling distant, be supportive and approach them about it. Patience is key to both recovery and support.

Writer: Isara Moriya




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