Eating disorders are serious medical conditions that can have devastating health consequences if not stopped or treated in a timely manner. The most common types of eating disorders include bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa and binge-eating disorder. These three potentially lethal conditions involve the obsession with food and a preoccupation with body image and weight loss and weight gain. Eating disorders are a form of addiction.
With the advancement of technology and the widespread access to social media, eating disorders have only become more prevalent. In recent years, anorexia and bulimia have gained popularity through the proliferation of sites, blogs and pictures, not only supporting, but encouraging these diseases. The term mostly associated with this type of propaganda is “thinspiration”.
What is Thinspiration?
Thinspiration (thin + inspiration) or “thinspo” for short, refers to the use of photographs and positive messages that support weight loss. While this may seem harmless, many have fallen prey to the obsessive need to look thinner and more like their favorite model or celebrity. When someone has an eating disorder, these images can be especially dangerous. Many pro anorexic (pro-ana) and pro-bulimia (pro-mia) websites depict unrealistic weight loss goals and body shapes. They promote extreme thinness and unhealthy lifestyle choices, including extreme exercise routines, crash dieting tips and even advice about how to use laxatives or vomiting to attain your ideal goal weight. Many of the images on these sights portray before and after shots, as well as frail, rail-thin women whose bones protrude unnaturally.
Not only do pro-ana and pro-mia supporters believe that their bodies must be thin to be perfect, but they form friendships and support groups in which they encourage one another to continue losing weight and stick to their unrealistic and unhealthy goals.
Like with any chronic disease, eating disorders carry with them some significant side effects. Some of the health complications posed by anorexia nervosa include:
- sleeping problems
- irregular heartbeat
- stomach pain
- low blood pressure
Bulimia nervosa symptoms include:
- damage to teeth and gums
- loss of menstruation
- mouth and throat sores
- scars on hands and knuckles
- Irregular heartbeat
- digestive problems
- problems with bowel functioning
These disorders can also have severe side effects including heart complications, thoughts of suicide or suicidal behavior, failure of multiple organs, bone decay, depression, damage to the kidneys, stunted growth, and even death.
Eating disorders affect both men and women, young and old. Women, in general, tend to be more susceptible to the pit falls associated with these conditions. Due to the constant barrage of images featuring thin models and actresses on TV, magazines and the internet, many girls and women are under the assumption that thinness is natural and expected of them. If you have a loved one who is suffering from an eating disorder, it is important that you seek help for them now. The longer the disease persists, the more they are at risk of developing serious health complications.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.