Do Eating Disorders Have Permanent Side Effects?

Do Eating Disorders Have Permanent Side Effects?All eating disorders are dangerous. Anorexia, bulimia and binge eating are the most lethal psychological disorders a person can face. While many of the troubling symptoms of these conditions can be eliminated with careful treatment and recovery, some may have a lasting or even permanent effect.

Understanding Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are caused by chemical changes in a person’s brain. Eating and starving both generate spikes of different naturally occurring chemicals, and some people are more sensitive to these spikes than others. Their brain craves these reactions and drives them to repeat the behavior that caused them. Friends and family are often frustrated and heartbroken as they see someone they love wasting away, engaging in unhealthy activities related to food or becoming dangerously obese. The solution seems as simple as no longer engaging in the destructive behavior, but the psychological compulsion to engage in that behavior is more powerful than their rational mind.

Potential Permanent Side Effects of Eating Disorders

People with eating disorders may hide their condition for months or even years. They don’t understand that they have a problem or how serious it is. Anorexics may fear obesity, even as they waste away. If left untreated, these disorders lead to a long, slow and painful death. An individual’s ability to fully recover from the mental and physical effects of an eating disorder often depends on how soon he or she is treated. Symptoms of eating disorders may become permanent, and they include the following:

  • Muscle loss
  • Organ failure
  • Destruction of the esophagus or stomach lining
  • Bone loss and dental damage
  • Malnutrition
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes

Individuals who develop eating disorders will likely carry the psychological effects with them for the rest of their lives. They must remain on guard against relapse by carefully avoiding triggers and remaining accountable and transparent with their friends and loved ones.

Eating Disorder Treatment and Recovery

During treatment for eating disorders patients are given careful nutritional support as their body slowly and gradually readjusts to the proper presence of food. Depending on the stage of the disease this can take weeks or months to accomplish. Even after individuals’ bodies are physically returned to health, the psychological effects of the disease will need to be addressed. This is accomplished gradually through the following therapeutic techniques:

  • Intensive personal counseling
  • Support group sessions
  • Education
  • Behavioral accountability
  • Introduction to healthy coping skills and relapse prevention techniques
  • Emotional support
  • Positive reinforcement

The rehabilitation process is available in both outpatient and residential forms. Recovery professionals can determine the best approach for each patient.

Finding the Best Help for Eating Disorders

If you are concerned about your eating habits, or if someone you love is in need of help, please call our toll-free helpline now. We are standing by any time of day or night and are ready to answer questions about eating disorders and to connect you with the best recovery program for your needs. Don’t wait another day. Call today.