edical Issues and Eating Disorders


By Nancy Kolodny, MSW, LCSW

Eating disorders are very serious. Anorexia and bulimia will eventually create problems in every aspect of your life: physical, emotional, social, intellectual, even economic. Eating disorders can last for as little as one year or less, to decades or more. They usually get progressively worse unless they are faced and treated. In long-term situations, the intensity of the disorder can vary along a continuum from debilitating, life-threatening symptoms to mildly annoying ones that are not life-threatening per se, but negatively impact your quality of life.

When an eating disorder is in its early stages and the thoughts and behaviors are relatively easy to hide from others, you can fool yourself and the people around you by downplaying its seriousness. You can act as if what you're doing is socially acceptable and totally normal. But later on, once you're “into” the disorder, the seriousness of your situation becomes clear, especially when it's time to stop either the dieting, bingeing, or the binge-purge pattern. Some people can't stop because they are mentally and physically addicted to their disorders. Others don't want to stop and resist treatment to help them do so. The reasons for this are complicated and will be discussed throughout this book. But whatever the reasons people have for becoming eating disordered, the results can be disastrous to physical and mental health, to family harmony, to friendships and relationships, to school or work performance, and to self-esteem.