Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2015: Speak Up and Speak Out

By Deborah R. Glasofer, PhD
Reviewed by B. Timothy Walsh, MD

This week marks Eating Disorders Awareness Week. It is a time to speak up about eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Many of us fall prey to messages about what is and is not beautiful or healthy. For people with eating disorders, however, the problem extends far beyond any messages heard from the outside world. Individuals with eating disorders struggle – perhaps because of their biology, or as a result of persistent behavioral patterns – with critical messages from within that define health or beauty narrowly or with great distortion.

Eating disorders do not discriminate. They impact women and men of all ages, races, and sizes, although they most often affect girls and women between 12 and 35 years old.

Eating disorders do not tread lightly. These are dangerous illnesses characterized by behaviors (e.g., severely restrictive eating, purging) with potentially life-threatening physical consequences. They can negatively impact psychological health – obsessing about food, eating, or body size, rigidity in thinking, overall anxiety and mood – and carry an increased risk of suicide.

Listen to learn more about the latest breakthroughs in eating disorders understanding and treatment, including cognitive neuroscience and pharmaceutical research. Read up to learn more from the Columbia Center for Eating Disorders, a part of the New York State Psychiatric Institute, about spotting an eating disorder and approaching a child (of any age), a teammate, friend, or loved one about whom you are concerned. Listen in to learn more about who’s who on an eating disorder treatment team, and differences between treatment setting options.

Deborah R. Glasofer, PhD, is a clinical psychologist at the Columbia Center for Eating Disorders and an assistant professor of psychology in the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry.

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