08/29/2012 (press release: FrankieCervantes) // Denver, Colorado, United States // Frankie Cervantes
The everyday stresses of college life can impact ones physical, mental and emotional health. Eating disorders in college students is increasing among both male and female students due to numerous factors including the stress of transition, academic demands, peer pressure, and cultural and media influences. In fact, the Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, Inc. (ANAD) reports that 91 percent of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through excessive dieting.
There are many misconceptions about eating disorders. Eating disorders may develop as a way to gain control over and cope with emotional problems, stress, self-hate, shame and/or trauma. For some young adults the stress of heading off to college and adapting to a new and competitive environment can lead to an eating disorder – if left untreated, can lead to complex medical and psychiatric symptoms.
The most common eating disorders for college students are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder.
College Students with Anorexia
College students with anorexia may take extreme measures to avoid eating. They often become abnormally thin but talk about feeling fat.. People suffering from anorexia have a distorted image of their body. Listed below are some of the signs of anorexia.
• Abnormal drive to be thin
• Fear of gaining weight or becoming fat
• Distorted body image
• Denies feelings of hunger
• Obsessed with dieting and exercise
• Emotional changes – depression and/or anxiety
• Social Isolation
Physical signs of anorexia include:
• Significantly underweight
• Refusal to maintain minimum weight
• Thinning hair
• Dry, flaky skin
College Students With Bulimia
College students with bulimia typically “binge and purge.” A binge is the consumption of a large amount of food within a short period of time accompanied by feeling out of control. Purging is often an attempt to “un-do” the binge via some compensatory behaviors such as vomiting. College students with bulimia may use other methods to control their weight, such as excessive exercise, laxatives or diet pills.
Signs of Bulimia:
• Secretive eating, evidence of missing food
• Odor of vomit
• Preoccupation with and/or constant talk about food and/or weight
• Frequent trips to the bathroom after meals
• Excessive exercise
• Binging and purging several times a week; for at least three months
Physical signs may include:
• Swollen salivary glands or “chipmunk cheeks”
• Frequent weight fluctuations within 10 to 15 pounds
• Discolored or stained teeth
• Broken blood vessels in the eyes
People with bulimia are usually concerned with body weight and shape, and they traditionally have a distorted image of their body. Most students will become socially withdrawn, depressed, severely self-critical and obsessed with weight loss and controlling what they eat, if left untreated.
College Students With Binge-Eating Disorders
College students with a binge eating disorder can be overweight or obese. They feel like they have no control over their behavior, eat in secret even when they’re not hungry. In an attempt to control their weight, this group often restricts throughout the day resulting in binges at night. They also feel shame and remorse over their behavior.
Signs of Binge Eating Disorder:
• Continuous grazing
• Hiding food/Eating in secret
• Excessive amounts of food containers and wrappers
• Eating when stressed
• Feeling unable to control how much they eat
• Experiments with different diets
• Socially withdrawn
The Eating Disorder Center of Denver offers treatments for eating disorders for students, including the most common anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder at their treatment center. They also provide educational opportunities at various campus events on eating disorders ranging from body image to healthy eating topics.
Dr. Tamara Pryor, Eating Disorder Center of Denver clinical director, suggests students need to be mindful of their environments and the interplay between emotional, mental and physical pressures that can prompt eating disorder symptoms.
“Students can seek help from our trained clinical staff and from their on-campus health support systems if they feel like they’re falling victim to an eating disorder. Eating disorders can affect students mental, emotional and physical health which can negatively impact their academic performance, relationships with family and friends, but more importantly their overall health and well-being,” said Dr. Pryor.
Eating Disorder Center of Denver suggests students seek professional counseling if they suspect they or a peer is affected by an eating disorder. They also suggest to college students alternatives for healthy weight loss including developing healthy eating plans, maintaining regular exercise routines and avoiding extreme fad diets or weight loss supplements to prevent eating disorders.
Eating disorders are a progressive mental illness that rarely gets better unless outside help is received. If you someone is in need of help, please call Eating Disorder Center of Denver (866-771-0861).
About Eating Disorder Center of Denver
Established in 2001, Eating Disorder Center of Denver (EDCD) is one of the nation’s foremost centers for the diagnosis and treatment of the full range of eating disorders. EDCD is committed to empowering individuals 18 years of age and older suffering with anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and related disorders to help them achieve and sustain recovery. A multidisciplinary team of board-certified psychiatrists, physicians, clinicians, family therapists and registered dietitians work together to create a specialized, evidence-based treatment plan for each patient. For additional information about EDCD, check out our website, www.edcdenver.com, visit us on Facebook, and/or follow us on Twitter (@EDCDenver).