Arguably, some of the most misunderstood and debilitating mental illnesses are Eating Disorders, including Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (www.nationaleatingdisorders.org), Eating Disorders involve distortions in thoughts and emotions relating to food intake and body image, resulting in unhealthy behaviors, such as extreme reduction of food intake, severe overeating and/or compulsive exercising. The median age of onset is 12 to 13 years old. While the rate of eating disorders is relatively low compared to other mental illnesses (approximately 1 to 3% depending on the diagnosis), eating disorders are associated with functional impairment, suicidality, comorbidity and high health service usage. In addition, Anorexia Nervosa has one of the highest death rates of all mental health disorders.
Earlier this week, a Boston area physician, Dr. Kamala Dansinghani, died from complications of anorexia. Dr. Dansinghani had spoken openly and written about her struggles with anorexia, providing great insight into the factors that contribute to eating disorders. In an interview with the LA Times when she was entering medical school, Dr. Dansinghani reflected on how her overachieving personality and drive to be perfect led to her illness. She also spoke about her recovery and the support she received from loved ones.
Today, the Mental Health Association in NYS signed on as a partner for Eating Disorders Awareness Week (February 26 to March 4). We look forward to supporting NEDA’s efforts to educate the public with this year’s theme being, Let’s Talk About It.
– Amy Molloy, Training and Program Specialist