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National Eating Disorder Week: What are the symptoms? How to help!


Staff Writer

Periwinkle is the ribbon color that represents eating disorders. Some students chose to wear the ribbons in hopes to spread awareness. Haley Dick image.

National Eating Disorder Week came to Salisbury University the week of February 27, campus widespread with posters of encouragement as well as an event held by the Counseling Center in Commons, in hopes to bring awareness to how serious eating disorders can be.

On Wednesday the Counseling Center staff held the Better than Barbie Kooler than Ken event in the lobby of Commons. This interactive activity allowed people to come break negative self-image barriers and stereotypes to unrealistic body standards.

According to The National Alliance on Mental Illness, when someone is obsessing over food and weight control that is the first sign of an eating disorder. An eating disorder affects more than just weight; it also influences mood fluctuation, school work, relationships and physical health.

So how do you know if someone you love or know is suffering from an eating disorder? And if they are, how can the situation be approached?

The most common disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder. All of the aforementioned involve extreme food and weight loss, yet each disorder’s symptoms differ from one another.

  1. Anorexia Nervosa. Anorexia Nervosa is the most common disorder and the most extreme. A person who suffers from this disorder will constantly deny food and obsess about losing weight. Most who suffer from Anorexia Nervosa will become irritable, unsociable and sometimes will show no mood or emotion. They might start to develop a fear of eating in public as well as create food rituals.The body starts to shut down due to the lack of fuel used for energy.  The lack of fuel and proper nutrition can problems in the body such as bowel problems, dehydration, low heart rate and trouble sleeping. Many who suffer from Anorexia Nervosa will binge and purge behind closed doors.
  2. Bulimia Nervosa. Similar to Anorexia Nervosa with binging and purging, Bulimia Nervosa is the second most common eating disorder people suffer from. This disorder consists of extreme  eating patterns in a short period of time, then forcefully becoming sick, abusing laxatives and excessive exercise so that one may not gain weight from food. When one suffers from this disorder, they might develop low self-esteem, feeling out of   control and feeling guilty when eating, causing them to withdraw from social relationships because they cannot control their feelings. The body is severely harmed when one binges or purges because the parts involved in eating and digesting food are unnaturally interrupted. Dental damage might occur from consistent vomiting and someone who suffers from Bulimia Nervosa might develop acid reflux. Purging can also lead to dehydration due to the lack of  electrolytes and this deficiency can lead to cardiac arrhythmia, heart failure and even death.
  3. Binge Eating Disorder The most opposite disorder of all of these is Binge Eating Disorder, when a person overeats in a short period of time. When someone binges, they may show signs of embarrassment, disgust, guilt or even depression, yet they will not purge after their binge. This is the hardest disorder to acknowledge because a person may be average weight, overweight or obese. You may be able to notice diet changes such as buying unhealthy food in bulk, hiding food, as well as always ordering too much.

If anyone you know and love are showing these signs there are many ways to help. Discuss your concerns, suggest for them to seek professional help, and let them know they are not alone as well as how you could help them through this.

Professional help is available to those suffering from an eating disorder on local and national level.

  1. Salisbury University’s Counseling Center (410) 543-6070. Salisbury University Counseling Center provides independent and group counseling to students who are experiencing psychological, interpersonal or behavioral situations. You can call the counseling center Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to schedule your first intake. The professional staff makes it very easy to walk in and talk.
  2. Life Crisis Center (410) 749 HELP and MD 211. The Life Crisis Center is a toll free number anyone can call at any time if they are in a situation they cannot control. LCC also houses the suicide hotline as well, in Maryland it is MD 211. They provide many supportive and therapeutic services from their hotlines to their classes and then ending with their housing. They hope that survivors and their families find healing and hope for the future.

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