This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness week and JET 24/FOX 66 will be highlighting facts about several eating disorders to spread awareness. 30 million Americans suffer from an eating disorder annually.
“Some of the eating disorders can be a sense of body image and strive to always be thinner. Some eating disorders is a loss of control and along with that is the guilt feelings and so forth. So, there are all these different variations that separate them out, but they’re all wrapped around that control of eating and dealing with food that we all need everyday to intake. That’s what makes eating disorders a lot trickier, because we still all have to eat,” said Dr. Mathew Sipple, board certified psychiatrist at Bay City Psychiatry and Center for Focused Care.
According to Dr. Sipple, people with eating disorders often have other mental health issues. This adds another layer of complexity to diagnostics and treatment.
“We see patients who have what’s called comorbird illnesses, meaning that those be present not only with eating disorders, but they may have things that wrap around with it such as anxiety, major depressive disorder. We’ve even seen that with bipolar disorder and even other mental health illnesses. Recent studies I’ve looked at, approximately 80% of patients having any type of psychiatric illness may have the possibility with an eating disorder,” said Steve Harper, board certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner at Bay City Psychiatry and Center for Focused Care.
With so many varied disorders, symptoms will vary.
“It depends on the eating disorder. When it comes to binge eating disorder, that starts at the average age of about 18-years-old, whereas anorexia and bulimia start at the average age of about 21. A lot of times it comes up more, it can come to someone’s office as anxiety. Sometimes it’s to the point they’re having medical problems, whether it’s with their G.I. system or even heart palpitations, heart, chest discomfort, things like that. That leads them to their family doctor,” said Dr. Sipple.
Sometimes, people don’t even know who to initially go to if they’re seeking out help.
“A lot of times, the very front lines can be from the PCP side of it for the person, if they’re concerned, worried if they have an eating disorder, so forth. They could even start off with their school counselor—a lot of times people will see them first. Or sometimes we get folks referred by human resources from their job,” said Dr. Sipple.
There are many ways doctors may treat someone with an eating disorder.
“There’s a few things you can really prescribe. There’s only two FDA indicated medications. The first one is for bulimia, and that’s actually Prozac or fluoxetine. A lot of the other medications they’ve looked at that are serotonin-based, some of the anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medications have been used, but fluoxetine’s the only one to have shown to break what’s called the cycle of bulimia. The cycle being of dieting, and then having the binge, the purge, and then the diet again. It’s kind of a repetitive cycle. And it’s the only medication that’s been proved to actually break that cycle. The other portion is is called Vyvanse. That’s a stimulant that we can use most often for treating patients with ADHD. That medication has actually been approved for binge eating disorder,” said Harper.
Harper also said it can take a team from doctors to family members to really help the patient.
Dr. Sipple believes it is imperative we discuss this, because eating disorders are life-threatening.
“Eating disorders actually have more death than any other mental illness per year. One person, one to two people every 62 minutes will die from an eating disorder,” said Dr. Sipple.
If you need more resources and information, you can visit the National Eating Disorders Association website.