Mental Health

Among the almost 300 mental disorders catalogued in the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the most popular ones are schizophrenia and antisocial personality disorder (sociopath) appears to be the most dangerous. However, mental disorders with the highest risk of death are actually eating disorders. Anorexia nervosa, in particular, records 5.1 deaths per 1000 person-years!

Eating disorders are routinely underreported. Despite that, they affect approximately 9% of the population, with females accounting over two thirds of all cases.

Eating disorders is a form of mental disorder. Image courtesy of Pixabay

Understanding eating disorders

Eating disorders are diseases which cause patients to suffer extreme disturbances in their eating habits, emotions and mental health. Patients suffering from eating disorders usually become obsessed with their body image, weight and obviously, food.

Patients suffering from bulimia and anorexia nervosa are typically obsessive compulsive or perfectionists with low self-esteem. They also have exceptionally negative body image. They consistently view themselves as overweight, even when their weight has dropped to dangerous levels owing to malnutrition or starvation. Most patients suffering from such disorders will be in denial, which is a common trait among patients of mental disorders.

Disorder cycle and deterioration

Since their eating disorder feeds their mental health disorder, and vice versa, a dangerous and ever threatening cycle is created. This would exacerbate or even lead to new mental issues such as obsessive compulsive disorders, panic attacks and anxiety attacks. In many instances, patients will degenerate to more related disorders, such as substance abuse and alcoholism.

Left untreated, eating disorders can cause massive long term damages to the body due to chronic malnutrition, cardiac issues, internal bleeding and muscle atrophy, among others. This will ultimately lead to death. Before that though, their illness will wreak havoc on their personal life and relationships, as well as their workplace or school.

However, with proper psychological and medical care, patients can return to their normal eating habits within a relatively short period. However, the longer treatment is avoided, the body will experience more permanent damage. Nevertheless, since the risk of relapse is high, patients will be expected to continue with their treatments, particularly mental treatments, until their doctors are confident of their ability to independently combat against any future issues