Mental Health Series: Eating Disorders Awareness

This year, National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is observed February 26 through March 4. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, 20 million women and 10 million men will experience an eating disorder during their lifetime in the U.S.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that the most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating. The NIH suggests keeping an eye out for the following signs and symptoms in anyone who may be dealing with one of these disorders:

Anorexia Nervosa

  • Extremely restricted eating 
  • Extreme thinness
  • Intense fear of weight gain 

Bulimia Nervosa

  • Periods of eating unusually large amounts of food followed by forced vomiting or excessive use of laxatives (purging), excessive exercise, and/or fasting
  • Severe dehydration
  • Electrolyte imbalance 

Binge-Eating

  • Eating unusually large amounts of food without purging, excessive exercising, or fasting
  • Eating quickly during binges 
  • Having feelings of guilt or shame about your eating

If you suffer from an eating disorder, it is important that you know about the many treatment options available. Treatment can be administered by various professionals including a physician, a psychotherapist or psychiatrist, or a dietician. Treatment centers and other resources can often be covered by Medicaid and Medicare, depending on your circumstances and eligibility. We encourage you to take our Benefit Finder questionnaire to find out which benefits you may be eligible for.

Without treatment, eating disorders can have serious long-term effects, and even lead to death. The two most common causes of death for people with eating disorders are heart failure and suicide. 

Benefits.gov understands the enormous challenges faced by those with eating disorders and their loved ones and realizes it can be hard to seek help.

If you or a loved one is at risk for suicide, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If you or a loved one have an eating disorder, contact the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline for support, resources, and to hear about treatment options at 1-800-931-2237, Monday through Friday. You can also text “NEDA” to 741741 if you are experiencing a crisis to be contacted by a trained volunteer or visit the National Eating Disorders Association website to chat with a trained volunteer online.

Counsel/Counseling