Each of the two most common eating disorders, Anorexia and Bulimia, are more common than most people think. The symptoms of an eating disorder affect almost every aspect of the individual’s life: eating with others, deceit, withdrawal from social relationships, and changes in body chemistry and, in extreme cases, can cause changes in a female’s menstrual cycle. There are many theories about the principal causes of the condition, but most theories agree that eating disorders start during late adolescence, around the time of puberty. Most theories now have discounted the concept that food, itself, is the primary mechanism that maintains the condition, but rather, food is merely the object used to maintain the unhealthy condition. If you have the symptoms of restricting or purging, regardless of whether they began by dieting, etc, you are encouraged to seek professional help in order to prevent the condition from becoming worse.
About 20% of my clinical practice patients have a primary diagnosis of some form of an eating disorder. Some of these individuals are late adolescents, some are young adults and others are somewhat older, in their 30’s and 40’s.