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Mental Health Monday: What are eating disorders?

Eating disorders are the third leading cause of death in young people.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Eating disorders are the third leading cause of death for children and young adults, according to the Eating Recovery Center.

So, what exactly is an eating disorder, what causes it and how can it be treated?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), an early sign of an eating disorder is when someone is preoccupied with food or their weight. When it comes to symptoms, it varies depending on what specific eating disorder you have.

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People suffering from anorexia typically refuse food to a point of starvation and are often obsessed with weight loss. People with bulimia typically binge on large amounts of food during short periods of time and then use extreme methods to get rid of the calories, often by vomiting, using laxatives or over exercising.

Eating disorders can be genetic and people's environments can also put them at a higher risk of having one.

Fortunately, there are a few treatment options for these illnesses. Speaking with a therapist or a nutritionist to rework a healthy lifestyle is one of these options.Another is a medicinal option, such as antidepressants or anxiety medications, as eating disorders often co-exist with depression or anxiety disorders.

If you, or someone you love, are suffering from an eating disorder, you can find more resources online on NAMI's website.

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