Anorexia nervosa, bulimia and binge eating disorder are categorized as mental illnesses. People with eating disorders not only have unhealthy relationships with food, but also typically struggle with body image issues and a disruption in their normal activities. In addition, they can be affected by physical symptoms such as lowered immune systems and weakened hearts. Now Finnish researchers have found that people with eating disorders are at an increased risk of developing autoimmune disorders as well.
In the study, published in PLOS ONE, investigators compared over 2,300 patients who received treatment at the Eating Disorder Unit of Helsinki University Central Hospital. They discovered that out of the patients with eating disorders, 8.9 percent had also been diagnosed with one or more autoimmune diseases. Common ailments included Type 1 diabetes and inflammatory bowel diseases. The percentage of the general population with these diseases is about 5 percent.
While future studies are needed, it’s clear that eating disorders wreak havoc on the body and the mind. If you’ve been struggling, look up behavioral health services in your area and give yourself the gift of recovery. Teens and preteens struggling with eating disorders can receive diagnosis and behavioral therapy from a child psychiatrist.