National Eating Disorder Awareness Week Closes with a Nod to Therapy

It is perhaps not too surprising that in the midst of America’s growing obesity concerns, many people are faced with a devastating and related mental health issue. Millions across the country, especially those in the volatile years of adolescence, struggle with some sort of eating disorder, most commonly manifested in the forms of anorexia or bulimia. Far more destructive and potentially fatal than fad diets or other seemingly harmless ventures into modifying the physical self, these eating disorders often last for years, depleting the body of vital nutrients and resulting in unfortunate complications. But above and beyond the basic physical concerns connected with eating disorders, a strong psychological component exists—one that is often overlooked, oversimplified, or simply ignored altogether.

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, which came to a close February 7, made bold strides toward encouraging understanding among the public as well as medical care providers about the impacts of these ailments on a psychological level. While many sufferers are given the advice—or the dictate—to simply “stop worrying” while battling anorexia and its brethren, survivors, professionals, and volunteers have spent the week getting the word out about the need for psychotherapy as a part of the healing process. As one of the leading concerns of young people in America, body image is a greatly important topic to understand, and one which should be breached when attempting to come to the aid of someone who has an eating disorder. Whether rooted in one’s family, resulting from a lack of unconditional love or low self-esteem, stemming from traumatic events, or formed as a kind of social pressure, negative body image is a significant threat to both young and aging. From facilitating educational seminars and films to simply being present to share information and knowledge, NEDAW participants helped make the connection between psychological difficulties and eating disorders more firmly grasped.

© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Marianne


    March 3rd, 2009 at 2:21 PM

    More parents and adults need to be on the lookout for these disorders as they are taking the lives of far too many teens these days.

  • Suzanne


    March 5th, 2009 at 3:54 AM

    Eating disorders are a sad reality for many families. I am a high school teacher and it amazes me how many girls I see who are already dieting and concerned over body issues that I never thought about at this young age. We are doing a lot of damage to our children from a very early age and look at the turmoil that this has inevitably caused. I am always looking and listening to what my female and male students have to say about things like this. Sometimes I know that I am the only one who is listening to them in their lives and that this might just be the only shot that someone has to make a difference.

  • Amelia


    March 5th, 2009 at 4:00 AM

    I think the worst thing about today’s world is the hype about being hip and sexy. You have to love who you are unconditionally cos if you dont nobody will. My mom taught me this when I was 5. I look into the mirror every morning and say this aloud, “Good morning gorgeous!! You are the best!!”

  • Carolyn


    March 9th, 2009 at 2:08 PM

    Amelia that is great. I tell my daughter the same things every day- I only hope that the messages I send to her now will be enough to overcome the pressures she will face as a teen a few years down the road and that it can help to ensure that she does not succumb to the negative messages about girls that society so often projects upon them. We need to tell our kids to get smart, not get sickly thin.

  • Angel


    March 16th, 2009 at 2:09 AM

    I think Amelia is very correct… You have to tell yourself and your child, that they are beautiful, no matter what. A child needs to hear this as well as adults. If you continue to tell yourself that you are beautiful, unconciously you will believe it… I really do believe it’s mind over matter and that part of the brain has a lot to do with it.. I’ve read so much on the brain and how it works and confirmation. We all need to practice this.

  • Erica


    March 16th, 2009 at 2:46 AM

    As a teenager, this is very common among a lot of girls. I think parents need to take the time to educate their children over the harm and hurt this could cause.

  • Brea


    March 20th, 2009 at 3:18 AM

    In my opinion, i think if a child does not get the physical love, such as hugging and kissing when they are younger or hear the words “I love you”, that they may start questioning themselves whether they are pretty or not. It may be hard for some of us to express our feelings if we weren’t given that ourselves when we were growing up.

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