The Deadliest Mental Illness
As a population we have become familiar with the names of common mental illnesses.
However, the most deadly of all mental illnesses are eating disorders like bulimia, anorexia, and compulsive overeating.
We recognize all of these as being mental disorders that require treatment:
- Borderline Personality Disorder,
- Manic Depressive Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
However, the most deadly of all mental illnesses is missing from this group of “household names.” The most deadly mental illnesses are eating disorders.
Why are eating disorders so deadly? The answers vary depending on the eating disorder:
All of these diseases show records of heart failure due to the stress on the internal organs from the lack of nutrients or the constant purging of them.
Eating disorder sufferers inflict the most self-harm on themselves than any other mental illness.
This is why eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
A study by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reported that 5 – 10% of anorexics die within 10 years of the beginning of their anorexic behaviors; 18-20% of anorexics will be dead after 20 years and only 30 – 40% ever fully recover. Of those who do recover a life style that promotes recovery is vital to keeping the disease dormant.
The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate of ALL causes of death for females 15 – 24 years old. Whether or not it is because anorexics and their families don’t look at the disease as a serious mental needing mental attention is unknown, but this writer thinks it is quite likely.
As a family member of someone with an eating disorder it is hard to really know how severe the disease is since eating disorder behaviors are done in private. Parents, siblings and spouses have no idea the amount of mind obsession that is around the person's body and food. Help is not offered until the physical repercussions have taken effect which means the client has probably been practicing so long that their mental illness is now an addiction. When all of these factors are considered, it makes sense that 20% of people suffering from anorexia will prematurely die from complications related to their eating disorder (complication include suicide and heart problems).
If you know someone who you may suspect is suffering from an eating disorder, our staff at The Victorian encourages you to be bold and take action before it’s too late. Interventionist are available to help you with the process of getting your loved one into treatment.