Eating Disorders Can Flourish on College Campuses
This post graciously submitted by Jacqueline Ekern. Many young adults head off to college with dreams of academic success, thriving friendship and excitement. While college life can provide all of these things, it can also deliver feelings of isolation, loneliness, stress, homesickness and more. Individuals struggling with an existing eating disorder or susceptible to developing an eating disorder can struggle to adapt to all the demands of life as a college student. The pressures to study, work and attend numerous social events can become overwhelming and then, if the student does not have highly developed coping skills and a great support system, they may fall prey to an eating disorder. Not because they are weak, but because they may find all the crashing emotions and demands to be too difficult to deal with, so they look for an escape, an outlet for all this stress.
In treating college students with anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder over the years, I found that the pressure they felt to be thin in such a social environment often led the individual to become critical of their bodies and weight. It seems like an easy area to focus on and control. So, they may begin to diet, exercise more, and even get positive feedback from their peers about their seemingly improved health habits. For some, though, this can digress into an eating disorder where the obsession with weight and eating overtake the student’s life and then things may begin to fall apart.
There are some great resources for those heading down this path and wanting to choose a healthier way to deal with college life than eating disorders. I recommend reading the article Anorexia and College Students if you are struggling with disordered eating or are concerned about a student showing signs of a potential eating disorder. Also, there are great organizations designed to offer support and information to sufferers and concerned others about eating disorders, such as the National Eating Disorders Association, the Academy of Eating Disorders and the Binge Eating Disorder Association.
Early intervention can save a life, possibly your life. So, if you are struggling, reach out, share your struggle with someone you trust and obtain treatment. Your life is far too precious to sacrifice to an eating disorder.
Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC founded Eating Disorder Hope in 2005, driven by a profound desire to help those struggling with anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. This passion resulted from her own battle with, and recovery from, an eating disorder. As director, Jacquelyn manages the Eating Disorder Hope Corporation and the Eating Disorder Hope website and maintains her license as a professional counselor.