If someone were to ask you which mental illness has the highest mortality rate, would you know the answer? Many may think they know the correct answer, but it might surprise you to learn that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate among all mental illnesses.

An eating disorder is a serious illness that causes a disturbance in eating behaviors to an individual. While eating disorders may greatly impact the physical as well as emotional well-being of individuals, they gain their power through silence and secrecy.

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February is National Eating Disorders Awareness month. The Eating Disorders Coalition of Tennessee (EDCT), a nonprofit located in Nashville, TN is on a mission to break the silence, change the conversation and ultimately change lives. EDCT encourages everyone to take a few moments to read over some basic information and statistics about eating disorders. Proper knowledge and awareness of these deadly diseases can save a life.

  • There are 4 major types of eating disorders:
    • Anorexia Nervosa
    • Bulimia Nervosa
    • Binge Eating Disorder
    • Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified
  • Anorexia Nervosa is classified by a drive for thinness or an irrational fear of gaining weight
  • Bulimia Nervosa is a disorder in which individuals consume large amounts of food in short periods and then purge to undo overeating
  • Binge Eating Disorder involves repeated episodes of binge eating without purging behavior
  • Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) are behaviors consistent with anorexia or bulimia but do not meet the diagnostic criteria for either disorder
  • It is estimated that 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from an eating disorder at some time in their life
  • Anorexia Nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder
  • Females ages 15-24 who suffer from Anorexia Nervosa have a mortality rate that is 12 times higher than all other causes of death
  • In recent years there has been an increase in the number of eating disorder cases in men and minority populations
  • Eating disorders are a complex set of illnesses which result from a combination of biological, psychological and socio-culture issues, and how those causes come together is different for every person

If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder or disordered eating, please contact the Eating Disorders Coalition of Tennessee for help at contactus@edct.net or (615) 831-9838. Every day, EDCT performs life-changing work as it makes strides to carry out its mission of offering hope, help, and support to Tennessee and beyond.

Donations can be made to EDCT by visiting edct.net/About/Stories_of_Hope. A single donation can help train health care professionals on the latest eating disorders treatments, provide community outreach and education, and help sustain EDCT’s personalized referral service as well as free support groups.

If you are located in the Nashville or surrounding area, EDCT along with NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) is hosting the Second Annual NEDA Walk Nashville on March 22, 2014 in Centennial Park. All proceeds from the event will benefit eating disorders awareness education and prevention. To register, please visit: http://bit.ly/1bRRafZ.

To learn more about the Eating Disorders Coalition of Tennessee, please visit: www.edct.net.

To support Eating Disorders Coalition of Tennessee through We-Care.com, please visit: edct.we-care.com/getstarted

*The facts and statistics listed were primarily gathered from the National Eating Disorders Association and kidshealth.org.