CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – “Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental health diagnoses. So a lot of times, it’s very secretive. They are in secret. They are keeping it to themselves. They are not telling people. They’re not, not communicating or isolating and before you know it, it’s too late,” Ashley Fairbanks said.
Fairbanks is the Eating Disorder Treatment Coordinator at Focus Treatment Centers.
She helps people struggling with the disorders that she said are becoming more prevalent.
“I think just about anybody, if I was to go out and say, do you have a disorder of eating. Just about anybody right now, because of our culture, is struggling with some sort of disorder,” Fairbanks said.
Fairbanks said it’s hard to put a number on how many people are impacted in the Chattanooga area, but guesstimates 1 in 20 people deal with an eating disorder.
“We just see maybe 30 million estimated Americans struggle within a year,” Fairbanks said.
Focus is celebrating Eating Disorders Awareness Week this week.
This year, the theme is “Come as You Are: Hindsight is 2020.”
“Everybody that’s been struggling with an eating disorder, looking back at how you got here and what has helped you get to recovery and through recovery and so it’s just hindsight 2020. If I knew that coping skill then. If I knew that advice or knowledge then. If I had that piece of information, then maybe I wouldn’t have had to struggle for so long,” Fairbanks said.
If you think your loved one might have an eating disorder, Fairbanks said that some signs to look out for include extreme restriction.
“The fad diets. If they’re doing those constantly. If they’re taking them to the extreme. If they’re over exercising and compulsively almost so,” she said,
You can contact Focus Treatment Centers if you or your family member might have an eating disorder.
Fairbanks said that they can give an assessment over the phone.
It takes about an hour.
Also, Focus holds group meetings for people dealing with an eating disorder.
Eating Disorders Anonymous meets every Wednesday night from 6 to 7.
All you have to do is show up.