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Eating disorders cloud judgment about the need for treatment

An eating disorder usually starts when a person begins restrictive dieting to lose weight. At first, dieting is not a matter for concern and it may even lead to compliments from others. The initial focus on weight loss or control of food intake may lead to increased self-confidence, feelings of self-control, and positive social feedback. In some cases, dieting and the focus on weight control may function by numbing the person from certain negative feelings. However, with time, the attempt to control weight becomes progressively unrealistic and there is limited ability to adverse psychological, emotional, social and physical consequences. As the eating disorder advances, there is often growing rigidity in thinking, depression, anxiety, mood fluctuations, and social withdrawal. Later, the physical and social consequences may become even more pronounced even though blood tests remain normal and intellectual performance remains intact. Ultimately, depression, social isolation, and progressive physical decline lead to failure to achieve educational, employment, and social goals. However, the conviction that weight control is desirable and serves an essential purpose becomes so powerful that even the strongest suggestions to seek treatment are rebuffed.

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