University life has been described by some psychologists as the perfect storm for eating disorders in young adults. Why is that?
Many students move away from home into student accommodation where they’re thrust into situations that they may not have dealt with before. This creates anxiety and may exacerbate underlying mental or emotional health issues such as depression, stress, or low self-esteem.
Having to deal with adult issues when you’re not quite an adult can be hard on some, especially when these go hand-in-hand with a massive workload, a new peer group, and possibly some financial challenges.
Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia are more common in young women in university than in men, with an estimated 10 – 20% of women experiencing these illnesses during their college years. As young people try to gain a level of control over their lives and manage stressful situations, eating disorders can creep up and wreak havoc on their bodies and minds.
Eating disorders are, essentially, an unhealthy emphasis on controlling body weight. And of course, in this world of social media where everyone appears thin, beautiful, and successful it’s not hard to see how this can come about.
However, the dangers of eating disorders are very real and can cause lasting bodily damage. Low blood count, difficulty sleeping, extreme fatigue, hair loss, and trouble concentrating are just a few of the ways this can impact a person. It goes without saying that none of these are conducive to learning and growing as a person, and certainly not when you need to be on top of your game.
What do you do if you or someone you know is battling with an eating disorder?
It may help to know that it’s common, and you’re not alone in your struggles. And of course, it’s understandable given your current situation. But it’s also fixable, so reach out to your campus counsellor or psychologist who will be able to help you through this difficult time.