Focus at Four: Spotting and treating eating disorders

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, with one person dying every 62 minutes from the disease.

But the Eating Recovery Center (ERC) has a message for those with eating disorders: with early detection and treatment, recovery is possible.

Jennie Schafer works as a national recovery advocate with ERC. She draws on her own first-hand experience with what's called "almost anorexia."

"For so many years, I struggled--but I didn't 'look' like I had an eating disorder because eating disorders don't look a certain way," Schaefer said. "There's a myth out there that you either have an eating disorder or you don't, but the truth is, there's a continuum...and for a long time, I was in that gray area."

Deborah Michel, founder and director of Eating Recovery Center The Woodlands, says Schaefer's story highlights one of the common misconceptions surrounding eating disorders, but there are more.

"Eating disorders aren't a choice or a vanity," Michel said. "Sometimes they're seen as a lifestyle decision, but what we now know is that eating disorders meet all of the criteria for serious mental illness."

Michel and Scaefer are holding a presentation Thursday evening on the Texas A&M University campus. Details are below.

WHAT: Dr. Michel and Jenni Schaefer will hold
a free, open-to-the-public presentation
on finding balance with eating and
exercise, as well as learning how to love
your body. The presentation will also
discuss strategies for helping a friend
who might have an eating disorder.

When: Thursday, February 15 @ 6:30 pm

Where: Texas A&M
Kleberg Animal and Food Sciences
Center
Room 115 
474 Olsen Blvd

For more information on seeking help, see ERC's website in the Related Links.