What Happens if an Eating Disorder Goes Untreated?

A melted candle is burned to a short pillar.

Across the country, countless people suffer in silence from an eating disorder. Whether they are trying to match the unattainable beauty standards outlined in popular culture or have a severely damaged relationship with food, these conditions have remained a prevalent part of society for decades. While countless people have sought help from a local eating disorder treatment center, even more don’t reach out for help and let their condition go untreated.

When people with eating disorders don’t seek residential treatment to help them recover from their disordered relationship with food, there can be severe long-term consequences. Here are just some of the possible outcomes for people with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or any other untreated eating disorder.

Your Cardiovascular System Gets Damaged

Our bodies need a set amount of calories throughout the day to function properly. This number can vary from person to person; however, the prevalence of diet culture and disordered eating behaviors can lead people to reduce their caloric intake to dangerously low levels. When this happens, our bodies target existing tissue to get the necessary nutrients to survive. Fad diets will lead you to believe that your body targets fat first, but that’s not always the case.

As your body begins eating away at itself, your heart starts changing how it works to match the slowed functions. Without these vital nutrients, our cardiovascular system has difficulty maintaining adequate blood pressure, leading to fatigue, fainting spells, and in extreme cases, heart failure.

Additionally, when someone purges their system — commonly found in people suffering from bulimia — it can strip their body of necessary electrolytes vital to muscle function and performance.

Decreased Gastrointestinal Performance

When your gastrointestinal system relies on an orderly cycle of digestion and expulsion, an untreated eating disorder can cause untold damage to your body. These frequently unnaturally invasive expulsions and starvation tactics can significantly negatively affect your digestive system’s overall function. Moderate to severe cases can cause the following symptoms:

  • More frequent bacterial infections
  • Pronounced stomach pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Failure to digest food

Untreated eating disorders can also lead to more frequent constipation, potentially due to a lack of available energy or food in your system.

Devastating Neurological Effects

Our brains require energy to function at their peak efficiency. Eating habits affected by untreated eating disorders can cause irreversible neurological damage that can destroy neurons and reduce overall brain volume. Additionally, malnourished brains can also lead to numbness in your limbs due to damaged lipids, and your muscles can seize up and cramp due to an imbalance of electrolytes.

How It Affects Your Relationships

It’s not just the physical and neurological effects that need to be considered, but how untreated eating disorders can affect your interpersonal relationships with friends, family, and loved ones. Disordered relationships with your eating habits can cause your loved ones to look at your behavior with a mixture of frustration, anxiety, and even anger at their seeming inability to help. Continuing the vicious cycle, you may feel isolated and confused by their reaction and unsure how to set things right.

Receive the Treatment You Need at Magnolia Creek

Knowing where you can find a mental health treatment center in Columbiana, Alabama, that can help you confront your untreated eating disorder can prove one of the most vital decisions you can make. Magnolia Creek offers our patients personalized treatment programs designed to get to the heart of their condition and give them the help and support they need.

If you or a loved one has an untreated eating disorder, please don’t hesitate to contact our team at 205-409-4220 or complete our contact form. Learn more about our treatment options and admissions process today.


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