Eating disorders impact the way every system within your body works, including neurological complications. When your body doesn’t digest food in the right manner, you may face difficulty with fertility. You may find yourself unable to focus or your anxiety level increasing. One of the many systems impacted is your brain and overall neurological system. Keep in mind that, for some people, mental health problems such as depression and anxiety can trigger eating disorders. However, eating disorders can also trigger severe mental health concerns as well as neurological problems.
Anorexia and Neurological Complications
One good example of this is in those who suffer from anorexia. Many people do not directly make the connection between an eating disorder like this and the changes in their brain and how the nervous system works. However, there is a direct impact that can be seen as the eating disorder worsens over time.
Individuals who develop a severe form of anorexia are likely to suffer some type of nerve damage. This will impact the brain and other parts of the body. This nerve damage limits the brain’s ability to communicate with the body’s various systems and, in some cases, severe and life threatening events can occur. Those with this type of nerve damage may suffer from:
- A higher risk of developing life-threatening or debilitating seizures
- Disordered thinking and an inability to focus or clearly process information
- Odd nerve sensations or numbness, sometimes a total lack of feeling in the hands or feet
How do we know that eating disorders bring on these types of changes? In 2009, researchers at Cambridge University found brain scans of the brains of individuals who have had some level of eating disorder actually have structural changes in the way their brains are formed. More so, abnormal activity occurs when anorexic behaviors take place.
What does this mean for your overall health?
For some people, reversing the eating disorder and improving overall diet will lead to a reversing of these neurological implications. However, this becomes much harder to do as the length of the eating disorder progresses and as the overall changes continue to take place. In some cases, some damage is permanent.
If you feel that you are struggling from an eating disorder, the most important decision you can make for yourself is to seek out medical and psychological help. The fact is, an eating disorder may not seem like a big deal to you right now, but it is having a direct impact on the way your brain works.