What Are the Long-Term Effects of Eating Disorders?

long-term effects of eating disorders two women and dogs walking in woods

Recovering from an eating disorder can be a long and challenging journey, but you don’t need to face it alone.

The long-term effects of eating disorders can significantly impact your health and mental well-being, so seeking treatment as soon as possible is important. These conditions can negatively alter a person’s life, increasing their risk of serious medical complications and long-term mental health issues. If you are struggling with an eating disorder, consider contacting Sanford Behavioral Health for residential eating disorder treatment. Our team of dedicated professionals will work with you to help you overcome your eating disorder and regain control of your health and happiness. Our full continuum of care also offers day programs, half-day programs, family therapy, and alums support. Call us at 844-448-7700 to learn about our eating disorder treatment programs.


The Long-Term Effects of an Eating Disorder

An eating disorder is much more than an unhealthy relationship with food. It is a severe and dangerous mental health condition that can profoundly affect every aspect of a person’s life. An eating disorder can lead to malnutrition, organ damage, and even death if left untreated. Thankfully, many treatment options are available for those with an eating disorder. However, even with treatment, the effects of an eating disorder can be long-lasting. Here are eight common long-term effects of eating disorders:

  1. Damage to the digestive system—Eating disorders can damage the stomach, intestines, and esophagus, leading to problems with digesting food and absorbing nutrients.
  2. Malnutrition – Severe malnutrition can lead to various health problems, including muscle weakness, organ damage, and Anemia.
  3. Osteoporosis – A bone density loss increases the risk of fractures.
  4. Heart problems – Arrhythmias, heart failure, and even death can occur.
  5. Kidney problems – Eating disorders can cause kidney damage or failure.
  6. Brain damage – Brain structure and function changes can occur, leading to memory, concentration, and decision-making ability problems.
  7. Reproductive problems – Eating disorders can interfere with normal reproductive function in men and women. This can include amenorrhea (loss of menstrual periods) in women and lowered testosterone levels in men. In women, eating disorders can also cause infertility and increase the risk of having a low-birth-weight baby.
  8. Mental health problems – Eating disorders often co-occur with other mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders.

These conditions can require long-term treatment. At Sanford Behavioral Health, we offer a range of evidence-based treatment programs for eating disorders, including residential treatment, full- and partial-day treatment, and individual and family therapy.


eating disorder treatment

Sanford Comprehensive Treatment for Eating Disorders residential bedrooms and clinical kitchen

Understanding the Risks of an Eating Disorder

There is confusion and misinformation about what causes eating disorders and how they can be treated. No single cause of an eating disorder exists, and treatment requires comprehensive medical, dietary, and psychological support. However, some risk factors may make someone more susceptible to developing an eating disorder, such as a history of dieting or body dissatisfaction. Certain personality traits, such as perfectionism or impulsivity, may also play a role. It’s important to remember that anyone can develop an eating disorder, regardless of age, weight, gender identity, or cultural background. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please seek professional help. With the proper treatment, full recovery is possible.


long-term effects of eating disorders

Sanford recreational therapists helping eating disorder clients rediscover a colorful world!

The Mental Health Effects of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders can have a profound effect on a person’s mental health. Not only can they lead to feelings of anxiety and depression, but they can also cause obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. People with eating disorders often fixate on their weight and body shape, leading to a preoccupation with food and an unhealthy focus on dieting and exercise. This can quickly spiral out of control, resulting in dangerous weight loss and other health problems.

Eating disorders can also cause social isolation, as people become withdrawn from family and friends. In severe cases, eating disorders can even lead to suicide. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, getting help as soon as possible is essential.



Get Support from Sanford Behavioral Health

Recovering from an eating disorder can be a long and challenging journey, but you don’t need to face it alone. Sanford Behavioral Health’s Comprehensive Treatment for Eating Disorders offers treatment programs to help you or your loved one overcome the long-term effects of an eating disorder and begin living a balanced life. We understand that eating disorders can be long-lasting and difficult to treat. With the proper support and treatment, full recovery is possible. Click the link below to start your journey toward healing.


Sanford Behavioral Health is licensed and accredited as an addiction, eating disorder, and co-occurring mental health treatment facility, serving all of Michigan and beyond. Each of Sanford’s facilities in Greater Grand Rapids is carefully and diligently crafted to create a welcoming and comforting environment. Sanford is led by a psychiatrist-led team of medical, clinical, and support personnel providing medication-assisted, evidenced-based treatment to residential, outpatient, and telehealth patients. For more information, visit www.sanfordbehavioralhealth.com.