HEALTHY LIVING

How An Eating Disorder Changes The Brain

02/27/2015 05:56 pm ET

The long-term consequences of an eating disorder are more than skin deep. In a HuffPost Live conversation, psychiatrist Kim Dennis discussed the health conditions beyond extreme weight fluctuations that arise from prolonged eating disorders.

As Dennis explained, eating disorders affect "the thinking parts of our brain that we use to make rational decisions."

"Those parts of the brain themselves can actually shrink and degenerate during an active eating disorder," she told host Caroline Modarressay-Tehrani on Thursday.

In fact, one 2013 study showed that patients with anorexia nervosa experienced a decrease in the brain's gray and white matter.

Instead of glamorizing "unnaturally" thin celebrities, Dennis said the conversation should shift to the larger health problems at play.

"This person is at risk of a sudden cardiac death. This person is at risk of osteoporosis, which is one of the few aspects of having an eating disorder that can be irreversible well into recovery," she said.

Watch the full conversation about the damaging effects of eating disorders here.

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