Eating disorders are very complicated: they're not just mental health disorders, they can also cause a whole host of immediate and long-term problems with physical health too.
All kinds of eating disorders can ultimately cause serious damage to various organ systems, and for some people with eating disorders the effects are eventually fatal. Getting treatment can reduce the risk of harm, but in some cases, enough damage has already been done that the effects are permanent.
The effects of anorexia can be particularly devastating, due to the fact that people with this mental health disorder severely restrict their caloric intake.
In the long term, the body is starved of both calories and essential vitamins and minerals, leading to all kinds of medical problems: cardiac problems such as low heart rate and arrhythmia, inability to regulate body temperature, anemia, loss of bone density, and dehydration.
If treatment isn't successful people with anorexia risk death due to organ failure or simply as a result of starvation.
People with bulimia are less likely to suffer from health problems relating to caloric restriction, but they're still at risk. The endless cycles of binging and purging lead to gastrointestinal problems such as reflux disease, ulcers, and in severe cases, stomach rupture.
Other potential problems include dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, which can affect the heart and other organs. Without treatment, there's even a risk of organ failure and death.
Binge eating disorder is a very different kind of eating disorder, and as a result people with BED have different risks. Due to the consumption of large amounts of food—in particular food that's high in fat and carbohydrates—there's a risk of severe obesity, and its attendant health risks, such as cardiovascular problems, gallbladder disease, and type 2 diabetes.
To read more on the long tern effects of eating disorders go to Bulimia.com.