While it’s a fairly common, albeit harmful, misconception that eating disorders are just phases, fads, or kinds of lifestyle choices, they should be seen as the serious mental illnesses they really are. Eating disorders can have serious and detrimental consequences on a person’s physical and psychological health, not to mention affecting their everyday lives and social lives.
Eating disorders are classified as a mental health issue, with at least 1 in 10 people in the United States suffering from an eating disorder at some point in their lives. Understanding the different kinds of each type of eating disorder is necessary to help recognize symptoms and find successful treatments before the consequences become life-threatening.
What is an eating disorder?
Eating disorders are usually started from an obsession with body weight, body shape, and food which can result in serious health problems and even death. People who suffer from eating disorders can starve themselves by restricting the amount of food they eat, can have an unhealthy relationship with food and binge, or can over-exercise or purge after eating to avoid caloric intake.
They are most often reported in young women and adolescents, but can affect any gender at any age and can be brought on by genetics or other mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Often, eating disorders are co-diagnosed with other mental illnesses.
Binge eating disorder
People who suffer from binge eating disorder have similar symptoms to those with bulimia, as the illness causes them to eat unusually large quantities of food in short periods of time. Binge eaters often also feel a lack of control during their binges and end up over-eating. Unlike the other types of eating disorders explained in this article, people with binge eating disorder don’t count or restrict calories or use purging behaviours to counteract their binges, which are often done in secret.
People who binge eat are often obese or overweight, which can increase the risk of medical conditions like stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. If you or someone you love is suffering from binge eating disorder, there are treatment options, including visiting a treatment centre like edentreatment.com, where professionals will work with you or your loved one to find a personalized treatment plan.
Anorexia nervosa is the eating disorder that is most well-known and most often thought of when eating disorders are discussed. People who suffer from anorexia typically view themselves as overweight, even if they are dangerously underweight, and will drastically restrict their food intake in order to be thinner. They will usually constantly monitor their weight and avoid eating specific types of foods while having dysfunctional thoughts about food and eating. It also isn’t uncommon for people with anorexia to have difficulty eating in public.
Anorexia nervosa is severely unhealthy for the body, as it can cause serious health complications like heart, brain, or multi-organ failure and death. 20% of people who suffer from anorexia will die from the disorder, making it the deadliest mental illness. In less severe cases, it is still quite damaging to the body, causing thinning of the bones, brittle hair and nails, infertility, and the growth of a layer of fine hair all over the body.
People who suffer from bulimia nervosa will eat unusually high quantities of food in a short period of time, similar to people who binge eat. However, people with bulimia will attempt to purge the food after eating in order to compensate for the calories they have just consumed. Purging activities include forced vomiting, fasting for relatively long periods of time, taking laxatives, and excessively exercising.
Symptoms are usually similar to the symptoms of binge eating or anorexia, however, it isn’t uncommon for a person suffering from bulimia to maintain a relatively normal body weight rather than becoming underweight. The side effects can be quite serious, including stroke or heart attack caused by an imbalance in body levels like sodium, calcium, and potassium. Less serious side effects can include tooth decay and worn enamel, acid reflux, gut irritation, inflamed throat, and severe dehydration.
This is a collaborative post, read more on my page here.