What are Eating Disorders?
Eating disorders are psychological problems marked by significant and ongoing disturbances in eating patterns and the uncomfortable thoughts and emotions that go along with them. They can be extremely severe conditions that have an impact on social, psychological, and physical function. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, avoidant restricted food intake disorder, other specified feeding and eating disorder, pica and rumination disorder are examples of several eating disorders.
When all eating disorders are considered, they can affect up to 5% of people and are most common in adolescence and early adulthood. A few, particularly bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa, are more prevalent in women, but they can all happen to anyone at any age. Eating disorders are frequently linked to obsessions with food, weight, or shape as well as anxiety related to eating or the results of consuming particular foods. dietary restrictions or avoiding particular foods, binge eating, purging by vomiting or abusing laxatives, or compulsive exercise are all behaviours linked to eating disorders. These actions may become compelled in ways that resemble addiction.
Most frequently, mood and anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, and issues with alcohol and other drugs co-occur with eating disorders. There is evidence that suggests that some people are more likely to develop eating disorders than others, but eating disorders can also affect people who have no family history of the problem. Treatment should address any dietary, behavioural, psychological, or other medical issues that may be present. The latter can include heart and digestive issues as well as other potentially fatal illnesses, as well as the effects of starvation or of purging practises. Treatment resistance, denial of an eating or weight issue, or concern about altering eating habits are all frequent and recover their emotional and psychological health. However, persons with eating disorders can restart a healthy diet with the right medical care.
At any given time, many million people suffer from eating disorders, with women between the ages of 12 and 35 most commonly affected. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder are the three basic subtypes of eating disorders.
Types of Eating Disorders
Anorexia Nervosa: Self-starvation and weight loss leading to low weight for height and age are characteristics of anorexia nervosa. Other than opioid use disorder, anorexia has the greatest mortality rate of any mental diagnosis. It can also be a highly dangerous condition. An adult with anorexia nervosa typically has a body mass index (BMI) ≤ 18.5 (a measure of weight for height).
An extreme fear of gaining weight or getting fat drives the conduct of dieters with anorexia nervosa. Even while some anorexics claim they want to gain weight and are striving to do so, their actions do not support this claim. For instance, they might only consume a modest number of low-calorie foods and engage in strenuous activity. Some people who suffer from anorexia nervosa also occasionally binge eat and/or purge by vomiting or abusing laxatives.
Bulimia Nervosa: Bulimia nervosa sufferers frequently alternate binge eating “forbidden” high calorie items with dieting or restricting their diet to just low calorie “safe foods.” Binge eating is characterised by consuming a huge quantity of food quickly and feeling as though one has no control over what or how much they are eating. The behaviour of binge eating is typically covert and accompanied by emotions of guilt or humiliation. Food is frequently devoured quickly during binges and beyond the point of fullness, which can cause nausea and discomfort. At least once a week, binges happen, and they’re usually followed by “compensatory actions” meant to stop weight gain. Fasting, throwing up, abusing laxatives, or compulsive exercising are a few examples. Similar to anorexia nervosa, those who suffer from bulimia nervosa are too obsessed with concerns of food, weight, or shape, which negatively and disproportionately affects their sense of worth.
Somewhat underweight, average weight, overweight, or even obese people can have bulimia nervosa. However, if they are underweight, they are diagnosed with bulimia nervosa rather than anorexia nervosa binge-eating/purging type. Because they do not appear to be underweight and because their habits are concealed, others who are close to them might not be aware that a person has bulimia nervosa.
Binge Eating Disorder: People with binge eating disorder suffer periods of binge eating in which they consume huge amounts of food in a short period of time, feel as though they have no control over their eating, and are distressed by the activity. This is similar to bulimia nervosa. But unlike those who have bulimia nervosa, they don’t frequently resort to compensatory measures like fasting, exercising, or abusing laxatives to get rid of the food. Obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular illnesses are just a few of the major health consequences that can result from binge eating, which is a persistent problem. An individual must binge frequently (at least once per week for three months) and feel out of control in order to be diagnosed with binge eating disorder.
Pica: Pica is an eating disorder in which a person consumes items that have little nutritional value on a regular basis. The behaviour is serious enough to require clinical treatment and has persisted for at least one month. The typical items that are consumed can include paper, paint chips, soap, fabric, hair, string, chalk, metal, stones, charcoal or coal, or clay, depending on age and accessibility. Most people with pica don’t have a generalised dislike of food.
The behaviour is not consistent with culturally accepted norms and is out of proportion to the individual’s developmental stage. Pica can start in childhood, adolescence, or maturity, however it most frequently starts in childhood. Children under the age of 2 are not diagnosed. For youngsters under the age of two, putting little things in their mouth is a typical stage of development.
Pica can affect generally ordinarily developing youngsters, although it frequently co-occurs with intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder. A person with pica may experience intestinal obstructions or harmful effects from things they have taken (e.g. lead in paint chips). Testing for nutritional deficiencies and, if necessary, treating them are part of the treatment for pica. Redirecting the person away from the nonfood things and rewarding them for putting aside or avoiding nonfood items are two behaviour therapies that may be used to treat pica.