An eating disorder is a serious condition that manifests in abnormal and unhealthy eating habits. The vast majority of cases revolve around mental, genetic, and cultural issues.
Eating disorders could be present in one of the following forms:
Eating Disorders: The Many Forms
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The first eating disorder to consider is anorexia. Anorexia is by far the most common of all.
Affected individuals eat very little and often have severely low body weight. Statistically, 0.3 – 0.4% of young women and 0.1% of young men may suffer from anorexia at any given time.
Affected individuals may have obsessive fear of gaining weight. This worry is often propelled by the way our culture idealizes a slim figure. Dancers, models, and other celebrities create media that promotes a very specific body type. In terms of anorexia, this can lead individuals to hold distorted perceptions of their own body weight.
Additionally, anorexic patients are prone to develop several medical conditions. These might include cessation of menstruation (amenorrhea), loss of bone and skin integrity, or even heart problems. In severe cases, it can lead to fatal malnutrition.
To continue, individuals affected by bulimia may eat normal or excessive amounts of food. However, they may also try to lose weight through unhealthy methods.
A common manifestation of bulimia is a cycle of binging and purging. This means that the first eats too much and then throws it up. This is done through the use of laxatives and diuretics. Other manifestations include fasting and over-exercising.
Furthermore, 1.0% of young women and 0.1% of young men are considered bulimic. There are several stressors that can increase one’s chance of developing bulimia. These include social isolation, sexual abuse, fear of failure, and too much stress at work (occupational burnout).
Bulimic individuals tend to binge eat to overcome the stress they feel. Indulging in eating gives them a feeling of relief.
Although anorexia and bulimia are related to one another, there is a clear clinical difference between the two conditions. Anorexia patients are typically underweight, while those with bulimia may have normal to high normal body weight. However, both are serious and potentially fatal eating disorders.
Binge Eating Disorder
Next, binge eating is a condition in which the affected individual frequently consumes large amounts of food. He or she feels unable to resist eating more.
Statistics have shown that between 0.2% and 3.5% of females and 0.9% and 2.0% of males might develop binge eating disorder. Binge eating individuals are usually overweight or obese. Moreover, they could be of different ages and various socioeconomic classes.
Patients note that stress, anxiety, depression, and boredom can each kick off a binge episode.
Pica is a condition that causes the affected individual to eat non-food items. Commonly eaten items are dirt, paper, hair, clay, and paint flakes.
The most common causes of pica are nutritional anemia (iron deficiency) and pregnancy. Affected individuals try to supplement a nutritional item that they lack. Treating the nutritional deficiency with medication or vitamins often resolves the problem.
Pica is not always so harmless. It can also be a sign of serious mental disorders like autism or schizophrenia.
Eating disorders like binge eating, anorexia, bulimia, and pica can interfere with daily life. Without proper treatment, they can cause serious health problems.
Despite the fact that approximately 50% of eating disorders are attributed to genetic defects, most eating disorders can be managed successfully.
About 70% of individuals with anorexia and 50% of individuals with bulimia recover within five years of treatment.
Those who suffer from binge eating have an estimated chance of recovery between 20% to 60%.
Moreover, it is important to note that even with treatment, recurrence is common. Management plan options include psychological counseling, proper diet, medications, and behavioral therapy.
Finally, there are several types of eating disorders. They include anorexia, bulimia, pica, and others. These illnesses can greatly affect one’s physical and mental health in negative ways.
Each disorder manifests itself differently, and those who develop symptoms should consult their doctor and discuss treatment options.
Have you had an experience coping with one of these disorders? Tell us about it in the comments!