What are eating disorders?
Eating disorders are a set of conditions that are characterized by irregular eating habits and / or anxiety related to the weight or shape of the body.
Eating disorders may include inappropriate or excessive food intake that may ultimately harm the well-being of the individual. The most common forms of eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, nervous nervousness and eating disorder. The affluence applies to both women and men.
Eating disorders can develop at any stage of life, but they usually appear in adolescence or in adolescence. Appropriate therapy, classified as a medical disease, can be very effective for many specific types of eating disorders.
Although these conditions are curable, symptoms and consequences can be harmful and lethal if not resolved. Eating disorders often co-exist with other conditions such as anxiety disorders, substance abuse or depression.
Types of eating disorders
The three most common types of eating disorders are as follows:
- Anorexia nervosa, male or female – suffering from anorexia nervosa usually has an obsessive fear of weight gain, refusal to maintain a healthy body weight and unrealistic perception of the body image. Many people suffering from anorexia nervosa will dramatically reduce the amount of food consumed and perceive themselves as overweight, even if they are clearly underweight. Eating disorders, such as anorexia, can have harmful health effects, such as brain damage, multi-organ failure, bone loss, heart problems and infertility. The risk of death is highest in people with this disease.
- Bulimia Nervosa – This eating disorder is characterized by repeated binge eating followed by behaviors that compensate for overeating, such as forced vomiting, excessive exercise or extreme use of laxatives or diuretics. Men and women who suffer from bulimia may be afraid of weight gain and feel very unhappy with their size and body shape. The cycle of overeating and cleansing is usually done in secret, creating a sense of shame, guilt and lack of control. Bulimia can have an unwanted effect, such as gastrointestinal problems, severe dehydration and heart problems due to electrolyte imbalance.
- Eating – people who suffer from binge eating often lose control of their food. However, unlike bulimia, there are no compensatory behaviors such as purging, fasting or excessive exercise after episodes of binge eating. For this reason, many people with BED may be obese and have an increased risk of developing other diseases such as cardiovascular disease. Men and women who are struggling with this disorder may also feel intense feelings of guilt, suffering and embarrassment related to their binge eating, which may affect the further development of eating disorders.
Causes of eating disorders
Eating disorders are complex disorders influenced by many factors. Although the exact cause of eating disorders is unknown, it is widely believed that the combination of biological, psychological and / or environmental abnormalities contributes to the development of these diseases.
Examples of biological agents include:
- Irregular hormonal functions
- Genetics (the link between eating disorders and genes is still intensively studied, but we know that genetics is part of history).
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Examples of psychological factors include:
- Negative body image
- Poor self-esteem
Examples of environmental factors that could contribute to the occurrence of eating disorders are:
- Dysfunctional family dynamics
- Occupations and careers that promote thinness and weight loss, such as ballet and modeling
- Aesthetically oriented sports, which emphasizes maintaining a slim figure for increased performance. Examples include:
- Long distance run
- Family and children’s injuries: sexual abuse of children, severe trauma
- Cultural and / or peer pressure among friends and colleagues
- Stressful transitions or life chan ges
Treatment of eating disorders
Due to the seriousness and complexity of these diseases, a comprehensive and professional therapeutic team specializing in eating disorders is often of fundamental importance for healing and recovery.
Treatment plans are used to solve many of the problems that a man or woman can face, restoring their health and well-being, and often tailored to their individual needs.
Treatment of eating disorders usually consists of one or more of the following and addressed to doctors, dieticians and therapists for full care:
- Medical care and monitoring – The greatest care in the treatment of eating disorders is solving any health problems that may have been a consequence of eating disorders.
- Nutrition: This would require weight recovery and stabilization, guidelines for normal nutrition and the integration of an individual meal plan.
- Therapy: Different forms of psychotherapy, such as individual, family or group, can be helpful in solving the underlying causes of eating disorders. Therapy is the basic element of treatment because it gives the person recovering the ability to address and cure traumatic life events and to learn healthier coping skills and methods of expressing emotions, communicating and maintaining healthy relationships.
- Medicines: Some medications may be helpful in addressing symptoms of mood or anxiety that may occur in eating disorders or in reducing overeating and purging behaviors.
Different levels of treatment are available, from outpatient support groups to hospital treatment centers, based on the severity of eating disorders. In any case, recognizing and dealing with eating disorders is crucial in initiating treatment.