Eating disorders are complex mental health conditions that often require the intervention of medical and psychological experts to alter their course. They might start with an obsession with food, body weight, or body shape. In severe cases, eating disorders can cause serious health consequences and may even result in death if left untreated. The most common eating disorders are Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge eating. Each of these disorders has distinct symptoms, but all of them involve an abnormal attitude toward food.
No matter how slim they may be, when a person with anorexia looks in the mirror, they see an obese person. To lose weight, they will resort to extreme measures such as excessive exercise, and using laxatives or diet aids. Before long, symptoms of anorexia start to show. Weight loss is a common sign, but the sufferer may also experience hair loss, dry skin, fatigue, and loss of bone density. Menstrual periods can become irregular or even cease for several consecutive months. Anorexia is life-threatening.
Instead of avoiding food, a person with bulimia binges, then they purge what they have eaten, by making themselves vomit or by taking laxatives or diuretics. Bingeing is most often carried on in secret. Because of guilt, shame and an intense fear of weight gain from overeating, they may force vomiting or you may exercise too much or use other methods, such as laxatives, to get rid of the calories. Laxative misuse weakens the intestinal lining and can lead to inflammation or infection. Frequent vomiting can result in dehydration, tooth decay, damage to the oesophagus, and even heart failure.
Like the bulimic, a binge eater will consume a large amount of food. The difference is that she will not purge. As a result, binge eater may be overweight. Some will, however, starve themselves after a binge or engage in rigorous exercise. Like anorexics and bulimics, binge eaters have an unhealthy attitude toward food. Even without purging, bingeing is dangerous. It can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and a number of other maladies. It can also take a heavy emotional toll.
Causes and Risk Factors
The exact cause of eating disorders is unknown, but many experts suggest genetics and biological factors, as well as physical and emotional health, play a key role. Teenage women are more likely to develop these disorders, some risk factors include family history, mental health disorders, dieting and starvation, and stress.
An eating disorder can be difficult to manage or overcome by yourself. Eating disorders can virtually take over your life. If you’re experiencing any of these problems, or if you think you may have an eating disorder, seek medical help. Many people with eating disorders may not think they need treatment. If you’re worried about a loved one, urge him or her to talk to a doctor.