What is an Eating Disorder?
A persistent disturbance of eating behaviour or behaviour intended to control weight significantly impairs physical health or psychosocial functioning. Despite the name, eating disorders are not restricted to food-related problems.
It may start as an obsession with food, maintaining low body weight, or a sense of control, making the individuals go to extreme ends to meet these goals. Getting the proper eating disorders treatment is essential to help treat the condition.
Multiple factors are implicated in causing this disease –
- Genetic factors
- Sociocultural factors
- Family influence
- Peer influence
Types of Eating Disorders:
Below are some of the common eating disorders
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that leads to weight loss or decreased growth in children. They fail to achieve weight as per height and age. A distorted body image usually accompanies this. Anorexia Nervosa patients see themselves as overweight (though they are not or are even underweight) and decrease their food intake.
They live with the intense fear of weight gain and fail to recognise that they are dangerously underweight. Some people with the disorder exercise excessively or purge via vomiting and laxatives.
Bulimia nervosa is a severe eating disorder characterised by cycles of binge eating followed by compensatory behaviours to undo the effects of overeating, such as self-induced vomiting or using laxatives. These behaviours can have serious physical complications. They live with the fear of being overweight though they are usually in a normal weight range.
Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder is recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food uncontrollably till they feel uncomfortably full in a short period. During this episode, they feel a loss of control and later feel shame, distress, or guilt. Over some time, they may develop weight gain and lifestyle disorders because of this.
People with orthorexia become so fixated on so-called ‘healthy eating’ that they damage their well-being. Though some knowledge and application of healthy food habits are good, people with orthorexia go to extremes and are constantly preoccupied with food labels, ingredients, food blogs, etc., and spend a significant amount of time on this.
Where the person craves and eats non-food items, which puts them at an increased risk of getting poisoned, infected, or injured.
Rumination disorder involves the regular regurgitation of food that he/she had recently eaten that occurs for at least one month. They do not appear to be making an effort, nor do they seem to be stressed, upset, or disgusted.
Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder
People with this disorder limit the amount and/or types of food consumed. They do not express any distress about body shape, size, or fears of fatness. This avoidance is mainly related to texture, colour, smell, and other sensory characteristics of food. They may also fear the consequences of eating a particular food.
What Are The Risk Factors For Eating Disorder?
Multiple risk factors can contribute to the development of an eating disorder. Biological factors such as genetics, family history, and hormonal imbalances can play a role. Psychological factors, such as low self-esteem, perfectionism, anxiety, and depression, can also increase the likelihood of developing an eating disorder.
Personality traits like impulsivity, emotional instability, and obsessiveness can increase the risk of developing an eating disorder. Additional risk factors include a history of dieting, a history of abuse or trauma, and a history of substance abuse.
It is essential to recognise these risk factors and seek professional help if you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of an eating disorder. Individuals can recover and maintain a healthy relationship with food and their body with the proper eating disorders treatment near me.
What Are The Consequences Of Eating Disorders?
Eating disorders can cause various physical symptoms, both minor and severe. Some more visible physical signs include dry skin, loss of muscular mass, brittle hair and nails, and extreme thinness. However, eating disorders can lead to other health problems, such as Type II diabetes and pancreatitis. Other long-term physical consequences of eating disorders include –
Heart Problems – Eating disorders, particularly anorexia nervosa, can harm cardiovascular health. When the body lacks calories, it breaks down its muscles for fuel. The heart is the most critical muscle in the body.
The risk of heart failure grows when it does not receive enough fuel to pump blood or when it begins to break down. Bulimia can also lead to heart failure because vomiting depletes the body of essential minerals and electrolytes such as potassium (which the heart needs to operate).
Dehydration & Malnutrition – Restricting your diet or removing essential nutrients could result in significant deficits in your body. Dehydration often indicates your body is not receiving enough fluids to function correctly, resulting in kidney failure, seizures, exhaustion, diarrhoea, and muscular cramps. Malnutrition occurs when your body does not receive enough nutrients and proteins, which can reduce immune function and lead to various health issues, such as anaemia.
Slowed Brain Function – Despite weighing only a few pounds, the brain takes up to one-fifth of the calories in your body. On the other hand, dieting, fasting, starving, and inconsistent eating deprive the brain of the energy it requires to function and concentrate effectively.
Decreased Hormone Level – When we consume fat and cholesterol, our bodies use them to produce hormones. When we limit our intake of fats and calories, our levels of sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone) can drop. Thyroid hormone levels may also decrease. These can cause a young woman’s period to stop, but they can also have serious repercussions, such as bone loss.
What are the Treatments for Eating Disorders?
Eating disorders are complex in their presentation, and a patient-centred approach from a qualified team of professionals is essential for recovery. Support and understanding from family and friends are a significant part of treating eating disorders.
Like symptoms, the treatments for eating disorders vary from type to type and person to person. It will involve a set of planned steps, from a multidisciplinary team’s assessment to developing a healthy relationship with food and understanding its importance. Eating Disorders Treatment Centre treatment would involve extensive psychotherapy and medications
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