Eating Disorders Are a Serious Issue
Eating disorders can affect both males and females, with a higher instance occurring in females. An eating disorder is a potentially deadly syndrome, or illness, that has a biological base. The predisposition of developing an eating disorder is heavily influenced by emotional, societal, and cultural factors. Many eating disorder patients suffer without any help or treatment simply because of the stigmas attached to eating disorders, but with proper treatment, recovery is attainable.
Types of Eating Disorders
There are three main types of eating disorders, and it is possible that symptoms of all three occur in one person. The three types are known as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder, which are also known as compulsive overeating. Patients suffering from any of these disorders experience extreme emotions, attitude changes, and strange behaviors, especially related to food and weight issues. People suffering from any eating disorder tend to have a negative body image.
Men and women suffering from anorexia nervosa engage in self-starvation and extreme weight loss. Patients typically refuse to maintain a normal body weight and have an intense fear of becoming fat or gaining any weight. Additionally, anorexia patients feel fat despite their actual weight. Females often stop having menstrual periods due to the extreme weight loss.
Bulimia nervosa is defined by binge eating and purging, which is usually done in a secretive cycle. Binge eating is characterized by eating a large amount of food in a very short period of time, normally more than what most people would eat in one meal, or even a day. Purging to get rid of the food and corresponding calories through over-exercising, excessive laxative use, or even self-induced vomiting immediately follows the binging. Most patients experience repeated episodes of binging and purging and feel out of control during these episodes.
Compulsive overeating, or binge eating disorder, is similar to bulimia but has no episodes of purging. Patients suffering from compulsive overeating will eat continuously and impulsively even after they feel completely full. In place of purging, there can be sporadic fasting periods, repetitive dieting, and most often feelings of shame and self-hate. Most patients susceptible to binge eating disorder also suffer from anxiety, depression, and loneliness.
The Causes of Eating Disorders
While the underlying causes of any eating disorder has yet to be determined, it has been found that a combination of factors will contribute to the onset of the disorder. Many patients begin with frequent thoughts about or obsess over food and weight. However, behavioral, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, and social factors also affect the onset and severity of eating disorders. Often, eating disorder sufferers use food and the control of food to compensate for emotions or feelings that overwhelm them otherwise.
Because eating disorders can cause serious health problems and even death, it is important to get effective treatment and quickly. The earlier an eating disorder is detected and treated, the better chances a patient has of recovering. Usually, psychotherapy and counseling are the most effective treatments for any eating disorder. Accompanied with medical and nutritional monitoring, therapy is the most effective way to treat an eating disorder.