Eating disorders are mental health conditions that are related to distorted body image, preoccupation with food, and intense disturbances in emotions. These conditions may result in significant weight loss and gastrointestinal complications, as well as problems with interpersonal functioning. They can affect anyone at any age. However, they are more common in young women.
Eating disorders are not a choice. They are a serious condition that requires professional treatment. People who suffer from them can also develop other psychiatric and medical complications. For example, people with binge eating disorder are often at risk for obesity. Many of the symptoms can be life-threatening.
Anorexia nervosa is one of the most common eating disorders. It is an overriding desire to be thin. This may lead to self-starvation and death. The patient is unable to maintain an appropriate body weight based on age, stature, and sex. In addition, the patient has a distorted sense of self and a fear of weight gain. As a result, the patient often avoids certain foods and experiences severe distress. Some people with anorexia have difficulty eating in public.
Bulimia nervosa is a type of eating disorder that involves bingeing and purging. The person may lose weight through excessive exercise and dieting. They then purge by vomiting or using laxatives. There are risks associated with this condition, including gastrointestinal dysmotility, brittle hair, and heart disease.
Body dysmorphic disorder is another eating disorder. The patient has an obsession with their physical appearance and body shape. While not as severe as anorexia, the patient also has an obsession with the idea of losing weight. Symptoms can include frequent self-induced vomiting, a distorted body image, and difficulty eating in social situations.
Other types of eating disorders include binge-eating disorder and avoidant restrictive food intake disorder. Both of these involve repeated episodes of binge eating and a lack of compensatory behaviors. Binge-eating disorder is usually diagnosed during adolescence, while avoidant restrictive food intake disorder is more likely to occur later in life.
Eating disorders can affect anyone at any age. However, men and women are at greater risk of developing the disorder than are girls and boys. Although eating disorders do not have a clear cause, some research suggests that there are biological and cultural factors that contribute to their development. Also, trauma can play a role.
The most common trigger for an eating disorder is dieting. A person with anorexia or bulimia is afraid of gaining weight, so they try to prevent it by restricting their food intake or purging the calories they have consumed.
There is no cure for anorexia nervosa. Treatment may include counseling and medications. If you or a loved one has an eating disorder, BetterHelp has a network of eating disorder professionals to help you. You can get support through their live chat or video services.
Having an eating disorder can be frightening and stressful. It can affect every aspect of your life. You may have trouble with relationships, have emotional or psychological problems, or have a history of substance abuse.