The three most common types of disordered eating are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. However, many people use the term “disordered eating” to refer to abnormal eating patterns that do not meet the criteria for an official diagnosis of an eating disorder (Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa or Binge Eating Disorder). These abnormal eating patterns can be very serious and lead to a number of medical and psychological problems.
Some of these symptoms include: a lack of energy or being tired all the time, weight fluctuations up and down or out of balance, poor dental health, dry skin and hair, thinning nails and cracked lips, irregular menstrual periods in women and a thick layer of soft, red lanugo over the body (a sign of pregnancy). Some individuals with eating disorders have a hard time accepting they have a problem. Others feel overwhelmed by the stress of treatment, and some even resist it, believing that they can recover on their own.
Eating disorders are very complex, with multiple causes that may be present at the same time. They are associated with low self-esteem and perfectionism, a desire to be thin and a fear of being overweight, depression or anxiety, or traumatic experiences, including physical or emotional abuse. They also tend to co-occur with other psychiatric conditions, such as mood and anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder or substance use issues.
People with eating disorders usually begin their unhealthy eating habits during the teenage and young adult years. They are more common in girls and women, and they typically appear as a result of a combination of psychological and medical factors.
A major life change, such as starting college, can often be a trigger for an eating disorder. It can be very hard for a student to be away from home, friends and family, and the transition into adulthood is often a stressful one, leading to an increased risk of developing an eating disorder. It is important that students get support from their loved ones to help prevent them from developing an eating disorder.
Many people have the misconception that eating disorders only affect white females from a certain socio-economic background. However, people of all genders, ages and ethnicities can develop an eating disorder. They also have a higher mortality rate than any other mental illness. It is important that we are all aware of the signs and symptoms of an eating disorder in order to seek the necessary help and treatment. Eating disorders can be treated successfully, with the right support and care. For more information on treatment options, contact the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA). It is possible to have a healthy relationship with food again. Change is not fast, but it does happen a little at a time. For more information, visit the National Eating Disorder Association website. NEDA is an excellent resource for those who have or think they may have an eating disorder, and their loved ones.