Eating disorders encompass a range of disturbances related to food consumption. The American Psychiatric Association, in the fourth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), states that the two most serious eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. In the former, the patient refuses to maintain normal weight; in the later, he or she binges on food and controls weight gain with fasting, excessive exercise, or purging by self-induced vomiting, the use of laxatives and diuretics, or taking enemas. Both types of eating disorders are extremely serious, and anorexia, particularly, can quickly become life-threatening. This article aims to speak about eating disorders with types causes, symptoms, treatments.
What are eating disorders?
Eating disorders are often long-term illness that may require long-term treatment. They frequently occur with other mental disorders such as depression, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders. The earlier these disorders are diagnosed and treated, the better the chances are for full recovery.
Who has eating disorders?
Research shows that more than 90 percent of those who have eating disorders are women between the ages of 12 and 25. However, increasing numbers of older women and men have them, and hundreds of thousands of boys are affected as well.
What are the symptoms of eating disorders?
Anorexia nervosa symptoms:
People who have anorexia nervosa develop unusual eating habits such as avoiding food and meals, picking out a few foods and eating them in small amounts, weighing their food, and counting the calories of everything they eat. They may exercise excessively. A refusal to maintain normal weight is a key feature of anorexia.
Bulimia nervosa symptoms:
People who have bulimia eat an excessive amount of food in a single episode and almost immediately make themselves vomit or use laxatives or diuretics to get rid of the food in their bodies. This behavior often is referred to as the binge-purge cycle. Like people with anorexia, people with bulimia have an intense fear of gaining any excess weight but generally maintain near-normal weight levels.
Binge eating disorder symptoms:
People with this recently recognized disorder have frequent episodes of compulsive overeating, but unlike those with bulimia, they do not purge their bodies of food. During these food binges, they often eat alone and very quickly, regardless of whether they feel hungry or full. They often feel shame or guilt over their actions. Unlike anorexia and bulimia, binge-eating disorder occurs almost as often in men as women.
Medical problems causes eating disorders?
- Anorexia nervosa: Anorexia nervosa can slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure, increasing the chance of heart failure. Those who use drugs to stimulate vomiting, bowel movements, or urination are also at high risk for heart failure. Starvation can also result in heart failure and damage the brain. Anorexia may also cause hair and nails to grow brittle. Skin may dry out, become yellow and develop a covering of soft hair called lanugo. Mild anemia, swollen joints, reduced muscle mass, and light-headedness also commonly occur. Severe cases of anorexia can lead to brittle bones that break easily as a result of calcium loss.
- Bulimia nervosa: The acid in vomit can wear down the outer layer of the teeth, inflame and damage the esophagus and enlarge the glands near the cheeks. Damage to the stomach can also occur from frequent vomiting. Irregular heartbeats, heart failure and death may result from chemical imbalances and the loss of important minerals such ass potassium. Peptic ulcers, inflammation of the pancreas, and long-term constipation are also consequences of bulimia.
- Binge-eating disorder: Binge eating disorder can cause high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. Other effects of binge-eating disorder include fatigue, joint pain, Type-2 diabetes, gallbladder disease, and heart disease.
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Diagnosis of an eating disorder?
Diagnosis of Anorexia nervosa:
Weighs at least 15 percent below what is considered normal for others of the same height and age; misses at least three consecutive menstrual cycles (if a female of childbearing age); has an intense fear of gaining weight; refuses to maintain normal body weight; and believes he or she is overweight though in reality is dangerously thin.
Diagnosis of Bulimia nervosa:
At least two binge-purge cycles per week, on average, for at least three months; lacks control over eating behavior; and seems obsessed with body shape and weight.
Diagnosis of Binge-eating disorder:
At least two binge-eating episodes per week, on average, for six months; lacks control over eating behavior.
Treatment of Eating Disorder:
Anorexia nervosa treatment:
The first goal for the treatment of anorexia is to restore a healthy weight. This may require hospitalization. Once a person’s physical condition is stable, treatment usually involves individual psychotherapy and family therapy during which parents help their child learn to eat again and maintain healthy eating habits on his or her own. Behavioral therapy also has been effective for helping a person return to healthy eating habits. Supportive group therapy may follow, and self-help groups within communities may provide ongoing support.
Bulimia nervosa treatment:
Unless malnutrition is severe, any substance abuse problems that may be present at the time the eating disorder is diagnosed are usually treated first. The next goal of treatment is to reduce or eliminate the person’s binge-eating and purging behavior. Behavioral therapy has proven effective in achieving this goal. Psychotherapy can help prevent the eating disorder from recuring and address issues that led to the disorder. Studies have also found that antidepressants may help. As with anorexia, family therapy is also recommended.
Binge-eating disorder treatment:
The goals and strategies for treating binge-eating disorder are similar to those for bulimia.