Eating Disorders describe illnesses include inadequate or excessive food intake which can ultimately damage an individual’s well-being. It is also characterized by severe distress or concern about body weight or shape. An eating disorder is also due to an unhealthy attitude to food which can make ill. It can involve several factors like eating too much or too little or becoming obsessed with weight and body shape. There are treatments that can help to recover from an eating disorder. Men and women of any age can get an eating disorder affecting mostly young women aged 13 to 17 years old. The exact cause of eating disorders is unknown and is believed to be a combination of biological, psychological, and/or environmental abnormalities. Biological factors can be irregular hormone functions, genetics, and nutritional deficiencies. Environmental factors can be dysfunctional family dynamic, Professions promoting being thin and an emphasis is placed on maintaining a lean body for enhanced performance. Few of the psychological factors include negative body image and poor self-esteem. Eating disorders affect both the genders during the teen years or young adulthood but may also develop during childhood or later in life. The rate of occurrence among women is higher than men. To escalate awareness of the impact of Eating Disorders, the dangerous stereotypes and myths National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is held from february 26 through march 4. It is an international awareness event focused on educating the public about eating disorders, screening individuals for eating disorders and connecting those who may be at-risk with local treatment resources.
The three most common types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. In anorexia nervosa, the subjects typically have an obsessive fear of gaining weight. refusal to maintain healthy body weight and an unrealistic perception of body image. Many people fiercely limit the quantity of food they consume and eat very small quantities of only certain foods. They typically weigh themselves repeatedly and view themselves as overweight even when they are clearly underweight. It can have damaging health effects such as brain damage, multi-organ failure, bone loss, heart difficulties, and infertility. The risk of death is highest in individuals with this disease. It has the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder. While many young women and men with this disorder die from complications associated with starvation, others die of suicide which is found to be more in women. The typical symptoms which develop over a time period are osteoporosis, mild anemia, weakness, brittle hair, and nails, dry and yellowish skin, growth of fine hair all over the body (lanugo), severe constipation, low blood pressure, slowed breathing and pulse, brain damage, multiorgan failure, drop in internal body temperature causing cold feel all the time, lethargy, sluggishness, and infertility.
Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by repeated binge eating followed by compensatory behaviors. People perform forced vomiting, excessive exercise, or extreme use of laxatives or diuretics for compensation of overeating. Unlike anorexia nervosa, people with bulimia nervosa usually maintain what is considered a healthy or relatively normal weight. Bulimia patients suffer from the fear of weight gain and feel severely unhappy with their body size and shape. The binge-eating and purging cycle is typically done in secret, creating feelings of shame, guilt, and lack of control. This can have injuring effects, such as gastrointestinal problems, severe dehydration, and heart difficulties resulting from an electrolyte imbalance. Individuals suffering from Binge Eating Disorder frequently lose control over their eating. Due to this people suffering from this disease are obese and at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Some of the symptoms include chronically inflamed and sore throat, swollen salivary glands in the neck and jaw area, worn tooth enamel and increasingly sensitive and decaying teeth as a result of exposure to stomach acid, acid reflux disorder and other gastrointestinal problems, intestinal distress and irritation from laxative abuse, severe dehydration from purging of fluids, electrolyte imbalance (too low or too high levels of sodium, calcium, potassium and other minerals) which can lead to stroke or heart attack.
In binge-eating disorder, people lose control over eating. It is the most common eating disorder in the U.S. Unlike bulimia nervosa, periods of binge-eating are not followed by purging, excessive exercise, or fasting. As a result, people with binge-eating disorder often are overweight or obese. Some of the symptoms include eating unusually large amounts of food in a specific amount of time, eating in spite of not feeling hungry, eating fast during binge episodes, eating until full, eating alone or in secret to avoid embarrassment, feeling distressed, ashamed, or guilty about eating, frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss Out of the three types binge eating disorder and bulimia are followed by anorexia in terms of its occurrence.
According to Research eating disorders are caused by a complex interaction of genetic, biological, behavioral, psychological, and social factors. Researchers are using the latest technology and science to better understand eating disorders. They are working to identify DNA variations that are linked to the increased risk of developing eating disorders. Eating disorders run in families. Brain imaging studies are also providing a better understanding of eating disorders. For example, researchers have found differences in patterns of brain activity in women with eating disorders in comparison with healthy women. This kind of research can help guide the development of new means of diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders.
Adequate nutrition, reducing excessive exercise, and stopping purging behaviors are the foundations of the treatment of eating disorders. Treatment plans are tailored according to individual needs of the patients and may include individual, group, and/or family psychotherapy, medical care and monitoring, nutritional counseling, and medications. Psychotherapies are performed and they are family-based therapy called the Maudsley approach. In this approach parents of adolescents with anorexia nervosa take full responsibility for feeding their child. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of psychotherapy is performed to reduce or eliminate binge-eating and purging behaviors. It is taught to the person how to identify distorted or unhelpful thinking patterns and recognize and change inaccurate beliefs. Therapy is fundamental treatment as it teaches an individual to recover and heal from traumatic life events and learn healthier coping skills and methods for expressing emotions, communicating and maintaining healthy relationships.
Some evidence suggests the use of medications such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, or mood stabilizers approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be effective. They have been found to be helpful for treating eating disorders and other co-occurring illnesses such as anxiety or depression. The biggest concern in the treatment of eating disorders is addressing any health issues that may have been a consequence of eating disordered behaviors.