What Does An Eating Disorder Look Like?
An eating disorder is a potentially life-threatening disease, which is made up of extreme behaviors, emotions, and attitudes regarding one’s weight, self-image, and food.
This disorder affects one’s emotional and physical health and is a complex disorder that does not usually come and go, but can be an ongoing disease and struggle throughout a lifetime.
You may think to yourself, how does someone get to that point with their body? It may have begun with a person eating smaller amounts of food, or even larger amounts of food, but then urges can just spiral out of control.
Causes of Eating Disorders
Research has found that the cause of eating disorders is a complex combination of genes, biology, behavior, and social and psychological factors. Neuroimaging, behavior studies, and genetic studies can help provide clues to how each may respond to specific treatments for this illness.
People with anorexia nervosa often see themselves as overweight, when in fact, they are very thin. There becomes a psychological obsession with having control over food, eating and weight management. People with anorexia nervosa weigh themselves repeatedly, portion food in a very calculated way, and eat small quantities of usually very specific foods, refraining from other foods. Another option may be that they binge eat on large quantities of food and then force themselves to vomit, or misuse laxatives or diuretics.
Some who have this eating disorder may recover with treatment after just one episode, or some may have some relapses while others may have a more chronic illness that is much more long lasting.
Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa
- Brain damage
- Brittle nails and hair
- Distorted body image, low self esteem
- Extreme thinness
- Extremely restricted eating
- Feeling sluggish
- Intense fear of weight gain
- Lack of menstruation
- Low blood pressure and damage to heart structure and function
- Osteoporosis in bones
- Relentless pursuit of being thin, with an unwillingness to maintain a normal health body weight
- Severe constipation
People with bulimia nervosa tend to eat significant amounts of food, and through a feeling of lack of control, they then purge or use laxatives or diuretics. This is a repeated binge and purge cycle that has severe ramifications on the digestive system, along with causing a chemical imbalance in the body. Unlike anorexia nervosa, people with bulimia nervosa usually are normal weight or even overweight. But they both share the common thread of fear over weight gain and have severe body image issues.
Bulimic behavior is usually done secretly, because it is accompanied with feelings of shame and disgust over the body, and the cycle can occur several times a day to several times a week.
Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa
- Acid reflux
- Electrolyte imbalance
- High Cholesterol
- Inflamed and sore throat
- Sensitive or decaying tooth enamel, resulting from stomach acid
- Severe dehydration
- Swollen glands in neck and jaw
- Type II Diabetes
Binge Eating Disorder
With binge eating disorder, a person loses control over their eating and eat in excess. Unlike bulimia or anorexia, they do not purge, fast or excessively exercise, so they are usually very overweight or even obese. These people are at a high risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure and have feelings of guilt, shame and distress over binge eating. These feelings often then lead to more binge-eating.
Treatment of Eating Disorders
These medical illnesses are treatable! Talk therapy can help to put an end to over exercising and purging as well as other destructive behaviors. On top of that, adequate nutrition, medical care and monitoring and a support group or supportive family, are all effective methods for helping to treat eating disorders.
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