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Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders

 
Eating disorders are serious and often fatal illnesses. Most commonly, however, eating disorders are misunderstood as a Lifestyle choice. Eating disorders can cause severe disturbances in one’s eating habits and also in their related thoughts and emotions. When someone is preoccupied with food or shape of the body or the body weight it is likely for them to develop eating disorder. There are three most commonly cited eating disorders :

These are

  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Bulimia Nervosa , and
  • Binge eating disorder.

 
Signs and symptoms
 
Let us now look at each of these three eating disorders in detail.
Anorexia Nervosa
 
Even when they are dangerously underweight people suffering from Anorexia Nervosa believe that they are overweight. As they are preoccupied with their body weight they measure their body weight repeatedly.

They cut down on the amount of food they eat , restrict calories intake. Some people are observed to do exercise excessively with the intent of burning of more calories than there taken in. In some extreme cases people suffering from Anorexia Nervosa are seen to vomit or use laxatives lose weight. Compared to any other mental disorder more number of people die from Anorexia Nervosa. These deaths include people dying from complications associated with starvation and people committing suicide.
 
People suffering from Anorexia Nervosa are often observed to be extremely thin with food intake restricted to the extreme. They always seem to think about getting even thinner and seem to be under a constant fear of gaining weight. This seems to carry a distorted body image. They do not acknowledge or understand the serious implications of low body weight.
 
As this illness progresses over time these patients can have severe impact on their body. These symptoms include

  • brain damage , multi-organ failure
  •  osteoporosis or thinning of the bones
  •  infertility
  •  low blood pressure with slowed breathing and pulse.

 
 Bulimia Nervosa
 
People suffering from Bulimia Nervosa usually have repeated occurrences of episodes of eating unusually large quantities of food. They feel helpless in controlling their urge to eat large amounts of food. They tend to engage in activities that they believe will compensate for the binge eating episode they had. These activities include forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives, extreme fasting and excessive exercise. Not all of these are observed in every person suffering from Bulimia Nervosa but a combination of them are seen.
 
People suffering from Bulimia Nervosa are often seem to have gastrointestinal problems such as Acid Reflux disorder, Intestinal disturbances and irritation from laxative abuse. Some suffer severe dehydration as Fluids are pushed out of the body. In some cases people suffer stroke or Heart Attack due to electrolyte imbalance. People suffering from this illness often tend to have sore throat with swollen salivary glands. They are seen to have worn out tooth as a result of their exposure  to the stomach acid.

Binge eating disorder
People who suffer from the binge eating disorder have no control over their eating habits. It is to be noted that people who suffer from Bulimia Nervosa are seen to be slightly underweight , normal weight or slightly overweight. Whereas, people suffering from binge eating are often obese or overweight. This is because unlike Bulimia Nervosa binge eating episodes are not followed by vomiting, excessive exercise, or fasting.
 
People suffering from the binge eating disorder usually eat even when they are not hungry and feel full. They are often seen to eat large quantities of food in a specific amount of time. They prefer to eat alone or in secret with the intent of avoiding embarrassment.
 
Treatment
As people with eating disorders are at a higher risk for suicide and medical complications, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible.
Treatment plan is customized to suit specific individual suffering from the eating disorder. These treatment strategies include one or more of the following :

  •  medical care and monitoring
  •  nutritional counseling
  •  medication
  •  individual, group, family psychotherapy.
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