Eating disorders are quite common. According to ANAD, in the U.S., at least 30 million people suffer from eating disorders. Eating disorders are the highest in terms of mortality rate out of all mental illnesses. As shocking as it seems, it is painfully true.
According to (DSM) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, eating disorders are now recognized as mental disorders. Some people may see eating disorders as a lifestyle choice or a phase, but they are mental disorders which should be taken seriously.
Most common symptoms of these disorders are usually severe food binges, restriction or purging behaviors such as vomiting. They often result in serious health issues and sometimes lead to death.
Here are some of the common eating disorders
1. Anorexia Nervosa
Commonly known as anorexia, it is found mostly in women. Most often, women limit the amount of food they eat to avoid weight gain.
People with this disorder have an intense fear of gaining weight and may think they are fat when in fact they are thin. They also over exercise avoid any weight gain.
They eat little food which could lead to serious health issues and sometimes even death.
Some common symptoms are
- Lanugo-growth of fine hair all over the body
- Thin, brittle nails
- Slow thinking
- Weak muscles
- Constipation or bloating
- Dry yellow skin
- Dizziness and feeling weak
Some behavior changes include:
- Always walking about food and weight
- Minimal eating
- Making yourself throw up once you eat
- Taking diet pills
- Excessive exercises
Most often, anorexia will cause heart problems such as low blood pressure or even heart attacks. Kidney stones are also a common occurrence as well as a higher risk of miscarriage.
Research has shown that more women and girls die from anorexia compared to other eating disorders. Most people with anorexia often have mental health issues such as depression.
2. Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimia develops during early adulthood. Unlike anorexia, people with bulimia eat large amounts of food in a short period.
The disorder is often characterized by incidences of binging and then what follows is a compensatory behavior through purging behaviors such as vomiting, laxatives and over exercising.
The symptoms may seem similar to those of binge eating, but people who have bulimia have a relatively healthy weight.
Symptoms of Bulimia
- Forced vomiting
- Obsessed talks of body weight
- Feeling guilty after eating
- Binge eating
- Withdrawing from the family after meals
- Sore throat
- Swollen parotid glands
- Scars on hands
- Irritability and depression
- The fear of gaining weight even when their weight is normal
It usually starts during adolescence in most cases. Here, people eat unusually large portions of food in shorter periods. They often feel out of control during binges.
Unlike the two previous disorders, people with this disorder don’t have purging behaviors only that they feel guilty after the episode.
- Excessive eating of food until they become uncomfortably full
- Lack of control during the binge eating episodes
- Guilt or disgust after the binge eating episode
- No purging behaviors
Most times, people who suffer from binge eating are usually obese or overweight which increases medical complications such as stroke, heart diseases or even type 2 diabetes.
Sometimes, once these complications occur, the affected person may be forced to use a lot of money treating the condition and could risk going into medical debt. To avoid this, you should take necessary steps like those here to prevent medical bills from affecting your credit score.
There are other disorders such as Pica (experience weird cravings such as soil, wool, pebble, laundry detergent, etc.), Rumination (a person re-chews food they had previously swallowed, and they either swallow it again or spit out.
Treating eating disorders
The first step towards treatment of such disorders is by visiting professionals who are highly specialized in treating them. They may include a dietitian, mental health professional, dental specialists and a support system such as your partner or family member.
Having a treatment plan should determine your needs and set goals with the help of the treatment team. The plan could include identifying affordable treatment options and treating physical complications.
Having a psychologist to help with therapy is, and it could last from a couple of months to years. But, the sessions help you find healthier ways to cope with stressful situations, get healthy habits and monitor your eating.
Most times, antidepressants are prescribed especially in cases of binge eating and bulimia because they help reduces anxiety and depression. Sometimes, the treatment may involve hospitalization if there are severe physical problems to stabilize them.
However, medications alone can’t cure these disorders alone; they have to be coupled up with psychological therapy.
If you are experiencing any such disorders, know that you are the most critical person in your treatment team. You have to participate in the treatment and be willing to do what it takes to stabilize the condition.