Various Eating Disorders That You Should Know

child eating chocolate with hands

Eating disorders are mental conditions that are related to food and body obsession. Any person can be affected by an eating disorder at any stage of their life. But, it is most commonly observed in young women. As per research, up to thirteen percent of women experience an eating disorder by the age of twenty.

To the uninformed, every type of eating disorder may feel the same, wherein the person doesn’t eat enough. And they have an obsession with maintaining a slim figure. But, that is not the case. Every eating disorder is different, have different symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. This blog discusses five different types of eating disorders.

Bulimia Nervosa

It is commonly known as binge eating. Bulimia is characterized by people eating enormous amounts of food in a specific period. The person can’t control or stop the food-eating session. They continue eating until they become painfully full. This eating disorder is generally developed during adolescence and is commonly seen in women.

The side effects of bulimia include acid reflux, dehydration, and hormonal imbalance, to name a few. It can also lead to severe complications like a heart attack. Hence, treatment should be sought quickly when you or someone who knows is diagnosed with bulimia. The treatment for bulimia includes medication, including antidepressants, that can reduce the symptoms, psychotherapy, and hospitalization.

Rumination Disorder

It is a condition in which a person brings up the swallowed food (regurgitates), re-chews it, and then either re-swallows it or spits it out. The rumination occurs within the first thirty minutes after consuming a meal and is voluntary.

The disorder can affect people at any stage of their life. If not treated early, it can lead to weight loss and malnutrition. In some instances, it can even lead to the death of the person. Treatment methods for rumination disorder include behavioral therapy and medications. Ensuring adequate nutrition is essential during treatment, and other associated symptoms like anxiety and stomach discomfort need to be managed.

Anorexia Nervosa

This is the most common type of eating disorder. People suffering from it feel that they are overweight, even though they might not be. To reduce weight, they tend to skip eating meals or excessively limit their calorie intake. Anorexia generally develops during adolescence. It is observed that it affects women more than men.

The symptoms of anorexia include:

  • Restricted meals and dietary patterns.
  • Considering oneself to be highly overweight, but in reality, the person may be underweight compared to other people from the same age group
  • The pursuit of reducing weight and not being satisfied with the current body shape and weight.
  • Denial of being underweight.

Anorexia can lead to severe medical complications like bone thinning, infertility, heart failure, brain damage, and even death. The treatment methods include therapies to restore the person’s self-esteem and medications that can help restore average weight.

Pica

People suffering from pica tend to eat things that are not considered to be food. This includes craving and eating substances like chalk, dirt, paper, and detergent, to name a few. Pica is generally observed in children, especially toddlers. But, it can also affect adults, including pregnant women or people suffering from mental disorders.

Pica can lead to severe complications, including gastrointestinal ones, due to the consumption of non-food substances. It can also lead to infections and nutritional deficiencies. Treatment methods for pica include behavioral therapy, which involves training the person to eat edible foods.

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder is a relatively new diagnosis, and there’s limited information about it. This disorder is characterized by eating very little food or restricting their diet to only specific food items. This results in certain nutritional deficiencies, which can eventually lead to associated health issues. The condition is generally developed during infancy or early childhood. But, it can also persist during adulthood.

The treatment methods include nutritional counseling. The medical professional will recommend a specific diet or prescribe nutritional supplements, depending upon the deficiencies. In some cases, hospitalization may be required.

woman eating holding chopsticks

Other Disorders

Also, some eating disorders are less common. These can be broadly classified into three categories:

Purging disorders

Individuals exhibit purging behaviors like vomiting or excessive exercising to control weight.

Night eating syndrome

Individuals often keep eating at odd hours during the night.

Other specified eating disorders

These include other disorders that can’t be fit in any of the other eating disorder categories.

Eating disorders are mental health conditions more than being physical disorders. If left untreated, they can cause various mental and physical health issues. However, with the right treatment, the disorders can be cured easily. If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, you should seek help from a medical professional specializing in the field.

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