Eating disorders, serious conditions relating to persistent eating behaviours, can have a negative impact on your health, emotions, and ability to function in many areas of life. The most commonly seen eating disorders are anorexia and bulimia nervosa, and binge eating. In most eating disorders, people focus too much on weight and body shape or food. Impaired eating behaviours significantly impact your body's ability to assimilate nutrition and cause harm to various body systems.
Typically, eating problems and disorders develop during a person’s teen or young adult years. However, eating disorders can develop at any age. Treatment may be required to overcome these disorders and get back to healthier eating habits and reverse various health conditions.
There are mainly three types of eating disorders and the symptoms vary from one type to another.
Anorexia nervosa is a life-threatening eating disorder and is characterized by an abnormally low body mass index, intense fear of weight gain, and a distorted perception of body weight and shape. People with this eating disorder do anything to manage their body weight and shape. This, in turn, impacts their health and activities in life. Those with anorexia excessively limit their calorie intake or employ other methods for weight loss. They may involve is excessive exercise, use of laxatives, following diets, or inducing vomiting after eating to keep their weight under check.
Bulimia nervosa is a serious and life-threatening eating disorder. Those with bulimia go through episodes of binge eating and purging. They feel that they are not in control of their eating. Many people suffering from bulimia tend to curb their eating during the daytime. This often leads to binge eating and purging later on in the day. Typically, they eat large amounts of food quickly and then use unhealthy methods such as inducing vomiting, exercising too much, purging by consuming laxatives, etc., to get rid of the extra calories they have consumed because of guilt, shame, and intense weight gain fears.
If you have this disorder, you tend to regularly eat a lot of food. You will also find it difficult to control your eating habits. You will eat fast or consume more food than required, even if you are not hungry. You might continue to eat even if you feel uncomfortably full. You might feel guilty, ashamed, or disgusted after a binge but you won't do anything to compensate for this behaviour. You won’t purge or do excessive exercises like those with bulimia or anorexia. You might even hide your bingeing because of embarrassment.
Causes and Risk Factors
The reasons for the development of eating disorders are not known. As in the case of other mental illnesses, they may include:
• Genetics and biological factors such as brain chemical changes
• Psychological and emotional issues such as low self-esteem, perfectionism, impulsive behaviour, and troubled relationships
The chances of girls in their teens and young women suffering from anorexia and bulimia are higher compared to boys in their teens and young men. However, males may also suffer from eating disorders. Although people can develop eating disorders at any age, they often occur during their teen years and early 20s. Factors that may contribute to increasing the risk are family history, other mental health disorders, dieting and starvation, and stress.
Treatment for Eating Disorders
Treatment is provided based on the specific eating disorder you are suffering from and it includes improving nutrition awareness, psychotherapy, and medication. Patients whose lives are at risk may need to be hospitalized.
At SoftMind, we employ psychotherapy or talk therapy, and hypnotherapy for treating people with mild to moderate levels of eating disorders. It involves helping them to give up unhealthy habits and replace them with healthy ones. We have a team of hypnotherapists and psychotherapists who have many years of experience in treating people with eating disorders.
Generally, medications are not used for treating eating disorders, but they may be helpful to you in controlling your urge to binge eat, purge, or preoccupation with diet and food. Drugs like antidepressants and anti-anxiety medicines may be recommended in moderate to severe cases as they can help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression, which are often associated with eating disorders.