An eating disorder is not just about extreme liking or disliking a particular food, but it is more about mental conditions that need medical intervention and help from psychological experts. If you or someone you know is suffering from any eating disorders it is vital to seek professional advice.
Most experts in the field of medicine believe that this mental condition is caused by diverse factors. Genetics is one of the most common factors that can trigger a disorder. A study conducted in a twin who was separated and adopted by different families showed that this disorder might be hereditary because both of them develop the condition later in life. This research showed that a twin can still develop similar eating disorders even separated and has 50 percent chances of developing such a condition.
Another cause is personality such as impulsivity; neuroticism and perfectionism are traits that are linked to a higher risk of having such mental condition.
Other possible causes are related to environment and society that includes peer pressure, wanting to have a slim figure, society’s high appreciation for thinness, and media exposure promoting physical ideals of beauty that are according to size and weight.
The latest studies suggest that eating disorders are caused by diverse brain structures like the normal level of brain messengers known as dopamine and serotonin.
1. Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia nervosa is the most commonly known eating disorder that can develop during the adolescent period, and it is prevalent in women than in men. People with this condition think and believe that they are overweight even if they are already extremely underweight. Patients with this mental condition are over monitoring their weight thus avoiding several foods that they believe can add to their weight. Having anorexia can restrict calorie intake that is below normal.
Possible symptoms are:
- underweight compared to other people with the same age and height
- too restrictive eating behavior
- intense fear of being overweight despite being thin
People with anorexia avoid eating in public and an extreme desire to control everything around them especially when it comes to food. There are two types of this condition such as restricting diet and binge eating. The restrictive diet comes with an excessive loss of weight through fasting, dieting, and doing heavy exercises. Binge eating is characterized by eating a lot or eat very little. Both conditions end up throwing up after eating and most of them take laxatives or diuretics. In the long run, people suffering from it can lead to multiple organ failure.
2. Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimia is almost the same as anorexia that can develop during adolescence to early adulthood and common in women than in men. The only difference is that bulimic people are not underweight and look normal. They tend to eat a large amount of food which they normally restrict in their diet for a specific time then purge. They eat until their stomach is painfully full and feel the need to purge by vomiting or using laxatives and diuretics. Most of them go into fasting right after eating a lot.
Possible symptoms are:
- eating a lot without control
- purging to prevent gaining weight after eating a lot
- low self-esteem
- fear of gaining excess weight even at a normal weight
The side effects of bulimia are inflamed sore throat, tooth decay, acid reflux, and irritated gut because of the constant vomiting.
3. Binge Eating
This type of eating disorder is very common in the United States and similar to bulimia that starts during the adolescent stage up to adulthood. The binge eating disorder also consumes a large amount of food in one sitting and cannot control their urge to eat. The difference is that they do not go into purge like vomiting, and they do not restrict calorie intake.
Possible symptoms are:
- rapidly eating too much food secretly despite feeling full
- lack of self-control when eating
- lack of self-esteem because of binge eating
- lack the urge to exercise or go into a healthy diet
People suffering from binge eating disorder are mostly overweight and obese. This condition can lead to a lot of complications like diabetes, stroke, and heart diseases.
Pica is one of the most unusual eating disorders that are characterized by the craving of anything that is not considered food. People suffering from such conditions like to eat non-food items like soil, chalk, ice, paper, pebbles, detergent, and many more that are not fit for human consumption and considered unsafe. Pica is seen in children, adolescents, and adults like pregnant women. Individuals with this condition may suffer from poisoning, gut injuries, infections, and nutrient deficiencies. This condition is the deadliest eating disorder.