Eating disorders are characterized by irregular eating habits and serious distress about body weight or shape. The disorder includes inadequate or excessive food intake which can in turn damage an individual’s well-being.
The different forms of eating disorders include Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating disorder which are the most common forms that affect both males and females.
The disorder can occur at any stages in life but are mostly seen during the teen years or young childhood. It is a medical illness and with appropriate treatment, it can be highly effective for many of the specific types of eating disorders. This disorder commonly co-exists with other conditions such as anxiety disorder, substance abuse, or depression.
The exact cause of the disorder is unknown, but a combination of biological, psychological or environmental abnormalities may contribute to the development of these illness.
Biological factors include
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Irregular hormone function
Psychological factors include
- Poor self-esteem
- Negative body image
Environmental factors include
- Professions and careers that promote being thin and weight loss.
- Family and childhood traumas
- Cultural and peer pressure between friends can co-workers
- Stressful transition or life changes
A person suffering from the disorder may show several signs and symptoms which are
- Constant weight fluctuation
- Obsession with calories and fat contents of food
- Dieting despite being underweight
- Depression or lethargic state
- Avoidance of social functions, family and friends. Prefer being isolated and withdrawn
- A fixation with food, recipes or cooking. The individual may cook meals for others but refrain from partaking
- Switching between periods of overeating and fasting
Since these conditions are complex, a professional treatment team who has specialized in eating disorders is important to bring healing and recovery to the individual.
Treatment comprises of the following which are addressed with medical doctors, nutritionist and therapist.
- Weight restoration and stabilization. The individual should take a nutritious diet and must be guided for normal eating.
- Medical care and monitoring of the patient is important. The biggest concern is addressing the health problem that may have been a consequence of eating disordered behaviours.
- Therapy is a fundamental area of treatment because it can make the person aware of his or her own sickness, addressing the illness, and heal from traumatic life events and learn healthier coping skills and methods for expressing emotion, communicating and maintaining healthy relationships.
- Some medications are also found to be effective in helping resolve mood or anxiety symptoms.