Symptoms of eating disorders
Significant and persistent irregularities in eating patterns, as well as the upsetting thoughts and feelings that accompany them are characteristics of the behavioral disease known as an eating disorder. The effects of these eating disorders on social, psychological, and physical function can be very serious.
Up to 5% of the population is afflicted by eating problems, which most frequently appear in adolescence and early adulthood. There are a few that are more common in women, such as bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa, but they can all affect anyone at any age. Obsessions with food, weight, or shape, as well as worry over eating or the effects of consuming particular foods, are typically associated with eating disorders. Eating disorders are associated with a variety of behaviors, including dietary restrictions or avoiding specific foods, binge eating, vomiting excessively or abusing laxatives, and compulsive exercise.
Types of eating disorders
Patients with bulimia nervosa commonly alternate bingeing on high-calorie, “forbidden,” foods with dieting or restricting their diet to just low-calorie, “safe” foods. When someone is binge eating, they quickly consume a large amount of food and feel helpless over what or how much they are eating. Oftentimes, binge eating is a hidden behavior accompanied by feelings of guilt or shame. During binges, food is frequently consumed quickly and past the point of fullness, which can make one feel sick and uncomfortable.
Bulimia nervosa can affect persons who are underweight, medium-weight, overweight, or even obese. Instead of an anorexia nervosa binge-eating/purging type, bulimia nervosa is the diagnosis if the person is underweight. Others who are close to them might not be aware that a person has bulimia nervosa because they do not appear to be underweight and because their habits are hidden. The following list contains possible indicators of bulimia nervosa:
- Frequent toilet visits right after meals
- Large amounts of food disappearing or unaccounted-for empty food wrappers and containers
- Persistent throat pain
- Salivary gland swelling in the cheeks
- Dental decay brought on by gastric acid eroding tooth enamel
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease and heartburn
- Abuse of laxatives or diet pills
- Recurring diarrhea without a cause
- Diuretics are misused (water pills)
- Feeling dizzy or faint as a result of intensive purging practises that dehydrate you
Esophageal tears, stomach ruptures, and dangerous cardiac rhythms are just a few of the uncommon but possibly fatal effects of bulimia. Patients with severe bulimia must be closely watched so that any potential side effects can be identified and treated.
Self-starvation, weight loss, and low weight for height and age are characteristics of anorexia nervosa. Except for opioid use disorder, anorexia has the greatest mortality rate of all psychiatric disorders. Additionally, it may be a very deadly condition. Body mass index (BMI) for an adult with anorexia nervosa often falls below 18.5. (a measure of weight for height)
The behavior of dieters with anorexia nervosa is driven by an excessive fear of gaining weight or becoming obese. Even though some anorexics assert that they desire to put on weight and are working towards this goal, their behavior does not back up this assertion. They might, for instance, only partake in a minimal amount of low-calorie foods and partake in intense activities. Some anorexics nervosa patients will occasionally binge eat and/or purge by vomiting or using laxatives excessively.
Anorexia nervosa has two variations:
- restrictive kind, whereby people primarily lose weight through diets, fasting, or strenuous exercise, and
- the intermittent type of binge-eating and/or purging is exhibited by those who have this disorder.
The following indicators of hunger or purging may gradually manifest:
- Menstrual cycles end
- Feeling lightheaded or faint due to dehydration
- Brittle nails and hair
- Atrophy and muscle loss due to cold intolerance
- Heartburn and reflux (in those who vomit)
- Extreme bloating, constipation, and fullness after meals
- Stress fractures and bone loss from compulsive exercise that result in osteopenia or osteoporosis.
- Depression, irritation, anxiety, lack of focus, and exhaustion
Serious medical consequences, which include abnormal heart rhythms, kidney issues, seizures, or people who puke or use laxatives, can be fatal.
Binge Eating Disorder
When someone has a binge eating episode, they tend to eat a lot of food quickly, feel helpless in the face of their behavior, and become upset. It’s comparable to bulimia nervosa. But unlike persons who have bulimia nervosa, they don’t frequently use compensatory strategies to get rid of the food, such as fasting, exercise, or misusing laxatives. A persistent issue, binge eating can have serious negative effects on one’s health, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases.
A person must regularly binge (at least once per week for three months), feel out of control, and exhibit three or more of the following traits in order to be diagnosed with binge eating disorder:
- Consuming food more quickly than usual.
- Eating till one is too full to continue.
- Consuming large amounts of food while not being hungry
- Eating by oneself because of embarrassment about how much they are consuming.
- Feeling extremely guilty, unhappy, or dissatisfied with oneself afterwards.
Similar to bulimia nervosa, cognitive behavioral psychotherapy for binge eating is the most successful treatment for the illness. Additionally, effective treatments for depression include interpersonal therapy and a number of antidepressants.
Additional Known Feeding and Eating Disorders
Eating disorders or eating behaviour abnormalities that upset people and interfere with their ability to function in their families, communities, or at work fall under this diagnostic category even though they do not fit into any of the other ones on this page. In some circumstances, this is due to the behavior’s frequency falling short of the diagnostic cutoff (for example, the regularity of binges in bulimia or binge eating disorder) or the anorexia nervosa diagnosis’ weight requirements not being reached.
Another special issue with eating and feeding is “atypical anorexia nervosa.” This category of people consists of those whose starting weight was above average and who may have lost a large amount of weight while exhibiting behaviours and a level of dread of fatness typical with anorexia nervosa, but who have not yet been classified as underweight based on their BMI.
People who lose a lot of weight quickly by engaging in excessive weight control activities may be at a significant risk of medical difficulties even though they appear to be normal or above average weight since the rate of weight reduction is associated to medical complications.
Causes of eating disorders
The precise cause of eating problems is unknown. Like other mental illnesses, there could be a multitude of causes for it, such:
- Both biology and genetics: Some people may have genes that make them more likely to have eating disorders. Biological factors may have a role in eating disorders, such as changes in brain chemistry.
- Mental and emotional health: Eating disorders in people who have them may be influenced by psychological and emotional problems. They might struggle with relationships, perfectionism, impulsivity, and low self-esteem.
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