Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are very serious conditions where a person, female or male, can become so obsessed with food intake, body image and weight that it interferes with almost every aspect of their lives. These disorders can, if left untreated, cause serious physical problems, and become life threatening in severe cases. Treatments for eating disorders vary, and can involve nutritional intervention and education, hospitalization, counseling, family counseling, psychotherapy and/or medications.

There are three main categories of eating disorder: Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating disorder. Each of these have their own symptoms.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa is a food obsession where the person is so focused on being thin that they will sometimes starve themselves to the point that they become malnourished, causing major physical problems, up to complications that can result in death.

Some of the symptoms of anorexia are, but not limited to:

  • Refusal to eat
  • Denial of hunger
  • Distorted self image, or negative self image
  • Intense fear of weight gain
  • Excessive exercise
  • Moodiness, irritability, social withdraw
  • Extreme loss of weight or thiness
  • Sleep troubles
  • Loss of menstruation (amenorrhea)
  • Dry skin
  • Abdominal pain or constipation
  • Dehydration
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Low Blood pressure

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia is characterized by a “binging and purging” cycle, where a person would typically eat excessively large amounts of food in one sitting, sometimes to the point of discomfort or pain, then try and rid their system of such food by vomiting, laxatives, or extreme exercise.

Some of the signs and symptoms can be:

  • Inducing vomiting
  • Laxitive abuse
  • Negative body image or overly focused on weight
  • Distorted body image
  • Sores in the mouth or damage to teeth or gums
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of menstruation (amenorrhea)
  • Low self esteem

Binge-eating disorder

Binge-eating disorder is where a person eats excessive amounts of food, even when they’re not hungry, sometimes long after the point where they’re uncomfortably full or in pain.

Symptoms of Binge-eating can include:

  • Eating excessive amounts of food quickly
  • Feeling out of control of eating habits
  • Eating alone or feeling ashamed to eat in front of others
  • Negative feelings over the volume of food consumed

There are multiple reasons that people develop eating disorders, which include age, family history, mental disorders, life transitions, or being encouraged to lose weight for jobs, relationships, athletics, or family pressure.

Eating disorders can become quite serious, and may become life-threatening if left unchecked or untreated, and the sooner a person seeks help, the better. With serious complications that include depression, multiple organ damage and/or failure, stunted growth, bone loss, heart problems and death, if you or your loved ones are experiencing signs of anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder, contact a physician or local mental health professional right away.