THE ROOTS OF AN EATING DISORDER

Eating disorders affect anyone. Your age, race, ethnicity, gender, body weight, or size doesn’t matter. Often an eating disorder starts when a person is a teenager or a young adult. However, you may be one of the few people who developed an eating disorder when you were a child or an adult.

3 Common Eating Disorders

The three well-known eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. How do you know if you have one of the disorders? Let’s look at the different types.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is when you avoid food, have extreme food intake restrictions, or only eat certain foods. Despite being severely underweight, you can think you are heavier than you are. Your distorted bodyweight image can cause a need to weigh yourself repeatedly.

Within the category of anorexia nervosa, there are two categories of anorexia: restrictive and binge-purge.

  • If you fall into the restrictive subtype, you severely restrict the amount or type of food you eat. For example, you weigh your food and limit yourself to a specific color of food.
  • Those who binge-purge also place extreme restrictions on the amount of food they eat and the type of food. If you are binge-purging, you might also use laxatives, diuretics, or vomit as a way to regulate your weight.

Symptoms of anorexia nervosa are:

  • Severely restricted eating or excessive exercise
  • Being emaciated (very thin)
  • A constant goal of being thin and refusing to maintain a healthy weight
  • Despair about gaining weight
  • Denial of being underweight
  • Linking self-esteem with bodyweight
  • Distorted body image

Long-term symptoms of anorexia nervosa are:

  • Development of osteoporosis or osteopenia  (thin bones)
  • Decrease in muscle mass or muscle weakening
  • Mild anemia
  • Hair or nails are brittle
  • Skin is dry and has a yellow tint
  • Brain damage
  • Low blood pressure, slowed pulse
  • Multiple organ failure

Anorexia nervosa can cause all of these symptoms and can be deadly if you continue to leave your anorexia nervosa eating disorder untreated. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality (death) rate of any mental disorder.” Why? Those with anorexia nervosa can die from the medical conditions listed above and others not listed, including starvation.

Bulimia Nervosa

Do you have episodes where you consume a substantial amount of food? Do you feel you don’t have control over these episodes? You may have bulimia. When you experience an episode of eating a large quantity of food and follow the consumption by forcing yourself to vomit or use laxatives or diuretics, excessive exercise, fasting, or one or more of these behaviors, you should talk to a therapist about bulimia.

A misconception is everyone who has an eating disorder is extremely thin. However, people who have bulimia can keep their weight within a normal range or be overweight.

Symptoms of bulimia are:

  • A perpetual sore throat. If you vomit after a binge eating session, the acid from your stomach will hurt your throat. Over time it will damage the throat lining.
  • Your saliva glands will become swollen. Saliva glands are in your neck and jaw.
  • Your tooth enamel will wear away, becoming sensitive and prone to decay. As a result, your teeth are damaged for the same reason your throat is hurt. In addition, stomach acid will damage your teeth.
  • Your intestines will experience distress or irritation. Some examples are constipation, nausea, gas, diarrhea, or irritable bowel syndrome.
  • An electrolyte imbalance. When your electrolytes aren’t balanced, your sodium, calcium, or potassium levels are too high or too low.

Binge-Eating Disorder

People who suffer from binge-eating don’t follow the same behaviors as those with bulimia. While they lose control or consume large amounts of food in one sitting or time, they don’t follow these episodes with vomiting, excessive exercise, laxatives, or diuretics. Because they don’t have these harmful behaviors, they are often overweight.

Some of the symptoms of a binge-eating disorder are:

  • Rapid eating during an episode
  • Consuming food despite not being hungry or being full
  • Continuing to eat even when you feel uncomfortable
  • Hiding or keeping your eating habits secret
  • Feelings of shame, regret, or embarrassment caused by your eating
  • Frequent attempts to lose weight; many times, you won’t lose weight even when you try.

Causes of Eating Disorders

Researchers aren’t sure why a person has an eating disorder. An eating disorder is often the result of biological, genetic, mental health, and social factors. If you have an eating disorder, remember it’s not your fault, and there are treatment options.

Those with mental health disorders like depression or anxiety can have an increased risk of an eating disorder. Also, if you have a substance use disorder, you are at an increased risk of having an eating disorder.

Treatment for Eating Disorders

Treatment for eating disorders is essential. The best-case scenario is beginning treatment in the early stages of the condition. Early treatment can decrease your risk of suicide or health complications.

Perhaps you recognize some of your behaviors in the symptoms of an eating disorder. Then, you can find help through a mental health treatment center. When you are in treatment, you will work with your therapist to find the root of your eating disorder. Then, you can begin psychotherapy or cognitive behavior therapy (CBT).

Your treatment plan can also include medical care, monitoring your well-being, nutrition counseling, or integrative therapy. Your treatment plan can focus on the symptoms and the behaviors.

If you have an eating disorder, you can find help. Remember, since there are varying factors, you are not to blame if you have an eating disorder. You can, however, start treatment and discover a healthier version of yourself.

Eating disorders occur regardless of who you are, how old you are, or your social environment. Our therapeutic and nutritional program is rooted in the belief you deserve specialized treatment. We blend the appropriate combination of psychotherapy and integrative therapy to help you succeed in discovering the root of your eating disorder. We encourage you to contact us to learn more about our eating disorder treatment program. Call us today at (844) 227-7014.