MEANING AND TYPES OF EATING DISORDERS

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) recognizes Eating Disorders as a serious mental health condition characterized by unhealthy dietary habits and an obsession with body image, weight and food. This can affect any gender but women have a higher risk of getting affected.

SYMPTOMS

  • Avoiding meals
  • Often checking oneself in the mirror
  • Self isolation. Not interacting with people where food is involved
  • Keeping a check on calories, carbs and content of food eaten
  • Often feeling tiresome
  • Episodes of fainting or feeling dizzy
  • Sudden increase or decrease in body weight
  • Low immunity

Causes

  • Low self esteem
  • Facing other mental disorders such as Depression, Anxiety, O.C.D, etc
  • Impulsivity
  • Strongly following a particular thinking
  • Experience of traumatic events such as bullying or peer pressure in the past
  • Body image dissatisfaction

TYPES OF EATING DISORDERS

PICA

It is a disorder characterized by craving and consumption of non-food materials. It is mostly found to affect children and pregnant women. Common cravings include chalk, clay, ice chips, glue, soap, etc. People suffering from PICA are found to have nutritional deficiency, stomach pain and damaged teeth. The most common causes may include autism, malnourishment, schizophrenia or pregnancy. Advice of a trained medical practitioner is essential to treat this disorder. A doctor may advice the patient to consume Vitamin supplements if the disorder is caused due to Vitamin deficiency. For a person suffering from other mental health disorders including Pica, the doctor may evaluate him/her accordingly and prescribe psychological therapy. For people having intellectual problems, Pica may last throughout their term of life, while for pregnant women and children, it may fade over a couple of months with accurate treatment.

ANOREXIA NERVOSA

This disorder leads people to obsessively think about their body weight and often see themselves as bulky. Patients follow self starvation and keep a high control over what they consume in order to lose as much weight as possible. They often end up having a life threatening low BMI (body mass index). They follow an intake of medicines and induce puking in order to minimise the calories. It is a complex emotionally stressful condition showing behaviors such as following an extreme exercise routine, constantly weighing themselves, paranoid thinking about weight gain, limiting the consumption of meals, feeling anxious or depressed and social isolation. Low confidence, experience of tragic events, societal pressure, etc may contribute in occurrence of Anorexia Nervosa. Medication, counselling with the family and peer, mineral supplements, dietary advice, cognitive behavioral therapy can help resolve the causative factors of Anorexia Nervosa.

NIGHT EATING SYNDROME

According to this syndrome, patients awaken during the nocturnal period and consume food for a period of more than twice a week. It can affect people from all genders. Night eating episodes or excess consumption of food after having an evening meal is associated with NES. It is quite similar to binge eating, wherein a person is unable to control the urge to eat a large amount of food in a short time span. Symptoms include consumption of more calories in the evening, lack of appetite in the morning, skipping breakfast for more than four mornings a week, misinterpretation that eating in such a manner will induce a better sleep, dull mood, etc. Treatment comprises of physiological methods such as maintenance of a healthy sleep habit, consumption of a healthy diet, gaining emotional support, regularly exercising . Application of other strategies like preventing a response to cravings, self monitoring and increasing consumption of food in the daytime is proven helpful.

ORTHOREXIA NERVOSA

People suffering from this disorder have a mania to ingest only healthy and pure food. This disorder makes the desire to eat the right kind of food so intense that, if one consumes unhealthy or imperfect kind of food, they end up fasting or punishing themselves for it. People suffering from it, will often find themselves surfing through food research sites, convincing themselves that the food they have eaten up was pure, being wary of sickness, fearing to eat food served at unknown places or by unknown people over the thoughts that it might not be according to their set standards, etc. This disorder may be a product of consumption of intoxicants, traumatic childhood dietary illness, fear of a developing a disease, etc.

Along with the above mentioned eating disorders, there are numerous other related disorders. According to statistical research, about 70 million people across the globe are diagnosed with an eating disorder once in their lifetime. Among these approximately 10,200 people die annually, due to an eating disorder. It erodes personal relationships, causes psychological stress and major physical complications. Hence, we can conclude that suffering from any eating disorder disrupts day to day living and thus needs a timely diagnosis, medical intervention and treatment.

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