Eating disorders are severe, life-threatening mental illnesses that can be treated. They have grievous physical consequences and symptoms, and they affect people of all ages, sizes, sexes, genders, religions, classes, and ethnicities. According to NEDA, it’s estimated that over 30 million people in the United States alone will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lives. There are many kinds of eating disorders, and it’s important to become educated about them if you are living with one, if you are at risk for an eating disorder, or if you know someone that has an eating disorder. You may be experiencing symptoms of more than one eating disorder. Read about some of the different types of eating disorders and gain information on what you may be struggling with so you can get the help you need.
Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder involves periods of excessive overeating. It often occurs with a mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety.
For a person with a binge eating disorder, eating and the cycle of guilt and binge eating can be a way of dealing with emotional problems. It is a symptom of an underlying condition.
Treatment can help the person find a new way to approach these issues as well as ways of controlling their eating.
Anorexia nervosa often appears during a person’s teenage years or early adulthood, but it can sometimes begin in the preteen years or later in life.
A person with anorexia nervosa will intentionally restrict their food intake as a way to help them manage emotional challenges. These often involve a fear of gaining weight or a desire to lose weight. The emotional and psychological challenges of anorexia nervosa can be hard for a person to overcome.
Therapy includes counseling, nutritional advice, and medical care. Some people may need treatment in the hospital.
Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by a cycle of binging and purging. A person with bulimia compulsively eats, often without enjoying or even tasting the food, and purges through vomiting, exercise, laxative abuse, denying oneself of insulin, and so on. With both anorexia and bulimia, you might see physical symptoms such as brittle nails and thinning hair. Mental health symptoms can include mood swings, secretive behavior, becoming socially withdrawn or isolated.
There are other existing forms of eating disorders, and all of them are serious. It is possible to recover from an eating disorder with a stable support system and a treatment plan. The sooner they are diagnosed and treated, the better the outcomes are likely to be. Eating disorders require a comprehensive, long-term treatment plan that usually involves individual or family therapy, and that may include medication and even immediate hospitalization. Unfortunately, many people with eating disorders will not admit they are ill and refuse treatment. Support from family and friends is vital to successful treatment and recovery.