What is an eating disorder? Causes and Symptoms

What is an eating disorder? Causes and Symptoms

Eating disorders (EDs) are serious mental illnesses that can have serious consequences for a person's health and well-being. EDs are often associated with unhealthy attitudes towards food, body, and weight.

Anyone can have an eating disorder. But most often EBs occurs in women, especially girls 13-18 years old, athletes, ballerinas.

The exact causes of EDs are not fully understood, but they are thought to be due to a combination of factors, including:

  • Chronic dieting despite an unhealthy weight

  • Frequent weight fluctuations

  • Preoccupation with counting calories and fat in food

  • Use of ritualized eating patterns, such as cutting food into small pieces, eating alone

  • Obsession with food, recipes, or cooking. A person may cook elaborate meals for others but refuse to eat with them

  • Depression or apathy

  • Avoidance of social situations with family and friends

  • Alternation between periods of binge eating and fasting

Most Common Types of Eating Disorders

  • Anorexia nervosa is a psychopathological fear of obesity and flabby figure that becomes an obsessive idea. Weight becomes below the physiological norm, and concomitant diseases appear: hormonal, metabolic, and functional disorders of organs.

  • Bulimia nervosa is a disorder characterized by compulsive overeating and severe anxiety associated with weight control. Patients develop their own eating and bingeing style: when vomiting occurs after eating or when laxatives and diuretics are used. Bulimia often occurs in patients after anorexia has gone into remission.

  • Binge eating disorder is a disorder that manifests itself in overeating. People eat large amounts of food without feeling hungry, during severe stress or simply for a short time. Episodes are accompanied by feelings of guilt, loneliness, shame, and self-loathing.

It is difficult to name the exact causes of eating disorders, but most often it is psychological trauma or a genetic predisposition. Disappointment can also be caused by peer pressure.

Personalized treatment is used to address many of the issues that men and women face in restoring their health and well-being. 

Typically, eating disorder treatment is supervised by one or more specialists (psychologist, neurologist, etc.):

  • Medical care: The biggest challenge in treating eating disorders is addressing the health problems that can be caused by an eating disorder;

  • Nutrition: To restore and stabilize a healthy weight, normalize eating habits, and develop an individualized meal plan;

  • Psychotherapy: Various forms of psychotherapy (individual, family, or group) can help in treating the underlying causes of eating disorders. It can help the patient cope with traumatic life events and learn to express their emotions correctly, communicate, and maintain healthy relationships with others;

  • Medication: Some medications can be very effective in treating symptoms of depression or anxiety that can occur with eating disorders.

Eating disorders are a mental disorder that may not immediately affect the physical body. You just need to be more attentive to your loved ones and yourself. In the early stages, therapy with a psychologist helps, if everything is launched - a psychotherapist. It is very important not to leave the sick without supervision.