Eating disorders are regarded as a progressive disease. This means that they cannot be cured in the traditional sense but they can be treated. By managing destructive behaviours someone who has an eating disorder can learn how to live a healthier lifestyle with their more positive attitude to food.
Eating disorders happen for a variety of reasons and are indiscriminate in choosing their victims, both men and women of any age is can suffer from an eating disorder. Eating disorders often start in adolescence or early adulthood. They are usually triggered by traumatic events of low self-esteem often caused by neglect or abuse.
The three main types of eating disorders are
Bulimia is an eating disorder which is characterised by a cycle of bingeing and purging. Someone suffering from bulimia may eat large quantities of food in one sitting and then purge themselves either by inducing vomiting and/or use of laxatives. By purging the food that they have consumed, they try and negate the effects that the calorie intake will have on their body. Bingeing and purging can cause a plethora of short and long term health effects which can be very damaging.
Anorexia nervosa is a potentially fatal condition. Primarily a mental health disorder, someone suffering from anorexia will strive to severely limit their calorie intake by consuming as little food as possible. Characterised by an unrealistic body image and the need for control, anorexics are extreme in their dedication to trying to lose weight. Even when someone suffering from anorexia is down to nothing but skin unborn, they will see themselves as fat and be determined to lose even more weight. Anorexia has their highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
Binge eating disorder
Binge eating disorder shares some of the characteristics of bulimia-but without the purging. Without this element of the eating disorder binge eating can cause weight gain and obesity. Binge eating is a vicious cycle, where food may be turned to for solace, and large amounts of food will be eating in one sitting. Feelings of guilt and shame will take over from the “high” gained from our bingeing session and as the binge eater sinks further into depression they will turn to food again and again to make themselves feel better.
Treating Eating Disorders
There are many other variations of eating disorders and many sufferers may not strictly fulfil the criteria for just one and may display of range of compulsive eating behaviours. Treatment for eating disorders is based on a psychological approach as without identifying and resolving the root cause of their disorder any attempts at rehabilitation are likely to be unsuccessful. There are also self-help groups which will teach the sufferer of an eating disorder on how to manage their behaviour and can help avoid relapsing back into destructive patterns of eating. Medical supervision is recommended when treating an eating disorder in order to help minimise the devastating effects it has on the body.