Eating disorders are a growing problem in today’s society as every person wants to “fit in”. This is caused by the society norms that go on with television showing us what’s the perfect weight, looks, body and height for being accepted. Due to many environmental factors people go to extremes and this leads to many disorders like anorexia, bulimia are among the types of eating disorders. These disorders cause harmful effects on the brain’s development and functioning. Women are 20 times more likely to suffer from the eating disorder, Anorexia nervosa and 10 times more from Bulimia nervosa. Let’s see what is anorexia and bulimia and what can it do to a person that is affected by it.
3 Types of Eating Disorders
What is Anorexia?
Anorexia nervosa is a medical term for the common eating disorder, anorexia which is among the many types of eating disorders. In this medical condition, people are in constant fear of gaining weight and feel that they are overweight. This is caused due to a wide range of environmental factors. But first let’s check the signs and symptoms of Anorexia nervosa.
Signs in Anorexia
- The person looks extremely thin or underweight.
- Extreme fear of gaining weight.
- Constant attempts to avoid eating.
- An extremely low self-esteem and in constant denial of being underweight.
Symptoms of Anorexia
- Bone and muscle wasting or weakness.
- Person’s skin starts appearing yellowish.
- Severe constipation occurs.
- Constantly fatigued and suffering from osteoporosis.
If you witness a person with these symptoms or have these symptoms, this should be a wake-up call to get a professional’s help as soon as possible.
Causes of Anorexia
- Anorexia has been thought by researchers to be caused due to genetic factor or also seen more in girls that have been born premature or suffered trauma during birth.
- Studies done in University of Minnesota have shown evidence that people who undergo semi-starvation over a period of time show symptoms of anorexia.
- Psychologists believe that women living in urbanized areas have been influenced by society about beauty of slimness and thus are more likely to suffer from these eating disorders.
- Scientists also believe that dieting could be one of the major causes of the onset of Anorexia nervosa.
- Researchers also believe that this eating disorder is due an underlying mental disorder or trauma and is usually found in people who have suffered from mental, physical or sexual abuse in the past.
- The improper functioning of hypothalamus-pitutary-adrenal (HPA) axis may also induce this particular eating disorder.
This is a serious disorder and should not be taken lightly. Patients suffering severely from this usually end up committing suicide by starving to death.
Anorexia Effects On Mental Health
Anorexia symptoms should not be taken lightly as they may lead to the death of the person. It can cause many complications in the patient’s body. Bradycardia is a complication caused this eating disorder. It is the slowing of the heart to only 60 heart beats per seconds. This makes the heart unable to pump blood at its normal speed. Thus, due to low blood pressure the organs do not receive oxygen in normal amounts and ultimately can lead to starvation of the brain for oxygen. Due to this the person may faint, have heart attacks and heart failures which leads to sudden death. Brain damage might also occur due to the inability of the heart to provide oxygen. The other effects these types of eating disorders cause are infertility drop in body temperature causing the person to feel cold and multi-organ failure.
What is Bulimia?
Bulimia is a disorder is the lack of ability of a person to control one’s eating and eats an abnormally high amount of food; after which they purge. The people suffering from Bulimia nervosa have a normal body weight and do not look underweight like people suffering from Anorexia.
Signs in Bulimia
- The person exercises excessively in fear of gaining weight.
- Whatever food has been ingested, the person tries to forcefully remove it by vomiting or using laxatives excessively.
- The person starts fasting or starving oneself after eating a huge amount of food.
- The person tends to overeat frequently or has recurrent urges of eating.
Symptoms of Bulimia
- The person vomits the food forcefully just after ingesting it.
- Suffers from sore throat and has decaying teeth due to stomach acid.
- Has gastrointestinal problems and uses laxatives in huge amounts.
- Constantly suffers from acid reflux.
- Undergoes severe dehydration due to the lack of fluids.
Causes of Bulimia
These types of eating disorders are very prominent in society however is a well-kept secret in the fashion, television and industrial world. But now-a-days, it’s coming into light because of the increase in amount of people suffering from this terrible disorder.
- Scientists believe it to be caused due to mental issues like personality disorders.
- It is seen more in people having had premature births or difficulty during birth.
- Genetics may also play a role in this disorder.
- Age and gender is also a risk factor in Bulimia nervosa.
- It is also induced by family and social pressures of being thin as beautiful.
- Race can also play a role because Caucasian families pressurize young females into being slim.
Bulimia Effects On Mental Health
Bulimia nervosa is associated with Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) that causes an anxiety or fear of bacteria, gaining weight and much more. This can also cause or associate with phobias and panic disorders. Severe dehydration and starving can lead to brain damage. It can also cause low blood pressure and thus the brain gets deprived of oxygen. It can also lead to other disorders like body image disorders or muscle dysmorphia.
What is a Binge Eating Disorder?
A Binge eating disorder usually is when a person lacks control over their eating and eats immense large amounts of food. However it is different than Anorexia and Bulimia as in this case they do not under eat but tend to overeat.
Signs in Binge Eating Disorder
- The person tends to increase their weight very fast.
- They become overweight or obese.
- They eat frequently and tend to binge eat.
Symptoms of Binge Eating
- Feeling constant anxiety and distress about eating.
- Dieting constantly without succeeding in losing weight.
- Eating uncontrollably even while feeling full.
Binge Effects on Mental Health
In this case, excessive eating can lead to food addiction. This causes an effect of addiction on the brain the same way as cocaine and heroin. This is because; the brain pathway for food addiction is the same as that for drugs like cocaine and heroin. Thus binge eating must be brought to a professional’s notice at once for binge eating disorder treatment.
Diagnosing Anorexia, Bulimia & Binge Eating Disorder
An eating disorder test should be carried out to check what complications might be caused by this. First of all a complete blood count should be done to check the RBC and WBC cell amounts in the blood. Electrolytes are immensely depleted due to severe dehydration and thus tests should be done to check the imbalance. Tests for liver, kidney, heart and thyroid should also be conducted. Also, bone density test should also be done to see whether the bones have become weak. These types of eating disorders can cause serious health issues and thus a number of tests should be done.
Bulimia unlike Anorexia is easier to treat. Doctors first attempt to treat the psychiatric disorders that are associated with these types of eating disorders. People suffering from these disorders go through a lot of counseling on nutrition, family- based counseling and given drugs like antidepressants. A majority of the patients have shown to be treated within a 10 year treatment span. People that are severely affected by Anorexia are hospitalized and given medication and nutrition until the patient reaches an ideal weight. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, nutritional therapy as well as drug therapy is done for treating Bulimia. Also, the binge eating disorder treatment is done in a similar manner. In this way, the types of eating disorders can be treated and it should be taken care that these disorders must be treated fast before it could prove fatal.