Eating DisordersAbout Eating disorders: Types, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Frequently Asked Questions
Eating disorders are complicated mental health illnesses defined by disordered eating patterns and erroneous beliefs about food, weight, and body image. It should not be misunderstood as a lifestyle choice.
Each type of eating problem has a unique set of symptoms. However, common symptoms of eating disorders may include:
- Social isolation
- Body image distortion
- Weight fluctuations
- Excessive exercise
- Anger issues
- Mood swings
Eating disorders can have a variety of multifactorial causes, including elements from society, the environment, psychology, and genetics. Typical risk factors include:
- Genetic predisposition – The risk may be raised by familial histories of an eating disorder or psychological disorders.
- Psychological factors – The emergence of an eating disorder may be influenced by low self-worth, a need for perfection body unhappiness, high levels of stress, anxiety, or depression.
- Cultural and societal pressures – Societal emphasis on thinness, media influence, and societal norms related to beauty and body image can contribute to the development of eating disorders.
- Traumatic experiences – People who have gone through abuse, trauma, or major life stresses may be more prone to developing disorders of eating.
Without appropriate treatment, eating disorders can result in severe physical and psychological complications. These may include:
- Cardiac problems – low heart rate, low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, heart failure, etc.
- Nutritional deficiency – may include niacin, thiamine, vitamin B6, B12, vitamin K, C, E, D, and folate.
- Malnutrition and electrolyte imbalances – as a result of frequent vomiting.
- Growth problems – slow growth, delayed puberty, menstrual disturbances in females.
- Cognitive problems – loss of memory, and focus.
- Poor dental health – erosion of teeth from the acid reflux, or frequent vomiting.
- Gastrointestinal disturbances – dehydration, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, nausea.
- Addiction – to substance, smoking or alcohol.
Preventing eating disorders involve addressing risk factors and promoting healthy attitudes towards body image and eating. Some preventive measures include:
- Education and awareness – Promoting knowledge about eating disorders, their risk factors, and the importance of a healthy body image can help reduce stigma and encourage early intervention.
- Body positivity – Encouraging acceptance of diverse body shapes and sizes can help combat unrealistic beauty standards and promote a healthy body image.
- Promoting healthy relationships with food – Fostering a positive food environment, promoting balanced nutrition, and discouraging dieting or extreme weight control measures can contribute to healthy eating behaviors.