An eating disorder is when you have problems with eating. Thoughts of food and weight and worrying about your body shape take over. Some people have a great decrease in the amount of food they eat.
Others eat too much. Some people make themselves throw up or use drugs to help food pass through their body quickly. All of these can result in poor nutrition and other serious health problems. These types of disorders include eating:
Very little because you think you are fat eve n when you are a normal weight. This may make you lose too much weight. This is called anorexia.
Too much in a short time without being able to stop when you are full. This is a binge eating disorder .
Too much food all at the same time. Then, you feel the urge to get rid of the food you have eaten. You may make yourself throw up or take drugs to help the food pass quickly into your stools. This is called bulimia nervosa and it is a very serious problem.
Too little followed by overeating. You may have all or some of the signs of anorexia, bulimia, or binge disorder involve d. This is called an eating disorder not otherwise specified or EDNOS.
What Are The Various Types Of Eating Disorders?
Binge Eating Disorder
Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder
Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder
Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Eating Disorders?
An eating disorder may be a result of emotional or me ntal health problems. Food intake is used to cope with your feelings. Stress, worry, low mood, sadn ess, or anger can make you eat too much or eat too little. Dieting, body image, and low self-esteem are also some of the concerns.
Other causes may include:
Chemical imbalances in the brain
You may need to change your worko ut routine. Some people work out too much and others not enough.
Spend time with friends and family.
Do not use food to deal with your feelings.
What Causes Eating Disorders Such As Anorexia?
Eating disorders include a range of conditions that involve an obsession with food, weight and appearance. The obsession is often so strong that it disrupts an individual’s health, social and familial relationships, occupations and daily activities. It is estimated that over 10 million people in the United States suffer from eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder, and the statistics are growing.
Research on the causes of eating disorders is constantly evolving, and we continue to gain increased insight into risk factors that may contribute to the illness. However, the answers remain multi-factorial, and they reflect a complex combination of biopsychosocial factors that may intersect differently for each person.
Several major risk factors for eating disorders are outlined below.
Genetics: Increasing numbers of family, twin, and adoption research studies have provided compelling evidence to show that genetic factors contribute to a predisposition for eating disorders.1 In other words, individuals who are born with certain genotypes are at heightened risk for the development of an eating disorder.
Temperament: Some of the genes that have been identified to contribute to eating disorders are associated with specific personality traits. These aspects of personality are thought to be highly heritable and often exist before the eating disorder and can persist after recovery.
sensitivity to reward and punishment, harm avoidance
neuroticism (emotional instability and hypersensitivity)
impulsivity, especially in bulimia nervosa
rigidity and excessive persistence, especially in anorexia nervosa
Biology: Even in healthy individuals without eating disorders, states of semi-starvation have been shown to trigger obsessive behavior around food, depression, anxiety and neuroticism that promote a continued cycle of starvation.
Trauma: Traumatic events such as physical or sexual abuse sometimes precipitate the development of an eating disorder.12-14 Survivors of trauma often struggle with shame, guilt, body dissatisfaction and a feeling of a lack of control.
Coping Skill Deficits: Individuals with eating disorders are often lacking the skills to tolerate negative experiences. Behaviors such as restricting, purging, binging and excessive exercise often develop in response to emotional pain, conflict, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, stress or trauma.
Sociocultural Ideals: Our media’s increased obsession with the thin-ideal and industry promotion of a “perfect” body may contribute to unrealistic body ideals in people with and without eating disorders.15,16 An increase in access to global media and technological advances such as Photoshop and airbrushing have further skewed our perception of attainable beauty standards.
Dieting: Dieting is the most common precipitating factor in the development of an eating disorder. In the U.S., more than $60 billion is spent every year on diets and weight-loss products. Despite dieting 95-98% failure rate, people continue to buy dangerous products and take extreme measures to lose weight.
Family: Unfortunately, in the past, parents were often blamed as the cause of their child’s eating disorder. As more research is done on the diverse contributing factors discussed above, it becomes more and more clear that this is not the case. While stressful or chaotic family situations may intersect with other triggers to exacerbate or maintain the illness, they do not cause eating disorders. It's also important to note that some family dynamics, which were once assumed to be precursors to an eating disorder, may actually develop as a response to a family member’s struggle with an eating disorder.
Your doctor will tell you about the drugs you may need to take.
Your doctor will help you make a healthy eating plan. Be sure to follow the doctor's advice.
Your doctor may order talk therapy for you. This can help you learn to deal with your feelings in a healthy way.
Let family and friends know of your illness and how to help.
You may need to be in the hospital to deal with problems from your eating disorder.
Reproductive health problems
Too much fluid loss
Eat the right amount of healthy foods.
Have a positive outlook in life.
Learn to respect yourself.
Be yourself. Do not compare yourself to others.
Talk to your family or friends when you have personal problems. You can also talk to an adult or someone you can trust such as your teacher, family member, or family friend.
Practice healthy ways to cope with stress. Try listening to music, play a sport, or get involved in a group activity.
This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your healthcare provider. This is only a brief summary of general information. It does NOT include all information about conditions, illnesses, injuries, tests, procedures, treatments, therapies, discharge instructions or lifestyle choices that may apply to you. You must talk with your health care provider for complete information about your health and treatment options. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to accept your health care provider’s advice, instructions or recommendations. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to provide advice that is right for you.
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You must talk with your health care provider for complete information about your health and treatment options. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to accept your health care provider’s advice, instructions or recommendations. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to provide advice that is right for you.
All topics are updated as new evidence becomes available and our peer review process is complete.
This content is intended for informational purposes only. It should not replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you think you have a medical emergency, call 911 or your doctor immediately.