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Eating disorders are something beyond food. It’s a mental illness that requires medical intervention for its cure. If left untreated, it may lead to serious health hazards. Though an individual of any age and gender is likely to get affected, eating disorders are prevalent in adolescents and young women. Eating disorders often start with a mild symptom like obsession with food or body shape. But as it gets severe, it paves the way to significant symptoms like over-exercising, food binging, vomiting, etc.
Causes of developing the symptoms of eating disorders may vary from person to person. Studies and researches point to genetics as the significant factor. Other than this, having personality traits like perfectionism or neuroticism can be another reason. Additionally, the common societal perception of being thin as the ideal body image incites pressure within the individual to follow unhealthy ways to satisfy the cultural preferences.
Types of Eating Disorders
Following listed are the main types of eating disorders:
1. Binge eating disorder
Binge eating is the most common type of eating disorder and is seen chiefly in youth and adolescents. This type of eating disorder is marked by the tendency to eat a lot in a short period. Patients diagnosed with binge eating disorder often suffer from obesity as well. It adds to other health issues like stroke, heart disease, etc. Other symptoms include the lack of control during the episodes of binge eating, feeling guilty or shame upon reminding them about their eating behavior, lack of behavioral aspects like over-exercising or concerns about calorie restriction, etc.
2. Rumination disorder
The voluntary act of regurgitating food characterizes rumination disorder; the person has previously chewed and swallowed. It happens about 30 minutes after a meal. Once they regurgitate the food, they re-chew it and then either swallow it or spit it out. One may encounter this condition at any stage of their life. In infants, it usually occurs when they are aged between 3 months and one year. On a usual note, in infants, this illness should disappear after a while. If not, medication is required to resolve it, for leaving it untreated may result in malnutrition and weight loss.
Pica is an eating disorder in which the person tends to eat substances that are not considered food, like ice, chalk, soap, dirt, paper, etc. This practice is usually found among children and pregnant women who are mentally disabled. Apart from them, others may also get affected by this eating disorder in childhood, adolescence, or even youth. These patients also suffer from gut injuries and nutrition deficiencies due to this health issue.
4. Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia Nervosa is a prevalent eating disorder commonly found among adolescents and youth. This mental illness is found predominantly in women when compared to men. Anorexia Nervosa is a mental disorder that affects the eating pattern and other associated behaviors in the patient. Three types of anorexia nervosa include restricting type, purging type, and binge eating type. Symptoms may vary according to the type. If an individual is overly concerned about food, and if they cut down on food in an unhealthy way, being concerned about gaining weight, they are said to have this eating disorder. Fear of gaining weight despite being underweight, possessing purging behaviors like over-exercising & vomiting, having low self-esteem regarding the body image, restricted eating patterns, etc., are common symptoms of anorexia nervosa.
5. Bulimia Nervosa
An eating disorder that’s more prevalent among women than in men. Unusual episodes of binge eating characterize it. Having stuffed a large amount of food in a short period, they start to possess purging behaviors like forced vomiting, diuretics, over-exercising, etc. It is done to alleviate the gut discomfort caused due to binge eating. Another reason they do this is to make up for the calories they have gained through excess eating. Unlike other eating disorders, people with bulimia nervosa have average weight. They are neither obese nor underweight.
The above-listed eating disorders will give you a better insight into the graveness of this mental illness and the need to fix it. Delaying in consulting a doctor to confront your symptoms will only harm your body. If you identify yourself as a victim of any such eating disorder, seek medical advice at the earliest, despite giving it a second thought.