What is an Eating Disorder?


An eating disorder is when a person experiences disturbances in his eating pattern such as extreme reduction of food intake or, the other way around (extreme overeating).  Often times, changes in eating behavior include feelings of extreme dislike in one’s weight.

Though it may be true that everyone gets their occasional binge and diet every now and then, but this becomes an eating disorder when this change goes into an eating habit that is out of control. Eating disorders are very difficult to understand but getting a good grasp on what it really is can save a life.

What is an Eating Disorder

There are two main types of eating disorders – ANOREXIA NERVOSA and BULIMIA NERVOSA. There’s a third category that includes a variety of eating disorders that are referred to as ‘eating disorders not otherwise specified’ (EDNOS).

The onset of eating disorders is usually during adolescence or young adulthood. Past researches have proven that eating disorders more likely occur on women than on men. Men account for up to 15% of people who suffer from bulimia or anorexia. More often than not, eating disorders usually occur alongside with other psychiatric disorders. In worst-case scenarios, eating disorders could result to substance abuse, depression, heart and kidney failure or even death.

Treating Eating Disorders

There are many psychological and medicinal treatments being offered for eating disorders. Treatment given will depend on the patient. The doctor will need to assess the severity of the eating disorder before giving a possible solution.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by a relentless pursuit of being thin. People who are diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa have a distorted body image. They feel like they’re fat even if they’re not. They have a fear of gaining weight that results to excessive exercise and no eating. Sometimes, they induce their vomiting, overuse laxatives and go through extreme methods just they can become thinner.

The mental illness includes an obsession with losing weight. It makes them turn into fitness freaks that can’t get enough of exercising and dieting. They constantly weigh themselves and in time, get health problems.

To get in detail, people with anorexia nervosa experience the following physical symptoms:

  • Osteoporosis or thinning of the bones
  • Nails and hair that easily break
  • Dry and yellowish skin
  • Unusual hair growth all over the body
  • Anemia
  • Overall muscle weakness
  • Constipation
  • Low blood pressure and slow pulse
  • Feeling cold all the time
  • Lethargic

There are many ways to treat anorexia. But the goals of treatment all include the following things – restoring the patient to his or her normal weight, treating the psychological issues related to anorexia and eliminating the feelings that make a person believe he is overweight.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder where a person eats excessive amounts of foods during an episode. This is more commonly known as binge eating. When a person starts to feel guilty and brushes off the binge eating episode, he results to induced vomiting or the use of laxatives.

Though people with Bulimia fall under the normal range for weight, they are still a bit similar to people with Anorexia because they have a distorted image of themselves. They fear to gain weight.

Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa include:

  • Problems with their throat from induced vomiting
  • Swollen glands in the neck or below the jaw
  • Decaying teeth because of stomach acids
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disorder
  • Kidney problems
  • Dehydration

The treatment for Bulimia Nervosa includes different approaches including trying to eliminate binge eating, cognitive behavioral therapy, antidepressants and the like.