With the correct guidance and professional help, eating disorders can be controlled and treated.
Mental health disorders take a variety of shapes and forms, all of which can be dangerous to the patients’ health and are potentially fatal.
Eating disorders are at the top of the list in this regard, as they are believed to be the leading cause of deaths and the onset of physical illness caused by mental disorders worldwide.
This is due to the negative effects that they have on the patient’s physical health.
Studies have determined that approximately 4% of the Australian population suffer from some form of eating disorder.
This means that over 900 thousand people, in Australia alone, are suffering from one of these disorders at any given time.
Undoubtedly one of the most well know eating disorders, Anorexia Nervosa is the illness that the general public most associates with eating disorders.
People who suffer from Anorexia often tend to view themselves as overweight or obese, while in reality, they are underweight, often times a person suffering from anorexia is dangerously underweight.
Anorexia Nervosa is commonly known to begin in early adolescence and can continue to be a lifelong struggle if not treated.
Some of the common symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa are:
- Being underweight when compared to people of similar age and height.
- Obsessive behaviour regarding food, diet and exercise.
- A constant need to count calories and monitor food intake.
- Shying away from any social activity that involves food.
- Denial of the fact that they are dangerously underweight.
Patients who suffer from Anorexia Nervosa don’t necessarily only starve themselves.
They are also known to binge eat large amounts of food, only to purge shortly afterwards using laxatives, exercising excessively or vomiting.
Another well-known eating disorder, Bulimia can be loosely compared to some cases of Anorexia.
People who suffer from Bulimia, unlike Anorexia, often maintain normal body weight and tend to be less obsessive over calorie counting and body image.
Bulimia patients tend to often binge eat large amounts of food to the point where it causes discomfort and stomach pain.
In an effort to not gain any weight from the amount of food that they consume, they continue to purge using laxatives, excessive exercise and vomiting, much like some Anorexia patients.
Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder causes patients to binge eat large amounts of food often, and in short periods of time.
Unlike the previous two disorders, patients don’t resort to purging, but rather turn to shame and guilt which causes them to binge more and more often.
Binge eating disorder patients are often overweight and obese.
Common symptoms of binge eating disorder are:
- Consuming large amounts of food, often in private, regardless of whether they are hungry or not.
- Not caring for, or completely disregarding calorie counting and monitoring their caloric intake.
- Having feelings of guilt, disgust and helplessness during and after episodes of binge eating.
People who suffer from this disorder are often prone to serious physical health issues due to the large amounts of (often unhealthy) foods that they consume.
Other Eating Disorders
Pica is a disorder in which the patients crave non-food matter such as dirt, foam, rocks, ice, paper, hair, etc.
People who suffer from this disorder often use purging to control their weight rather than dieting or calorie counting.
They are not known to binge or starve themselves.
Rumination disorder patients are known as regurgitating food and continue to re-eat it.
Eating disorders are often seen as a voluntary lifestyle, a choice or a lack of self-control and are frowned upon by many people.
The fact is that these disorders, like any other physical health illness, are not lifestyle choices or phases that cannot be stopped at will, they are involuntary habits that need both treatment and support in order to cure and prevent.