Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are a group of serious conditions in which a person is so preoccupied with food and weight they often can’t focus on anything else. The main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorders.

Eating disorders can cause serious physical problems and, at their most severe, can even be life-threatening. These disorders commonly affect women, however men are not immune from these conditions either.

Treatments for eating disorders usually involve cognitive guidance, nutrition, and fitness training.

Symptoms

Eating disorder symptoms vary with the types of eating disorders.

Anorexia nervosa

When an individual has anorexia nervosa (an-o-REK-see-uh nur-VOH-suh), they are obsessed with food and being thin, sometimes to the point of deadly self-starvation.

Anorexia signs and symptoms may include:

  • Refusal to eat and denial of hunger
  • Soft, downy hair present on the body (lanugo)
  • An intense fear of gaining weight
  • Menstrual irregularities or loss of menstruation (amenorrhea)
  • A negative or distorted self-image
  • Constipation
  • Excessive exercise
  • Abdominal pain
  • Flat mood or lack of emotion
  • Dry skin
  • Irritability
  • Frequently being cold
  • Fear of eating in public
  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Preoccupation with food
  • Social withdrawal
  • Low blood pressure
  • Thin appearance
  • Dehydration
  • Trouble sleeping

Bulimia nervosa

With bulimia, individuals have episodes of bingeing and purging. During these episodes, one would typically eat a large amount of food in a short duration and then try to get rid of the extra calories through vomiting or excessive exercise. Patients may be at any weight.

Bulimia signs and symptoms may include:

  • Eating until the point of discomfort or pain, often with high-fat or sweet foods
  • Abnormal bowel functioning
  • Self-induced vomiting
  • Damaged teeth and gums
  • Use of laxatives
  • Swollen salivary glands in the cheeks
  • Excessive exercise
  • Sores in the throat and mouth
  • An unhealthy focus on body shape and weight
  • Dehydration
  • A distorted, excessively negative body image
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Low self-esteem
  • Sores, scars or calluses on the knuckles or hands
  • Going to the bathroom after eating or during meals
  • Menstrual irregularities or loss of menstruation (amenorrhea)
  • Constant dieting or fasting
  • Possibly, drug or alcohol abuse

Binge-eating disorder

When you have a binge-eating disorder, you regularly eat excessive amounts of food (binge), but don't try to compensate for this behavior with exercise or purging as someone with bulimia or anorexia might. You may eat when you're not hungry and continue eating even long after you're uncomfortably full. After a binge, you may feel guilty or ashamed, which can trigger a new round of bingeing. You may be a normal weight, overweight or obese.

Symptoms of binge-eating disorder may include:

  • Eating to the point of discomfort or pain
  • Eating much more food during a binge episode than during a normal meal or snack
  • Eating faster during binge episodes
  • Feeling that your eating behavior is out of control
  • Frequently eating alone
  • Feeling depressed, disgusted or upset over the amount eaten

Because of its powerful pull, an eating disorder can be difficult to manage or overcome independently. Eating disorders can virtually take over your life. You may think about food all the time, spend hours agonizing over what to eat and exercise to exhaustion. You may feel ashamed, sad, hopeless, drained, irritable and anxious. You may also have a host of physical problems because of your eating disorder such as irregular heartbeats, fatigue, and bowel or menstrual troubles.

If you're experiencing any of these problems,
or if you think you may have an eating disorder,
contact us today.