Eating Disorder: Types, Risk Factors, Signs, And Ways To Deal With It
Food. Whatever type it comes in, it is what we need to stay alive. To most of us, we get to have 3 meals everyday to strengthen our bodies so that we can handle everything that life throws at us. However, in the world we live in today, it could very well alter how we see food. So many people have been exposed to different types of media that to be accepted and appreciated, one has to stay thin and beautiful. That is why many people have decided to cut back on eating and instead watch what they eat in order to be socially accepted.
And in most cases, this isn’t a problem. But in some individuals, they take it to the extreme. As defined by the American Psychiatric Association, an eating disorder is fundamentally an unhealthy preoccupation with food and weight. It is responsible for numerous deaths in America, alone.
This is why eating disorders are not a laughing matter.
Many people are under the false idea that eating disorders are just temporary, that it will go away in time. This is far, far away from the truth, however. Eating disorders have been known to damage many aspects of a healthy individual’s well being.
To prevent it, you should educate yourself about eating disorders.
Eating Disorder types:
Fighting from eating disorder is like fighting a many headed monster; there are many ways that it can rear its ugly head. The most common ones, according to the American Psychological Association, are the following:
- * Bulimia nervosa: Don’t let their normal weight fool you; people with this eating disorder need to be monitored. These people have the compulsion to over – eat an unusually large amount of food. They the feel guilty and compensate with laxatives or diuretics, force vomiting, over exercising, fasting, or even a mix of all the above.
- * Anorexia nervosa: These people have a warped perception of their bodies; they feel and see that they are overweight when in fact they are oftentimes dangerously underweight. They have the obsession to constantly weigh themselves; and are also known to eat very little to none at all. They are also very picky with what they eat. This type of eating disorder is infamous since it accounts for the highest mortality rate out of all mental disorders out there.
- * Binge-eating disorder: This eating disorder is hallmarked by a constant need to binge – eat everything in front of them. Unlike the other two however, they have no compunction to remedy this habit. That is why people with this eating disorder suffer from obesity and the diseases that come with it.
These three are the most common. The following are lesser known but still should be looked out for:
- * Night – Eating Syndrome: This eating disorder earned its name since the people who have it have little to no appetite during the day, and eat ravenously at night. As a result they binge eat at night and suffer insomnia as well.
- * Rumination Disorder: One of the weirder eating disorders out there, it is characterized by a repetitive regurgitation of consumed food, next by re-chewing and re-swallowing, or spitting the food out.
- * Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED) and Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder (UFED): Sufferers of these disorders do not show symptoms that fall on the previous eating disorders; however they still suffer from emotional and psychological distress when it comes to food.
- * Pica: This eating disorder is characterized by an uncontrollable urge to chew, eat or lick inedible food items such as clay or cotton.
Are Eating Disorders More Prone to Women?
What with the culture we have today, it might be a factor that makes women more predisposed to eating disorders. It is estimated that eating disorders will happen 2.5 times more in women than in men.
This might be because today’s media always glorifies the perfect woman figure to be thin and stately. The fact that adolescent girls, who are mostly exposed to this ideal, are some of the prime sufferers of eating disorders can’t be attributed to chance alone.
The estimated percentage of adolescent girls that use methods like self-induced vomiting, crash dieting and fasting is around 35 to 57 percent. That is definitely quite an alarming statistic. Overweight teens are the most likely to use such extreme ways.
Men are Affected by Eating Disorders too
Men shouldn’t feel too comfortable knowing that they are less affected by eating disorders; in fact, males are the primary candidates of binge dieting. This eating disorder is more common in men than in women nowadays since the culture we have today sees eating disorders as only affecting women, and thus don’t worry men too much. The most alarming fact is that because of this belief, men do not seek help with their eating disorder until it is too late.
Risk Factors that Increase the Chance of Developing Eating Disorders
We all are exposed to almost the same type of propaganda the media bombards us everyday; yet we all do not develop eating disorders. The US Office of Women’s Health lists the following triggers that can cause a person to develop eating disorders:
Genes and hormones are being looked into by scientists as a possible factor for developing eating disorders since the possibility is quite concrete.
Social and Cultural Pressure
Each culture has a definition of what is beautiful and what is not; unfortunately some people take that definition to the extreme. In many territories, a slim figure equals beauty, and as such women always strive to achieve that “perfect” body type. This determination can develop into an obsession, which in turn develops into an eating disorder.
Most people with eating disorders have alot of things in common: like a low self-esteem, delusions of worthlessness and helplessness. Some personalities are also specific to a certain eating disorder; for example, bulimics tend to be impulsive while anorexics are most likely perfectionists.
Trauma/Dramatic Life Changes
Significant events in one’s life can have unpredictable effects on their well-being; for instance trauma like abuse, rape of death of a loved one can lead to the development of an eating disorder. Stressful changes can also lead to eating disorders.
Family and Peers
In some cases, people tend to value what others see of themselves quite highly; to the fact that they might develop eating disorders. Verbal abuse and teasing can also lead to changes in a person’s eating habits as well.
What to Watch out For
The American Psychiatric Association has outlined a few guidelines as to what to look out for when you suspect someone is developing an eating disorder:
- * Unhealthy eating patterns like meal skipping, constant low calorie food intake, binge eating and then fasting
- * Exercising too much
- * Obsession about calories, fat and weight
- * Obsession over his/her weight and body
- * Constant complaining of his/her body being fat
- * Self – mutilating habits like cutting his/her skin
- * Erratic behavior like irritability, touchiness and mood swings
- * Unusually hostile viewpoint about eating
What to do with someone confirmed with an eating disorder
Usually people with eating disorders will stay away from their peers. Sometimes they will put on a show about how normal they are, which makes it harder to see that there’s a problem. If observant enough, you will catch on, and early intervention will make getting rid of the problem that much easier. But even if nothing will ever replace professional interventions, there are some ways you can help those with eating disorders, like:
- * Do some research on eating disorders; lots of resources are available online or at your local library
- * Be completely open about your concern but do not suffocate them
- * If you notice that your child is heading towards developing an eating disorder, and he/she is below 18, immediately seek professional help. Follow their advice to the letter since your child is at a crucial developing point in their life physically and psychologically
- * Handle the problem firmly yet gently
- * Always raise concern with others if your friend has an eating disorder
- * Always protect yourself first; keep in mind that they alone are responsible for what the outcome may be. Always show constant concern and hope for the best.
Like many disorders out there, eating disorders are not to be taken lightly. With proper education, this overlooked yet fatal condition can be dealt with properly.