Eating disorders are a group of psychological conditions that lead to the development of unhealthy eating habits. It begins with an obsession with food, body weight, or body shape.

These disorders can affect people of any gender at any stage of life, they are most often reported in adolescents and young women. In fact, up to 13% of young adults may have at least one eating disorder by age 20.

What Causes Eating Disorders?

Experts believe that eating disorders may be caused by a variety of factors. One of these factors is genetics. 

Personality traits are another reason. In particular, neuroticism, perfectionism, and impulsivity are three personality traits often associated with an increased risk of developing an eating disorder. Other possible causes include perceived pressures to be thin, cultural preferences for being thin, and exposure to media that promote such ideals. 

Common Types Of Eating Disorders

1. Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is probably the most well-known eating disorder, it generally develops during adolescence or adulthood and tends to affect women more than men. People with anorexia nervosa limit their food intake or compensate through various purging behaviors. 

People with anorexia generally consider themselves overweight, even if they are dangerously underweight. They tend to constantly monitor their weight, avoid eating certain types of foods, and severely cut calories.

Common symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa:

  • Significantly less weight compared to people of the same age and height.
  • Extremely restricted eating patterns.
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • A significant influence of body weight or perceived body shape on self-esteem.
  • Distorted body image

2. Bulimia Nervosa

People with bulimia nervosa eat large amounts of food in short periods of time and then give up food for fear of gaining weight despite being of normal weight. Like anorexia, bulimia tends to develop during adolescence and early adulthood and appears to be less common in men than in women. People with bulimia often eat unusually large amounts of food in a specific period of time. Each binge eating episode usually lasts until the person is painfully full. Bingeing episodes can occur with any type of food, but they most commonly occur with foods that an individual would normally avoid. 

Common symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa:

  • Frequent episodes of binge eating with a feeling of out of control.
  • Repeated bouts of inappropriate purging behaviors to prevent weight gain.
  • Fear of gaining weight despite the normal weight.
  • In severe cases, bulimia can also lead to an imbalance in the levels of electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, and calcium, which can cause a stroke or heart attack.

3. Binge Eating Disorder 

Binge eating disorder is believed to be one of the most common eating disorders. People with binge eating disorder regularly and uncontrollably consume large amounts of food in short periods of time. Unlike people with other eating disorders, they don’t eliminate excess food, calories, or weight in any way. It usually begins during adolescence and early adulthood, although it can develop later. 

Common symptoms of binge Eating Disorder:

  • Eating large amounts of food despite not feeling hungry.
  • Losing control during binge-eating episodes.
  • Feelings of distress when thinking about binge eating behavior.
  • Not using purging behaviors, such as calorie restriction, vomiting, excessive exercise, or using a laxative and diuretic to compensate for the craving.

People with binge eating disorders are often overweight or obese. This may increase their risk of medical complications associated with being overweight, such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

4. Pica Disorder

It is another eating disorder that involves eating things that are not considered edible. People with pica tend to have cravings for non-food items. This disorder may particularly affect children, pregnant women, and individuals with mental disabilities. People with pica crave non-food items such as snow, dirt, soil, chalk, soap, paper, hair, cloth, wool, gravel, laundry detergent, or cornstarch. Pica can occur in adults as well as children and teens. 

When To Consult a Doctor?

If you suspect that you suffer from one of the above-mentioned disorders, we advise you to consult a psychiatrist to assess your condition, or a nutritionist to advise you on a balanced diet.

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