Eating Disorders

This disorder can happen in every person regardless of age, sex, body weight, shape, and size. Moreover, depending on the type of eating disorder, people may experience some physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. Fortunately, different treatment options are available for this disorder. They usually include a combination of cognitive therapy and medications.

What is an Eating Disorder?

A serious mental health problem that usually negatively affects an individual’s emotional and physical health is called an eating disorder. Those who suffer from this condition have an unhealthy relationship with appearance, weight, and food. For example, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and anorexia belong to the eating disorders. However, this is a treatable condition and if you leave it untreated, some life-threatening issues may happen.

Additionally, about 20 million girls and women and 10 million boys and men suffer from this disorder in the U.S. The main causes of eating disorders are different including genetics, brain biology, existing mental conditions, and others.

Types of Eating Disorder

Unfortunately, one person can experience two eating disorders at the same time. However, there are different types of eating disorders. Examples include:

  • Binge Eating Disorder (BED) – Usually, people with this disorder, eat large amounts of food in a short time, which makes them face shame, regret, guilt, or depression. However, they do not burn calories with exercise or other methods.
  • Bulimia Nervosa – An eating disorder in which a person consumes large amounts of food in a short time but thereafter, forces themselves to burn calories using different methods. For example, vomiting, using laxatives, and exercising excessively to get rid of calories and food.
  • Anorexia Nervosa – This disorder can occur at any body size and it is characterized by a high desire to lose weight. Therefore, an individual refuses to eat healthy amounts of food needed for your activity level and body.

In case you think you have any of these eating disorders, it is advised to see a doctor right away.

Risk Factors

Many people think that girls and women are more susceptible to developing eating disorders. However, it is not true, men and women are at equal risk and someone is more prone to develop this condition due to certain factors. Check below some examples:

  • Trauma (such as sexual, emotional, or physical)
  • Family history of eating disorders, addiction, or other mental conditions (such as depression)
  • Medical history of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety, and others
  • History of dieting

Additionally, there are certain factors that may also increase your risk of eating disorders. For example:

  • Certain major life changes including divorce, new school or job, and others
  • Perfectionistic tendencies
  • Some activities (such as modeling, gymnastics, swimming, wrestling, running, and others)
  • Diabetes (roughly one-fourth of women who experience type 1 diabetes develop an eating disorder)


It is roughly impossible to tell whether someone has an eating disorder or not. A person can have an eating disorder no matter of body weight, size, and age. The symptoms usually are different from person to person. Check below some general symptoms of an eating disorder:

  • Fatigue
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Mood swings
  • Thinning hair or hair loss
  • Unusual hot flashes or sweating
  • Unexplained weight changes or extreme weight loss
  • Frequent bathroom breaks after eating

In addition, check below some other changes that also may occur:

  • Decreased desire to eat with other people
  • Withdrawing from social activities or friends
  • Hiding food
  • Concentrating on food, exercise, calorie, or weight loss
  • Chewing food more than is needed


In most cases, an individual develops an eating disorder due to a combination of social and environmental factors, and genetics.


Physicians including mental health professionals and doctors diagnose an eating disorder. Therefore, they will:

  • Ask about symptoms
  • Check medical and family history
  • Order a blood test
  • Perform a physical examination

In addition, healthcare providers may use the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to determine whether you have an eating disorder or not.


The treatment usually is based on the individual’s specific symptoms and needs. Check below some treatment options:

  • Nutrition Counseling – A dietician with experience in treating eating disorders can help improve eating habits and give you tips for meal planning and preparation and grocery shopping.
  • Medications – Some people may experience an eating disorder due to other existing health conditions (such as anxiety or depression). Therefore, using antidepressants may improve your existing diseases, which can help with abnormal thoughts about food.
  • Maudsley Approach – A family therapy that helps parents manage teenagers who experience anorexia.
  • Psychotherapy – There are certain people who can improve their eating disorders with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Thus, this therapy helps you to understand and change the thinking that drives emotions and behavior.

Do not administer any medications without a doctor’s recommendation because your symptoms and condition may worsen.


In case you leave untreated an eating disorder it may lead to certain complications. Check below some examples:

  • Stroke
  • Amenorrhea (stopped menstrual cycles)
  • Infertility
  • Severe constipation and dehydration
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD (acid reflux)
  • Heart disease (such as arrhythmia, heart failure, and others)
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Brain damage and organ failure
  • Osteoporosis and tooth damage

Is it Possible to Prevent an Eating Disorder?

Early diagnosing and treatment can help to prevent this condition until it becomes too hard to overcome. Another way to manage this condition is to treat existing health conditions that provoke eating disorders (including depression, anxiety, OCD, and others).

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I call the doctor?

If you experience any of the following cases, immediately contact your healthcare provider. For example:

  • Chest pain, heart palpitations, and shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Severe sore throat and acid reflux
  • Blurred vision or slurred speech
  • In case your relationship with food provokes distress or problems in performing daily activities

What are the types of eating disorders?

  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Bulimia Nervosa
  • Binge Eating Disorder

If you suspect you have an eating disorder, it is advised to see a doctor.

What are treatment options for an eating disorder?

Eating disorder treatment usually includes the following:

  • Individual or group psychotherapy
  • Monitoring and medical care
  • Medicines
  • Nutritional counseling

Moreover, you should not use any medicines without a physician’s recommendations. Otherwise, you may experience worsening of your symptoms and diseases.

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