An eating disorder is a serious mental health issue involving an eating disturbance that becomes a habit. The person thinks that he or she is fat, overweight and disgusting which is why there is an eating condition. Even if the person is not at all fat or overweight, in his or her mind, the disturbing thought is there and it cannot be controlled. Symptoms and signs vary from one issue to another as there are more than one type of eating disorder.
It is truly a mental health issue and a very grave one at that because an eating disorder is based on biology. Some of these eating disorders can be passed on from parent to child. There are medical proofs that a grandmother, a mother and her daughter all have the same eating disorder. It’s not just about food. The issue is that they are psychologically thinking that their bodies have a “problem” and they think the (temporary) solution to their self-image problem is by giving in to their eating disorder.
There are three major types of eating disorders namely Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating. Another disorder called Body Dysmorphic Disorder or BDD is being associated to these eating disorders. A person feels distorted about his or her body and he or she will obsess about it for hours or even the whole day. That’s BDD. With this, the person will then succumb to an eating disorder, either Anorexia, Bulimia or Binge Eating, to feel better.
The person has this extreme idea of body image – waif, super thin and basically, unhealthy. But for that person, he or she is not thin enough. There is this obsessive fear of gaining weight and so, the person will refuse to eat. Some don’t even eat for days and if they do, they restrict their diet. What they’re eating is not enough and in time, if the disorder is not corrected, the person will suffer greatly. Effects of Anorexia Nervosa include brain damage, body organs shut down, bone deterioration, heart problems, and sterility. People die because of Anorexia.
This eating disorder is the opposite of Anorexia Nervosa in a certain way. The person will binge eat and it is usually the same food over and over again. For example, the person has this special liking to grapes. He or she will then eat kilos of grapes in one sitting. And when the person is done, he or she will insert a finger inside the mouth and throw up everything he or she has eaten. Yes, the person will force vomiting to compensate for the compulsive eating. He or she may also over exercise up to the point of almost fainting and will use laxatives regularly. The effects of Bulimia Nervosa on the person will be problems of the gastric tract, acute dehydration and electrolyte disparity which can cause heart ailments, among others.
The similarity between Binge Eating Disorder and Bulimia Nervosa is the need to binge eat. But unlike Bulimia, people with Binge Eating Disorder doesn’t perform purging, vomiting, or extreme exercising and using of laxatives. The people with this disorder just eat and eat. They eat when they are sad. They eat when they are happy and they tend to be obese due to their emotional eating. It doesn’t mean that all obese people have this disorder. The distinguishing factor of this disorder is when after eating, the person feels very guilty or is truly distressed for binge eating – and yet, he or she eats without control again.
There are treatment centers and online counseling services which specialized in eating disorders. This is a mental health problem and if you have an eating disorder, a team of professionals will have to assist you in moving forward.