Thought Disorder

Common Types of Eating Disorders

Common Types of Eating Disorders

What is an eating disorder? Read on to learn more about eating disorders, emotional and behavioral eating disorder symptoms, and treatment options.

What Are Eating Disorders?

Mental health conditions known as eating disorders are defined by severe eating behavior disturbances and negative thoughts and emotions. Eating disorders can severely impact a person's ability to function physically, psychologically, and socially. In some situations, eating disorders can be fatal. Anyone can suffer from eating disorders regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or background.

Eating disorders can be severe fatal illnesses characterized by substantial disruptions in people's eating habits, related emotions, and thoughts. According to national surveys, 10 million men and 20 million women in the United States will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lives. Anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and bulimia nervosa are the three most prevalent eating disorders.
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Types of Eating Disorders

How Are Eating Disorders Diagnosed?

Numerous evaluations help diagnose an eating disorder. Eating disorders are identified based on eating habits, signs, and symptoms. If a doctor notices an individual exhibiting eating disorder symptoms, they'll conduct an examination and order tests, including:

  • Patient Assessment: A clinician will need to interview the person and, if applicable, their loved ones to diagnose an eating disorder and identify the best course of action. The doctor will enquire about the individual's medical history, including basic inquiries about dietary habits. The doctor will evaluate the individual's attitudes concerning appearance, eating, and exercising.
  • Medical Examination: Various medical conditions brought on by self-starvation, binge eating, over-exercising, and purging are frequently present alongside eating disorders. This makes a medical examination a requirement for the treatment of eating disorders. A doctor will often examine the person's skin condition, hair loss, body mass index (BMI), growth chart, and other factors.
  • Laboratory Testing: Clinicians may require laboratory tests and bloodwork to accurately diagnose an eating disorder problem. The doctors use lab test results to determine the appropriate treatment to administer. The laboratory tests will assess blood sugar levels, electrolyte levels, liver and kidney function, and urine chemicals.

How Common Are Eating Disorders?

One of the fatal mental illnesses in the US is the eating disorder Anorexia Nervosa (AN). According to national surveys, 30 million Americans are predicted to experience an eating disorder problem at some point. An estimated 8 million Americans suffer from an eating disorder.2 At least 9% of the population worldwide suffer from eating disorders.3

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Who Suffers the Most from Eating Disorders?

Women are thought to be the group most affected by eating disorders. According to studies, women are more likely than men to suffer from binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, and anorexia nervosa. Seven million women, and one million men, suffer from eating disorders in the US.

Anorexia is a condition that affects one in 200 American women. 80% of 13-year-old girls have tried to lose weight, and 50% of girls between the ages of 11 and 13 view themselves as overweight. The third most prevalent chronic condition among teenagers is anorexia nervosa.

Emotional & Behavioral Eating Disorders Symptoms

The warning signs vary for each eating disorder problem. Individuals suffering from an eating disorder typically won't exhibit all these signs and symptoms simultaneously. Here are the common emotional and behavioral eating disorder signs:

  • Eating alone or hiding food
  • Skipping meals
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Distorted body image
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Difficulty
  • Checking in the mirror often

Physical Warning Signs of An Eating Disorder

The following are general physical eating disorder signs:

  • Weight fluctuations (both up and down) that occur rapidly
  • Severe constipation
  • Low blood pressure
  • Slowed breathing and pulse
  • Brittle hair and nails
  • Dry, yellowish skin

Types of Eating Disorders

The term "eating disorders" refers to conditions involving severe weight and dietary issues. Each disorder has its own set of symptoms and diagnostic requirements. Below are the common six types of eating disorders and their relevant symptoms.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder in which individuals avoid eating, severely restrict their food intake, or consume only minimal food. Despite being extremely underweight, anorexics frequently perceive themselves as overweight. Symptoms of anorexia include a person frequently tracking their weight and rigorously limiting their calorie intake.

Anorexia typically manifests in youth or early adulthood and affects more women than males. Due to its high mortality rate, experts list anorexia nervosa as the most lethal mental disorder. Anorexia nervosa has two subtypes:
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  • Restrictive: People with restrictive anorexia lose weight largely through diets, fasting, or intense exercise.
  • Binge-Purge: Those who suffer from binge-purge anorexia eat a lot of food quickly. They resort to vomiting, laxatives, or diuretics to get rid of what they've eaten. These behaviors are known as episodes of binge eating and purging.

Bulimia Nervosa

People with bulimia try to purge to make up for the calories they've already eaten and to feel better. This binge eating is followed by compensatory behavior. With bulimia nervosa, individuals have recurrent and regular episodes of excessive eating and feeling out of control.

The behaviors associated with binge eating include abusing laxatives or diuretics, over-exercising, or forcing vomiting. Bulimia often manifests during adolescence and the early stages of adulthood and seems to affect men less frequently than women.

Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

The most common eating disorder and one of the most prevalent chronic disorders among teenagers is binge eating disorder. A person with a binge-eating disorder loses control over their eating and experiences recurrent episodes of eating excessive amounts of food.

In contrast to bulimia nervosa, binge eating episodes are not followed by fasting, intense exercise, or purging. Binge eating disorder causes sufferers to be overweight or obese. The eating disorder signs of BED are comparable to those of bulimia or the anorexia binge eating subtype.

Pica

Pica is an eating disorder in which a person consumes non-nutritional items such as ice, paper, chalk, and soap. Pica frequently goes undetected until serious medical problems, such as fractured teeth, infections, or metal toxicity, occur. Pica affects people of all sexes and ages, although it's more likely to first manifest in children.

Pica might be lethal, depending on the items the individual consumes. Since people with pica frequently eat conventional foods, they can still obtain all the necessary nutrients. However, some of the non-food substances they eat can be harmful, especially if consumed excessively.

Rumination Disorder

In the case of rumination disorder, the individual brings up partially digested food repeatedly and habitually. Rumination eating disorder causes no pain, frequently happens effortlessly, and is unrelated to nausea or disgust. Any age group can suffer from rumination disorder. Usually, this rumination starts during the first 30 minutes following a meal.

Rumination disorder can cause severe malnutrition that can be fatal and cause weight loss. The individual may either spit out the meal or re-chew and re-swallow it. Those who suffer from rumination disorder frequently don't feel in control of their condition.

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

"Selective Eating Disorder" was once used to describe the avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID). The eating disorder symptoms of ARFID include avoiding specific foods or food groups and restricting the total amount of food consumed. Individuals suffering from AFRID have no anxiety associated with body size, shape, or thoughts of becoming overweight.5

What Causes Eating Disorders?

The exact cause of eating disorders is unknown. Researchers believe that a complex interaction of factors causes eating disorders. These include genetic, biological, behavioral, psychological, and social factors.6

Biological Factors

There are biological factors that contribute to the development of eating disorders. Having a close relative with an eating disorder problem or mental health condition increases the chances that a person will develop an eating disorder. According to family studies, a person's likelihood of developing an eating disorder increases if they have a relative who exhibits certain risk factors.

Psychological Factors

Strong risk factors such as anxiety disorder, body image dissatisfaction, or self-oriented perfectionism increase the risk of eating disorders. According to research, a significant percentage of persons with eating disorders had symptoms of an anxiety condition before developing their eating disorder.

It's common for people to be self-conscious about their appearance. Individuals who suffer from eating disorders likely experience body image dissatisfaction.

Environmental Factors

It is widely believed that having a small, slender body is preferable. According to research, weight stigma can promote body dissatisfaction and increase the risk of eating disorders. Other social factors such as teasing, peer pressure, occupations, and bullying also increase the likelihood of developing eating disorders. Those who suffer from anorexia report having fewer friends, participating in fewer social activities, and receiving less social support.

Risk Factors of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are more prevalent in women than in men. The following genetic, societal, and environmental factors may increase an individual's chance of developing an eating disorder:

Family History

Genes may increase an individual's tendency to develop an eating disorder. Studies show that first-degree relatives with eating disorders are more likely to develop it.

Other Mental Health Disorders

People who suffer from anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or depression are more likely to develop eating disorders. Low self-esteem, problematic relationships, and impulsive conduct are other mental health conditions that raise the risk of developing eating disorders.

Dieting and Starvation

While some diets promote balance and good health, many emphasize quick weight loss. The body is frequently deprived of important nutrients by the restricted eating patterns promoted by weight loss diets. This can result in eating disorders.

Stress

An eating disorder may result from stressful circumstances or interpersonal relationships. Inability to properly cope with stress can result in the development of unhealthy coping mechanisms. Individuals who develop negative coping skills may develop an eating disorder.

Complications of Eating Disorders

Here are some side effects of eating disorders:

  • Serious health problems
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Problems with growth and development
  • Social and relationship problems
  • Substance use disorders

Treatment Opportunities

It is critical to seek treatment for eating disorders as soon as possible. Eating disorders treatment plans are customized to each person's needs. Treatment opportunities for eating disorders will be detailed below.

Family Based Therapy and Psychotherapies

Clinicians use psychotherapies, including cognitive behavioral therapy and family-based therapy, to treat eating disorders. Family-based therapy has proven effective in which relatives of anorexic individuals take responsibility for feeding them.

This therapy involves relatives showing support and encourages individuals suffering from eating disorders to gain weight and improve eating habits and emotions.

Cognitive Behavioral Treatment

Individuals may receive cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT) to lessen or stop their binge-eating and purging tendencies. CBT is another form of psychotherapy that aids in the identification of distorted or harmful thought patterns. Clinicians use CBT to treat and modify false beliefs.

Types of Eating Disorders

Medications

Research suggests that drugs including mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants may also be beneficial for treating eating disorders. The medications for eating disorders are used to treat co-occurring conditions like anxiety or depression.

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