Signs of 3 Major Eating Disorders

An eating disorder is a serious medical illness that is related to abnormal eating behavior, which may have a negative impact on your health and emotions and make you unable to function in several important aspects of life. In the majority of the eating disorders, the focus of the patient is on weight and body shape, resulting in dangerous and serious eating behaviors. The common disorders of eating are bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder and anorexia nervosa.

Signs of an Eating Disorder

It is a tendency of eating disorders to develop in teenagers or young adults (mostly females). The exact cause of them is not known, but they tend to occur along with medical and psychological issues including depression, low self-esteem, substance abuse, anxiety and difficulty dealing with emotions.

Your body may not be able to obtain adequate nutrition due to eating disorders. They can lead to diseases of the heart, bones, digestive system, mouth and teeth, if left untreated. However, with proper treatment you may return back to healthy eating habits and reverse complications that are caused by them.

Signs and Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa

Individuals suffering from anorexia nervosa have fear of gaining even slight weight to an extreme degree. They exercise and diet relentlessly, even to the point that they starve. Around 1/3 to ½ of individuals having anorexia also binge eats and then purge by misusing laxatives or vomiting. They have a distorted image of their bodies, thinking that they are obese or overweight, when in reality they have lower than normal weight.

Signs of an eating disorder--anorexia are subtle initially due to its gradual development. The following behaviors and symptoms are commonly present in persons suffering from anorexia:

If not treated, anorexia may result in serious complications of organ failure and malnutrition.

Signs and Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa

Persons who have bulimia nervosa suffer from episodes of consuming excessive quantities of food (referred to as binge eating) which is followed by purging (using laxatives or vomiting), exercising excessively or fasting to overcome the effects of overeating.

Not like anorexia, bulimic people have normal weight. However, they also have extreme fear that they will gain weight and have a distorted image of their body. Signs of an eating disorder--bulimia nervosa are the following:

If not treated, bulimia nervosa may result in health problems in the long term such as dental problems, abnormal rhythms of heart, kidney problems and esophageal bleeding due to gastroesophageal reflux. However, successful treatment of bulimia is possible through antidepressants, anticonvulsant drugs, cognitive-behavior therapy or combination of all these therapies.

Signs and Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder

Instead of eating excessively every time, people suffering from this disorder, suffer from episodes when they eat large amounts of food; however, later they feel shameful and guilty about these episodes of binge eating. This behavior creates a vicious cycle as the more upset they become, the more they do it. Since, these individuals do not fast, exercise or purge after bingeing, they are generally obese or overweight.

Signs of an eating disorder--binge eating disorder are as follows:

Since binge eating results in obesity, if not treated on time, it may have serious effects on health. Behavioral programs of weight loss may prove helpful for both weight loss and controlling binge eating behavior. FDA has approved the drug Vyvanse to treat binge eating disorder. Psychotherapy and antidepressants may also prove helpful in treating the disorder.

When to Visit a Physician

Unfortunately, many persons suffering from eating disorders will not realize that they require treatment. If you think that your loved one is showing signs of an eating disorder, urge them to visit a physician. Red flags, which indicate that a physician should be visited, are:

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