An eating disorder has been a long term battle for teenagers in the United States. It is largely associated with extreme emotional and physical struggles with depression and has long been considered as an addiction and obsession. Eating disorders are strongly linked to the abnormal perception of an individual to food and eating while connecting it to one's physical appearance. Eating disorders take different forms and proper treatment should be obtained in order to prevent the more serious health consequences of the condition.
Kinds of eating disorders
Anorexia nervosa is the act of extreme denial of food and hunger. One is obsessed with becoming thin in order to feel beautiful. An individual who is anorexic has an indistinct perception of their image and believes they look fat when in reality, they are literally reduced to a skin and bone state. They usually have mood swings and very irritable. Anorexic people also have the fear of the public seeing them eat.
Bulimia nervosa is the act of eating excessive amount of food only to flush it out immediately. A bulimic person is usually overweight and they believe flushing out the food they ate through induced vomiting or purging will help them flush out the excess calories consumed by the body. In order to make sure there is nothing left, some even use laxative in order to fully flush out foods from their body.
Binge eating is similar to people who eat when they are depressed. People who binge eat tend to eat more than what they can actually consume and don't even bother to exercise to burn calories and fats. An individual who has this kind of eating disorder is neither thin nor fat. Whether someone is obese or just within their weight range, they can also result to binge eating disorder.
Symptoms of eating disorders
Subjecting oneself to extreme hunger and refusing to eat indicates an eating disorder. This kind of behavior is present among anorexic people. They believe that the slightest presence of food in their body will change their physical appearance for the worse. This kind of negative psychological belief usually takes years to overcome and extensive session with a therapist is often required.
Excessive exercise and the feeling of uncontrolled eating habits is a classic symptom bulimia. After eating excessive amount of food, the person feels guilt and compensate by trying to remove their caloric intake by exercising too much, purging or using laxatives.
Anxiety and depression link to eating disorders
Doctors find a strong connection of anxiety and depression to eating disorders. Anxiety usually comes first that can trigger different emotional state that may encourage the development of an eating disorder. Two out of three individuals who were diagnosed with eating disorders have some form of an anxiety or depression. The risk is higher among individuals with an obsessive compulsive disorder.
Treatment of eating disorder
An eating disorder is usually viewed as a form of addiction or obsession that requires therapeutic intervention involving the family members of the person affected. Most of the time, eating disorders are treated together with their anxiety or depression.
Psychotherapy allows doctors to interact with an individual with eating disorders. The individual is encouraged to express their thoughts about eating and their perception about food. It helps the doctor to understand the unique experience of the person and identify the potential causes of the behavior. The person learns how to take a positive view about eating and are taught the proper way of dealing with anxiety and how to find more meaningful activities to divert attention from eating.
- Food Nutrition Education
The abnormal perception about food making a person look fat, ugly and unfit may be corrected with proper nutritional therapy. It also helps the affected individual value the importance of nutrition to health and body.
Counseling is a treatment process involving the affected individual and family members. People with eating disorders need support groups that can understand their crisis and be able to provide help to correct their abnormal behavior. The immediate family members and the patient learn to understand the nature of the eating disorder and how to properly cope with it.
- Diet Planning
Dieticians know exactly what people with eating disorders need. It is during this time that meal planning does not depend on what the person wants to eat, but the kind of nutrition she needs in order to become healthy again. Dieticians have separate meal plans for those who have anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, which are specifically prepared to meet the body's nutritional needs.
- Psychological counseling
Psychological counseling includes the process of regularizing the eating patterns and habits of persons with eating disorders. The abnormal eating patterns are corrected and the individual learns the proper way of coping with their condition without resorting to abnormal eating behaviors. Lifestyle changes are taught while the individual learns to regain back self esteem and proper body perception.
When to seek help
Most people with eating disorders are in denial of their abnormal behavior and their loved ones are assumed to take the responsibility of getting help from professionals. Individuals with eating disorders are likely to cover up their abnormal eating patterns and behavior. A person who is overly concerned about their weight and showing an extreme guilt about eating are initial signs of an eating disorder. A person who goes to the extreme effort of losing weight like purging and taking laxatives manifest an abnormal behavior that should warn family members about a potential eating disorder. Others will try to hide their eating activities, but this may become obvious when you see them eating more than necessary and try to hoard foods, which is common among binge eaters.
If you are unsure, it is best to consult a doctor just the same. A simple sign of depression or anxiety disorder should be given attention as well. The presence of anxiety, depression and eating disorders can be detrimental to a person where rising guilt and the feeling of self disgust are common. This can potentially increase the chance of developing a suicidal behavior that requires immediate intervention.
Organ failure is not so surprising for people who have eating disorders. Whether they are anorexic, bulimic or binge eating, the result will be the same for the reasons that they may not be receiving the right kind of nutrients for the body or and improper food consumption can result in organ failure. Stunted growth is common in younger people who have eating disorders. Stunted growth is the result of not having enough vitamins and nutrients in the body.
Death is the most serious outcome of eating disorders. Whether it is caused by suicide or the effect of multiple organ failure, death is the last thing anyone wants to happen from an eating disorder. Some take eating disorders lightly without realizing the potential dangers that may result from it. Seeking for professional help at the early stage of the disorder can help reverse the abnormal cycle of eating. Call your doctor immediately at the first signs of anxiety, depression or eating disorders in order to receive a holistic treatment approach that will correct the abnormal psychological perception of the individual about foods and restore their normal and healthy eating habit.