Understanding the Causes and Effects of Eating Disorders

There are many illnesses where a person struggles with irregular eating habits and a severe concern about their weight. These are known as eating disorders, and they come in different forms. Some examples include binge eating disorder, Anorexia Nervosa, and Bulimia Nervosa. There are no age and gender restrictions as far as these illnesses are concerned, but the usual age group affected is the teenager and youth adults section of society. The causes, signs, symptoms, and treatment methods for these disorders are looked at in this article.

The Causes of Eating Disorders

There are different eating disorders, which are each characterized by specific behaviors and traits. In anorexia, for example, obsessive concern about gaining weight and being overweight can lead someone to limit the amount of food they eat to the detriment of their overall health. In bulimia, cycles of binge eating followed by purging can also lead to health complications. In binge eating disorder, a person also experiences periods of extreme binge-eating, but unlike bulimia, there is no purging stage. The result is often obesity.

Eating disorders have a physical part and a psychological part. The physical component involves the eating habits and associated behaviors. Excessive eating, purging through forced vomiting and extreme exercise, as well as extreme dieting, are all examples. The psychological part involves the intense feelings that come with the behavior and the motivations behind it. Examples of feelings experienced are fear, shame, and disgust. These often lead the sufferer to perform their actions in secret. The motives for all of this may be a distorted view of their weight and appearance.

Eating disorders have different causes. Biological factors such as nutritional deficiencies, genetics, and irregular hormone functions could all be behind an eating disorder. Low self-esteem and a poor body image are examples of psychological factors that could also be at play. There are also many different environmental factors that can contribute to an eating disorder. Where and how a person lives, works, and grows up can lead to trauma and dysfunction. People involved in specific careers and professional sports may also face intense pressure to be a certain weight and have a specific appearance. Peer pressure and stress can also lead someone to act a certain way and struggle with their self-image, weight, and eating habits.

Effects of Eating Disorder

Many of the signs and symptoms of eating disorders have already been discussed. The sufferer may experience self-esteem issues and intense fear, anxiety, shame, and depression. Repeated extreme eating behaviors include constantly counting calories, dieting, and ritualistic eating. All of these can result in isolation and many adverse health effects such as heart difficulties, gastrointestinal issues, severe dehydration, obesity, organ failure, and even death.

Of all the eating disorders, anorexia has the most serious and potentially deadly consequences. Getting help and treatment for an eating disorder is, therefore, a matter of urgency. One of the challenges with this is the secretive behavior and shame that the person with the condition may display and experience, respectively.

Help for eating disorders is available in the form of a complete package to provide a well-rounded and well-balanced treatment plan. A range of professional services is needed to address the medical issues, the nutrition issues, as well as the underlying psychological issues. Individualized meal plans are required to get the person back into a better place as far as their nutrition. Psychotherapy is often required to address the root issues of the eating disorder. Medical treatment, including medication and medical monitoring, also plays an important role in getting the sick person back to a good state of health and wellbeing.


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