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All You Need to Know about Eating Disorders

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  • All You Need to Know about Eating Disorders

    Eating disorders are a type of mental illness characterized by abnormal eating habits that often result in excessive weight gain or loss. It has the highest death rate compared to other mental disorders. The condition currently affects 70 million people worldwide and is most prominent in the younger age group.



    Eating disorders are the third most common chronic disease in women and 15% of women experience it at least once in their life. Eating disorders usually occur in late childhood or during adolescence.


    What are the causes of eating disorders?


    The causes of eating disorders are yet to be identified, but several factors can contribute to their development. The most important causes of eating disorders include:


    Genetic: If a person's ancestor had suffered from this disorder, then the person has a seven to twelve times greater risk of developing an eating disorder. Genes that can cause eating disorders are currently being extensively investigated.


    Psychological: Some of the psychological factors that contribute to eating disorders include negative thoughts, feelings of insecurity, low self-esteem, and body dissatisfaction.


    Social: society plays an important role in the development of eating disorders. Criticisms of body appearance, shape and size, advertisements with slim models, dietary habits, harassment, sexual abuse, and perfectionism can all trigger eating disorders.


    Binge Eating Disorder (BED): BED is characterized by eating a lot of food frequently, even when you are not hungry. It is similar to bulimia treatment and except that patients do not participate in purging episodes. The disorder often develops in the late teens. The lifetime prevalence of BED is 2 percent in men and 3.5 percent in women, which is higher than that of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.


    How to diagnose eating disorders?


    It is difficult to diagnose eating disorders because people do not show specific symptoms. Only after analyzing the symptoms experienced over a certain period, the possibility of an eating disorder can be detected.


    Standard diagnostic methods used by physicians include:


    Medical history: Doctors examine a patient's medical history by asking about symptoms and eating habits and also about the medical history of her parents. They may also look for weight gain or loss, depressive symptoms, negative thoughts, and body dissatisfaction.


    Psychological evaluation: After ruling out genetic influences or hereditary causes, doctors may perform certain tests or request to complete a questionnaire to detect or diagnose eating disorders.


    How to treat eating disorders?


    Treatment for eating disorders is based on the type and symptoms an individual experiences. Treatment for each disorder is unique, but one or more treatment options may be offered to a single patient.


    Eating disorder treatment will also involve addressing other mental illnesses or health problems additionally. Treatments for eating disorders include the following:


    Nutritional Counseling: If a person has any trouble eating or restricting food, they can first approach a dietitian or nutritionist for the proper advice. The dietitian can analyze the individual's symptoms and advise on healthy eating practices.


    Psychotherapy: People with eating disorders are likely to be emotional, sensitive, and vulnerable. Psychotherapy is a method practiced by a speaking psychologist to treat mental illness. The psychologist will form a bond of trust with the patient and will address issues related to food, negative thoughts, body image problems, and low self-esteem.


    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is an excellent treatment method for eating disorders. It deals with the thoughts and behavior patterns of an individual and helps to overcome disordered eating problems. A psychiatrist or psychologist can be contacted for this therapy.


    Family Based Therapy (FBT): For any mental disorder, the support of family and friends is crucial to overcome it. Family-based therapy will help people feel secure about their family members and reveal their emotional feelings related to their eating disorder. The psychologist can address other problems in the family, as well as conflict between members, communication problems, or physical or sexual abuse, which can help in the recovery of the patient.


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