Treating Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are a classification of conditions in which the individual suffers from an unhealthy obsession with food, exercise and weight loss, often as a result of self esteem or poor body image. Eating disorders are highly dangerous, and can be life threatening in extreme cases. It is important for individuals suffering from eating disorders to get proper treatment as soon as possible.

Types of Eating Disorders

There are a variety of types of eating disorders, and many that most people don’t realize are disorders. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are the two most common eating disorders. People suffering from anorexia typically have a complete refusal to eat, while those with bulimia go through stages of starving themselves, to binging and purging. An additional type of anorexia is called anorexia athletica, where the individual is obsessed with excessive exercising in order to lose weight, and may occasionally be combined with other eating disorders.

Binge eating is another type of eating disorder, in which the individual eats a large amount of food in a very short amount of time, for two or more times a week. Overeating is the eating disorder defined as someone who feels out of control, and constantly eats more than they need to, specifically far past the point of being full. Night eating is a fairly new eating disorder, which is characterized by someone who regularly eats large amounts of food, primarily at night, and is linked to obesity.

Symptoms of Eating Disorders

The signs and symptoms of eating disorders vary based on the type of eating disorder. Common symptoms of anorexia nervosa include a refusal to eat or denial of being hungry, a fear of gaining weight, negative self image and low self esteem, exercising excessively, a lack of emotion, constant irritability, fear of eating in front of others, social withdrawal, thin appearance to the point of looking ill, dehydration, irregular heart rhythms, and abdominal pain.

Signs of bulimia include the most obvious which are binge eating and self-induced vomiting, using laxatives to dispel food, excessive exercising, a distorted body image and low self esteem, feeling out of control when it comes to food, constantly running to the bathroom after eating, damaged teeth, and swollen salivary glands as visible in the cheeks.

Other eating disorders are usually easy to spot as well, as their symptoms are directly related to the disorder. Someone who is binge eating, is often eating very large amounts of food in a short period of time. On the other hand, symptoms of someone suffering from anorexia athletic will exercise obsessively and excessively without slowing down.

Treatment for Eating Disorders

A variety of treatment options are available for those suffering from eating disorders, with treatments ranging from medications to deal with underlying causes of the eating disorders, psychotherapy and counseling, nutrition education, family counseling, and possibly hospitalization. Therapy and counseling is often the first step as it is necessary to stop the cycle of bad eating habits and to get to the root cause of the eating disorder. If someone has serious healthy problems, hospitalization might be required before therapy can begin.

In addition to ongoing counseling, nutrition education is also essential. It is important to educate the individual on proper eating habits, as well as what their healthy weight is, and how to properly care for themselves. Many times, individuals with eating disorders are placed in a treatment facility, until they come to terms with normal, healthy eating and exercise habits. Medications are not used to treat the disorder, rather to help treat causes of the disorder, such as medication for anxiety or depression.

Benefits of Treatment

The benefits of treatment for eating disorders involve treating the adverse side effects of having the disorders, such as heart problems, organ failure, depression, suicidal thoughts, menstruation issues, bone loss, digestive issues, kidney damage, tooth decay, irregular blood pressure, and stunted growth.

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