Eating Disorders

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An eating disorder is a mental illness. People who suffer from eating disorders have irregular eating habits and are often concerned about body weight or shape, having an unhealthy body image. The disorders may include lack of or excessive food intake, which in the end will damage an individual`s well-being. An eating disorder can develop during any stage in life, but it is most typically to appear during the teen years or young adulthood. Both men and women are prone to eating disorders, and the most common forms are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder. 

Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by a severe degree of underweight and limited food intake. Anorexia causes a person to have an extreme fear of gaining weight. Despite having a weight far below normal, many feel that their body is large and fat. While suffering from anorexia it is common to both deny being underweight and the medical consequences of the condition. Similar with bulimia, some people with anorexia may vomit after consuming food.    

Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by several and repeated causes of overeating. People suffering from this form of eating disorder will in a short period of time eat a lot more food than an average person would eat in the same situation. Each of these periods is followed by actions to compensate for the large food intake and to avoid weight gain. The most common method is to make themselves throw up, but use of laxatives, periods of fasting and excessive amount of exercise can also occur. People suffering from bulimia are often normal weight or overweight, therefor it can and will be more difficult to recognize than anorexia. It is said that about 30 per cent of people with bulimia have suffered a form of anorexia. 

Binge eating disorder is characterized by episodes of overeating but unlike bulimia, the people suffering from bingeing is eating without compensating with actions such as vomiting. Binge eating episodes are characterized by loss of control when eating. This leads the person to eating far more than the average person as well as not being able to stop before they have consumed far more food than recommended. As well as this, a person suffering from binge eating may eat faster than usual, even when they are not hungry, or eat alone because they are embarrassed. Most of the time, they will not stop eating until they are uncomfortably full. After these periods of time it is not uncommon for people suffering from binge eating to feel shame, be disgusted or have depressive thoughts. Some people with this disorder are overweight.

It is important to remember that people do not choose to have an eating disorder, it is caused by a complex combination of factors such as genetics, psychological, cultural and environmental. Today’s society have misunderstood the causes leading to eating disorders, because it`s rarely about food or wanting to be thin or achieve the so called ideal body. What we do see is that people who suffer is using unhealthy behaviors around food and body, to cope with feelings and situations that are unpleasant and overwhelming. In the short term it is proven that these behaviors relieve anxiety and stress, but in the long run they increase anxiety and stress and create other serious complications.

Genetics is one cause in terms of developing eating disorders. Eating disorders tend to run in families. Also it is shown that identical twins are more exposed to eating disorders than fraternal twins or other siblings. Last but not least it is proven that that some specific chromosomes have been linked to both bulimia and anorexia. 

There are a lot of psychological factors that can contribute to eating disorders. To be correct, eating disorders are quite common among people who struggle with clinical depression, anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder. There can also be other reasons such as low self-esteem, feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy, trouble coping with emotions or expressing your emotions, perfectionism, and impulsivity. As said earlier, many people choose to cope with their mental issues by creating unhealthy habits related to food and their body. 

Today’s society is one of the biggest cause in terms of developing an eating disorder. We encourage people to start dieting, making them feel unsatisfied with their body wanting to be thin. Which pretty much sums up factors that increase the risk for an eating disorder. In every magazine you see articles encouraging rapid weight loss, to count your calories or workouts that give you the ideal body. 

Our society provides us beauty standards that are totally unrealistic, as well as it promotes an unachievable body shape. Not only that, our society is also saying that if you are thin, then you have made it in life. This is because being thin is only associated with having good health, being attractive, successful and loving. 

We also have the media`s focus on dieting and striving for a slim and toned body. All over the media you see people who have tried different diets, lost weight and now feel accomplished. Say what you want, but most of us get affected by this to a great extent.

Last but not least you environment. This can play a major role in the development of an eating disorder. For instance it can come from earlier experiences, and especially if you have had a difficult past. Either in a relationship, with family or friends. It can also come from a difficult or turbulent childhood, history of physical or sexual abuse. Activities and sports that encourage thinness or are focusing on weight, such as gymnastics, dancing, running, wrestling and modeling. It can also come from peer pressure, or from being bullied because of weight or appearance in general.

An eating disorder is a mental illness and in the worst case scenario it can kill you. To overcome this disorder, help is required. One cannot just grow out of an eating disorder over time, but with the right treatment you are able to make a full recovery. It is important to remember that how people recover varies from person to person, therefor it can be difficult to find your treatment in an early stage of recovery. The most important thing to remember is to ask for help. 


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