1 What an Eating Disorder Is
There is a lack of education when it comes to eating disorders. Some people may assume that it’s within a person’s control. That it’s just a means of staying skinny or remaining in control.
It’s actually a serious mental illness that affects people of all ages, gender, sex, and race. Eating disorder statistics worldwide show that over 70 million people have been affected by an eating disorder.
2 The Challenge of Treating Eating Disorders
The exact cause of eating disorders is unknown which poses a challenge in preventing it. It does often begin during adolescence. Once a person has the disorder, the behaviors can’t be stopped by the individual alone.
Recovery from an eating disorder is similar to substance addiction, requiring professional help and support to recover. An eating disorder often has a lot less to do with the problem eating and more to do with a brain chemical imbalance.
3 Common Causes of Eating Disorders
Eating disorder can partially occur because of social pressures to be thin. On a worldwide scale, eating disorder statistics 2017 state that one person will die every hour from an eating disorder. It’s more than just social pressure.
Eating disorder causes include environmental, genetic, and biological factors. A particular event, usually of a traumatic nature, will trigger the disorder.
Some common causes of eating disorders include:
- A family history that involves substance abuse, addiction, mood disorders, or eating disorders.
- Environmental causes of eating disorders like being body shamed by someone.
- Being pressured to stay slim from society or their job. This includes models, professional dancers, or athletes.
- Another characteristic causes the behavior. This could be an anxiety disorder, perfectionism, low self-esteem, or an obsessive compulsive disorder.
- Certain experiences that are traumatic. Sexual or emotional abuse or the death of someone important to you.
- Challenging relationships with friends and family.
- Chronically stressful situations like work or school.
- Substance addiction and eating disorders are rooted from the same place. Someone recently sober may end up with an eating disorder.
4 Biological Factors of Eating Disorders
For those who are curious about what is the science behind eating disorders, the biological factors may be the answer. Some people with eating disorders will have a chemical imbalance in the brain that cause the eating disorder.
It is still not known exactly what these imbalances do. Eating disorders will often run down the family with studies showing genetic traits.
Within the biological factors of eating disorders, it is not uncommon for a person to have co-occurrence disorder. They may have an addiction to substances as well as an eating disorder. Risk taking can cause a person to eat until they’re sick while at the same time, binging on alcohol until they pass out.
5 Psychological Factors of Eating Disorders
Science has found that those with eating disorders will often exhibit certain behaviors and feelings. This includes:
- Low self-esteem.
- Feeling of inadequacy.
- Extreme loneliness.
- They feel as though they don’t have control of their life.
6 Social Factors of Eating Disorders
“I think I have an eating disorder but I’m not skinny” is an implication that someone is having a problem with their body image. The social pressure can create a distorted view for impressionable youth mainly, according to eating disorders statistics.
What they really want is to fit in which could mean striving to become what they see as the cultural norm. If there’s a problem with brain chemistry, that version of “normal” might be the opposite.
7 Interpersonal Factors of Eating Disorders
If someone is dealing with troubled personal relationships and they don’t express how they feel, this can cause an eating disorder.
For someone who has been teased or ridiculed due to their appearance, it can cause stress or a high level of anxiety. This could mean binging or not eating at all.
Often, eating disorders have a connection to physical or sexual abuse. People will either not eat to feel a sense of control or overeat in an attempt to feel comforted.
8 Types of Eating Disorder
Anorexia is the most fatal mental disorder. In fact, the anorexia mortality rate is 10%. The reason for the high mortality rate is complex. There are a few ways people with this disorder will die.
The anorexia death rate can be attributed to people starving to death or they may die from metabolic collapse. Suicide is also a prevalent factor when it comes to this particular eating disorder. Suicide is the most common mental disorder that causes death in women.
Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa
- The person won’t eat adequate amounts of food.
- You can visibly tell the person is extremely underweight.
- An abnormal fear of weight gain.
- Going through great lengths to prevent gaining.
- Self-esteem is heavily connected to body image.
- They don’t have a grasp on how dangerous the situation is.
Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorders involves many episodes of eating a lot of food at one time. Some with a binge eating disorder won’t try to prevent weight gain such as self-induced vomiting. Night eating syndrome can sit within a binge eating disorder
Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder
- The person will feel out of control during times of binging.
- They will feel extreme shame and guilt about their binge eating.
- They will eat when they’re not hungry.
- They will eat to the point of feeling uncomfortable.
- They eat away from other because of the deep shame they feel about their behavior.
What is the most common eating disorder? It’s both bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. Bulimia eating disorders are classified by binging eating followed by a purging behavior. They will eat a lot of food at once and then feel totally out of control.
To compensate for this loss of control feeling, they will then force themselves to vomit. People with bulimia will often maintain a fairly normal weight. This makes it harder to determine and intervene with bulimia.
Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa
- Use of laxatives, diuretics, fasting, excessive exercise or all of the above to maintain control of their weight.
- They will frequently eat an excessive amount of food.
- They will follow this overeating with self-induced vomiting.
- They feel out of control when they do binge eat.
- Their self-esteem is highly related to the image of their body.
Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified
- Restrictive food intake disorder.
- Atypical anorexia nervosa. Many of the same eating disorder symptoms but the weight is not below normal.
- Purging disorder. Even though the person doesn’t binge eat, they will still purge.
- Night eating syndrome.
- Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder. The person restricts how much food they eat but doesn’t display other anorexic classifications.
9 Effects of Eating Disorders
Restricting the body of nutrients the way eating disorders do is a life threatening disease. While some may wish they had an eating disorder, it is anything but glamorous.
Generally the body is resilient but it is possible that an electrolyte imbalance can kill someone with no warning. Cardiac arrest is a possibility as well.
As the body is restricted of food, it will start to break down in order to survive. It will use its own tissue to fuel itself. This results in a breakdown of muscles, which includes the heart. Blood sugar fluctuates, intestines can become blocked, and infections can occur.
Long-term inadequate nutrition weakens the whole body, making it uncomfortable to do anything. The body can’t digest properly as muscles in the intestines weaken. With binge-eating, the stomach could potentially rupture.
10 Treatment for Eating Disorders
An eating disorder is a treatable illness and often co-occur with other illnesses such as substance addiction or mood disorders. Getting treatment for an eating disorder is essential. When you look at the 10% mortality rate of anorexia, there is an obvious risk to longevity of life.
Free eating disorder treatment isn’t so readily available unless you are lucky enough to be part of a study. While support groups can help a person learn how to cope with eating disorders, treatment is what will stop the compulsions to continue behaviors. There are outpatient treatment programs that cost less than stay at eating disorder treatment centers.
Eating Disorder Treatment Plan Example
An eating disorder treatment plan example illustrates the goals that will promote recovery. This includes stabilizing the eating disorder symptoms.
Treatment will also include stabilizing any problems within the body caused by eating disorder behaviors. This will include restoring nutrition in the body and bringing weight back to a healthy level.
Part of the overall plan is to reduce and eliminate negative behaviors such as bingeing, purging or restricting food. It’s also important to help build self-esteem and improve body image of someone. This can include psychotherapy, talk therapy, family-based therapy, or cognitive therapy behavioral approaches.
11 Medications for Eating Disorders
Studies have recognized that anorexia and bulimia will often be accompanied with an anxiety disorder. So by alleviating the symptoms of anxiety, it can also help a person curb their eating disorder along with holistic therapy.
There is no specific medications for eating disorders. Medications that are FDA approved as antidepressants can be helpful for bulimia nervosa. Depression and anxiety are a common part of eating disorders.
Medications for eating disorders include Klonopin or Xanax. This helps improve a patients mood which reduces the compulsion to binge eat.
12 Eating Disorder Quizzes
There are a variety of eating disorder quiz options available. They help a person determine if they have an eating disorder and can determine the type also. If you suspect someone you love has an eating disorder, this might be a way of starting an intervention.
To find specific information, use a search engine and type in, “how do I know if I’m an anorexic quiz?” This will help the person find the right kind of quiz to determine a specific concern.
The Center for Eating and Dieting Disorders offers a free online eating disorder assessment pdf. It helps the medical industry in asking the right questions to someone suspect of an eating disorder.
Does My Child Have an Eating Disorder?
If you google, “does my child have an eating disorder quiz”, you’ll find a lot of information. These tests will help you determine what to look for. They are applicable for children starting at age 13.
How can I tell whether my child has a healthy weight? A BMI test is the measurement of body mass. It’s a basic tool that doctors have. The BMI is a more telling test than how much the child weighs.
If you have a real concern about your child and the eating disorder potential, you should take them to the doctor. They will diagnose them through a physical and questionnaires like the following:
- Eating Attitudes Test
- Bulimia Test
- Eating Disorder Test NHS
13 Eating Disorders Can Occur After Addiction Recovery
Abuse of substances by self-medication can morph into binge eating or purging. So if someone recovers from their opioid prescription medication addiction, they may turn to controlling what they eat.
The co-occurrence between substance addiction and eating disorders is common. Research has found that nearly 50% of people with eating disorders also abuse substances.
Eating disorders and substance abuse are both influenced by the same factors. It’s believed that many neurotransmitters share the same involvement when it comes to eating disorders and substance addiction.
During recovery of addiction, it’s important to not downplay the severity of dependence or the desperation to repress feelings.