About eating disorders
Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are two most common eating disorders. They are more common in women but cases of male eating disorders are becoming more widely reported every year too. It is estimated that in the United States one or two out of every 1000 teenage girls and boys suffers from some for of eating disorder.
The main characteristic of all eating disorders is a disrupted self-image regarding the body, obsessive preoccupation with weight and body features and abnormal consideration of food.
It is not completely clear what exactly causes eating disorders, just as it is usually hard to pinpoint the exact causes of any other psychological disorder. It is believed that the cause is a combination of psychological, genetic, social and family factors.
Eating disorders are a very serious matter and as such they require very serious approach. They can be overcome through treatment, but it usually takes some time and a lot of dedication, patience and persistence. When it comes to identifying and treating eating disorders, the close circle of friends and family members plays the crucial role.
Eating disorder behaviors
Behaviors that are typical for different eating disorders have a few things in common. All of them involve an obsessive preoccupation with the self-image, with weight in particular. People who suffer from anorexia, due to the distorted self-image, strive to maintain an unhealthy low body weight. They do so by dieting, purging, using ;laxatives, exercising compulsively, fasting, avoiding meals, hiding food in unusual places. One curious characteristic of anorexia sufferers is that they often enjoy preparing food for other and they usually enjoy doing so.
Bulimia, on the other hand, is mainly characterized by cycles of binge eating and purging. While bulimia sufferers may experience fluctuations in body weight, they rarely reach very low body weight as anorexics do. However, bulimia, much like anorexia, involves compulsive exercising and purging through self-induced vomiting and the use of laxatives.
People suffering from eating disorders go to great lengths when it comes to hiding their habits from others, especially from friends and family. Generally, everything they do regarding the food and purging is done in secrecy, which is why it is sometimes hard to notice the problem until it becomes evident due to the damage it caused to both physical and mental health. If eating disorders go unnoticed for a long time, the sufferer eventually starts experiencing blood pressure problems, hair loss, anemia, confusion, forgetfulness, tooth decay, gastrointestinal problems, loss of menstrual periods and many other.