How to Deal with Eating disorders

What are Eating Disorders?

According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th Edition), eating disorders are described as a ‘persistent disturbance of eating-related behaviour’.  Eating disorder affects the consumption & absorption of food which can significantly harm the physical health, the ability to function in the day-to-day life as well as the social interaction or relationship with other people. 

In other words, eating disorder is NOT good for our health and mental well-being.

In America, there are at least 30 million individuals of all ages and gender who suffer from an eating disorder. It alarming that eating disorders have one of the highest mortality rates when compared to other mental disorders. To make matters worse, people who suffer from eating disorders are often ashamed of their eating habits and reluctant to reveal to others thereby resulting in them not getting access to the required help or treatment.

What are the Signs of Eating Disorders?

  • Spending a lot of time thinking or talking about food, weight and body image
  • Frequently skipping meals or making excuses not to eat
  • Avoiding food that they used to enjoy
  • Eating large quantity of food than what is considered normal
  • Exercising excessively
  • Engaging in bingeing, purging or laxative use
  • Fear of gaining weight or become fat
  • Hiding food and secretly eating to reduce suspicion of others
  • Significant weight loss with a BMI below 18.5

Click to watch Psych2Go video on Types of Eating Disorders

What are the common types of Eating Disorders?

The 3 common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder.

1. Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa is characterised by significant low body weight due to restriction of energy intake.  This is due to intense fear of weight gain or becoming fat or distorted perception of body weight or shape.  The methods used by these individuals to lose weight can be through dieting, fasting or excessive exercising.  Others may engage in self-induced vomiting, misuse of diuretics, enemas or laxatives.  Individuals with anorexia nervosa who engage in starvation or merging behaviours may result in potentially life-threatening medical condition.

2. Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia is characterised by recurrent episodes of binge eating.  They overeat in a discrete period of time, have a sense of lack of control over eating, engage in behaviours that compensate for overeating (such as purging, misuse of laxatives or diuretics, fasting or excessive exercising) or evaluating themselves based on their own body shape and weight.  Individuals with bulimia are usually overweight or even normal weight.

3. Binge Eating Disorder

The main characteristic of binge eating disorder is the recurrent episodes of binges which occurs at least once a week for 3 months.  Those who have binge eating disorders may eat much more rapidly than normal, over eat until feeling uncomfortably full, eating large amounts even when not hungry, eating alone due to feelings of embarrassment to be seen eating in public, guilt or disgusted feeling after eating.  The difference between binge eating and bulimia is that binge eating is NOT associated with the recurrent use of inappropriate compensatory behaviour.

Treatments for Eating disorders

The journey to recovery may be long and difficult but with the right resources and effective treatment, individuals are able to get the necessary help they need. Those with eating disorders usually work with a multidisciplinary team that includes (but not limited to) a doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist, dietician and/or social worker. As a general rule, treatment usually includes nutrition education and psychotherapy (family-based intervention, individual or group therapy). Medication is only prescribed if other mental disorders are present during the course of the eating disorder (such as anxiety or depression).

Click to watch Kati Morton video on How to help Someone with an Eating Disorder

What if I suspect myself having an Eating Disorder?

1. Talk to someone whom you trust about your condition such as your parents, your partner, your colleagues or good friends so that they understand what you are currently going through and therefore able to help you along the way

2. Reach out to chat with a mental health professional as soon as possible as early intervention increases the chance of a full recovery

Disclaimer. TELEME blog posts contains general information about health conditions and treatments. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. 

If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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