Eating disorders affect your physical, emotional, psychological, and social functioning. Although there are many more, in this post we discuss the three most common eating disorders, which include binge eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia nervosa.
The highly qualified experts at Apex Medical Center recognize that in many instances, eating disorders co-occur with other issues, such as depression, anxiety, addiction, or other psychological or psychiatric disorders. We have also observed that a majority of the population doesn’t understand what an eating disorder actually is, nor what kinds of treatments are available.
More than 28 million Americans experience some kind of eating disorder during their lifetimes. People of all different races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and ages can have an eating disorder. Researchers believe that a combination of biological, sociocultural, and psychological factors influence whether or not a person develops an eating disorder.
Despite stereotypes, you can’t tell if a person has an eating disorder based on their body shape or size. People with eating disorders may be underweight, normal weight, or overweight.
Some of the common signs and symptoms of an eating disorder include:
- Weight loss
- Not eating in public
- Preoccupation with food, eating, calories, dieting, etc.
- Excuses to avoid meals
- Dressing in layers, either due to being cold or to disguise weight loss
- Frequently weighing
- Developing rituals around food
- Cooking but not eating
Because there are so many different types of eating disorders that affect people in different ways, there are many other signs and symptoms. The symptoms a person has depends on their age, particular eating disorder, and other factors.
Binge eating disorder
The most common type of eating disorder in the United States, binge eating disorder involves eating large amounts of food secretly. Usually a person with binge eating disorder eats when they’re not hungry and to the point of being uncomfortable.
A person may feel like they have no control during a binge eating episode. They may also feel shame, disgust, or guilt about binging.
Usually, a person with binge eating disorder doesn’t restrict calories, exercise excessively, or otherwise attempt to compensate for binges.
Treating binge eating disorder often involves some type of psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, or dialectical behavior therapy. Medications may help as well. A drug for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder called lisdexamfetamine dimesylate sold under the name Vyvanse has been approved by the FDA to treat moderate to severe binge eating disorder.
Anorexia nervosa can be fatal, so it’s a very serious condition. People who have it see themselves as being overweight, even if they are dangerously underweight. It has a very high risk of death, from complications associated with starvation and from suicide.
Two subtypes of anorexia nervosa have been identified: the restrictive type, where the person severely limits the types and amounts of food they eat, and the binge-purge type, where the person restricts the type and amount of food they consume and may have episodes of binging and purging. Binging and purging involves eating a large amount of food then purging either by vomiting or using laxatives.
Treatments for anorexia nervosa should be multi-disciplinary and usually involve psychotherapies, medications, and often medical intervention to stabilize metabolic function and other physical symptoms.
People who have bulimia nervosa are prone to eat a large amount of food within a specific time period. They may eat until it’s painful, and they may feel as if they have no control of what or how much they eat.
Following the binging, people with bulimia try to purge themselves of the food they ate, either to get rid of the calories they consumed or to ease the discomfort from eating so much. Purging may be done by inducing vomiting, taking laxatives, fasting, using enemas, taking diuretics, or exercising excessively.
Generally, treatments for bulimia nervosa are similar to those for anorexia nervosa. Regardless of the eating disorder, it’s important that the treatment be tailored to meet the needs of the person with the eating disorder. It often involves family counseling as well.
If you suspect that you, or someone you care about, has an eating disorder, schedule an appointment at one of the three convenient locations of Apex Medical Center in Las Vegas. Our experts are happy to discuss your situation and suggest your next steps.