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What Is An Eating Disorder?

Eating disorders are potentially deadly conditions that are associated with psychologically unhealthy eating habits. They may begin with an obsession with healthy eating and food. The person might focus on body weight or body image. In extreme cases, eating disorders can potentially lead to severe health issues and, as stated above, cause death. Let’s learn about the causes of eating disorders and what you can do to cope.

Many factors cause an eating disorder. Certain personality traits can make a person predisposed to eating disorders such as perfectionism or anxiety. People who have eating disorders can have comorbid conditions, such as depression and anxiety. Many individuals who have an eating disorder suffer from trauma or have observed a loved one struggling with unhealthy eating habits, and these are risk factors. People with eating disorders like people with anxiety and depression have issues with hormones: serotonin and dopamine. There are many different types of eating disorders, and they go beyond what you may have heard of, including anorexia and bulimia. Here are some other sorts of eating disorders and the treatment methods for them.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa typically develops during the teenage years. People who have anorexia have a distorted view of their bodies. They believe that they are a larger size than they are. Some people with anorexia are dangerously underweight, while other people aren’t necessarily underweight, but they restrict food. Some of the symptoms of anorexia include counting calories, food restriction, fear of gaining weight, avoidance of behaviors that would cause weight gain, a fixation on being thin and maintaining a particular weight, a high focus on body image, and the correlation between that and confidence or self-esteem, and distorted image of their body or body dysmorphic disorder. People with anorexia often have comorbid conditions such as anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). OCD and anorexia overlap in some ways. For example, those who have the condition of anorexia nervosa compulsively count their calories sometimes and may hoard food in their rooms. People with anorexia can benefit from behavioral therapy and CBD (cognitive behavioral therapy) or DBT (dialectical behavior therapy).


Bulimia nervosa is another eating disorder that is well documented, and people tend to know about it in the community. Like anorexia, it tends to surface in either preteen or adolescent years, but it could present at a younger age. Those with bulimia binge eat or eat a lot of food quickly and then purge it, whether by vomiting, through laxatives, or by other means, and often, this is usually done in secret. Binging can happen with any sort of food, but the methods people use in terms of purging include diuretics, enemas, over-exercising, vomiting, or intentional fasting. Here are the symptoms of bulimia: repeated episodes of binging and feeling out of control, self-image or self-esteem that is correlated to their body shape or weight, an intense fear of putting on weight or having a “normal” size or weight, and repeated episodes of purging to prevent gaining weight. Bulimia can also result in severe health risks such as tooth decay, gut irritation or gastrointestinal problems, extreme dehydration, and acid reflux. Bulimia can also lead to dangerously low electrolyte levels and low potassium, calcium, and sodium levels. In extreme cases, bulimia can lead to heart failure, heart attack, or stroke.


Pica is a less commonly known eating disorder in which people eat things that are not food. Individuals that have pica may eat items such as dirt, soap or laundry detergent, cloth, rocks, or ice. Pica happens in children, adolescents, and adulthood. Mostly, we see pica manifest in young people such as children, but there are adults that do have it. Pica is a dangerous eating disorder because the complications include injury to the stomach, a risk of being poisoned, and recurrent infections. In some cases, pica can lead to fatalities. It’s crucial to get treatment for this eating disorder, and it’s especially urgent if the person affected is a child because it could lead to dire consequences.

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

ARFID tends to develop during infancy or in early childhood, but if left untreated, it can continue into adulthood. It affects people of all genders and what it indicates is that the person is not interested in eating and has a particular aversion to certain foods, textures, or colors. The symptoms of ARFID include abnormal eating habits that interfere with daily functioning, nutritional deficiencies which can result in high reliance on vitamins or supplements or even tube feeding, avoidance of particular foods and restriction of them, and not eating the “right” foods. ARFID is a complex eating disorder to get treatment for, but it’s imperative that the person do so because left untreated, it could result in serious health consequences.

Getting Help

There are many different types of eating disorders, but it’s crucial to get help for these conditions. Eating disorders can be treated in therapy with dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or sometimes group therapy, which can be helpful. In some cases, hospitalization or inpatient programming is required if a person is dangerously sick with an eating disorder. You can learn more about eating disorders on Mind Diagnostics. It’s important to remember that you can get help for yourself or a loved one.

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