Child, Adolescent and Adult Psychiatry


Understanding Eating Disorders

Oftentimes, people dismiss eating disorders as a bad lifestyle choice; however, they are actually serious and, sometimes, fatal mental conditions that can cause severe disturbances in a person’s eating behavior. They are characterized by irregular eating habits and obsession about body weight or shape.

And contrary to popular belief, excessive eating can be a symptom of eating disorders as well as inadequate eating. Ultimately, both habits can eventually cause damage to an individual’s well-being. Sadly, most of the people who suffer from these conditions are not aware or in denial of having it. As a result, a lot of people with eating disorders are left untreated.

Risk Factors

Eating disorders are usually present in teenagers and young adults, but may also develop in children or adults. They affect both men and women; however, they most commonly affect women.

Researchers uncovered that these conditions might be caused by a complex interaction of various factors: genetic, biological, behavioral, psychological, and social, making it difficult to determine the root of these illnesses.

Nevertheless, brain imaging studies are being used to further understand eating disorders. Researches found differences in brain activity patterns in people suffering from eating disorder and healthy people. Ultimately, this can help provide answers about the condition and help develop better diagnosis and treatment options.

Common Types of Eating Disorders

  1. Anorexia Nervosa

    Individuals with anorexia constantly view themselves as overweight, regardless if they’re already alarmingly underweight. They obsessively monitor their weight, avoid various food types, and strictly restrict calorie intake. In extreme cases, some individuals even purposely starve themselves. 
  2. Bulimia Nervosa

    People suffering from bulimia have a tendency to binge eat repetitively. To compensate for this behavior, they come up with countermeasures like forced vomiting, excessive exercise, and relentless use of laxatives and diuretics. Their purging behavior are often kept secret because they often feel guilt and shame for their lack of self-control. 
  3. Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

    Persons suffering from Binge Eating Disorder frequently lose control of their eating habits. Unlike bulimia, however, they do not compensate nor make up for their habit of overeating. As a result, individuals with BED often suffer from obesity and cardiovascular ailments as well. 
  4. Purging Disorder

    This eating disorder is characterized by the use of purging methods to control their weight. The difference between purging disorder and bulimia is that people suffering from it do not have binge eating episodes. They are, however, extremely wary about gaining weight; hence, the purging.

Other Types of Eating Disorders

  • Pica

    This is a newly recognized eating disorder. Individuals suffering from Pica crave non-edible objects such as dirt, soil, hair, laundry detergent, etc.  
  • Rumination Disorder

    Rumination disorder, like Pica, is only recently recognized as a disorder. The condition is described as a person’s voluntary regurgitation of food they have previously swallowed. They, then, re-chew it to either swallow it or spit it out. 
  • Night Eating Syndrome

    People who suffer from this syndrome often eat excessively after being awakened from slumber.
  • Avoidant or Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

    This condition is commonly seen in children. It is described as loss of appetite or lack of interest in eating due to certain smell, taste, color, texture, or temperature. 
  • Eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS)

    This is a diagnosis given to certain eating disorders that cannot be categorized with any of the conditions listed above.



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