Eating Disorders (Anorexia, Bulimia, Obesity)

Eating disorders in children and teens are very common and induces very dangerous health issues. Eating disorders are of three types:

  • Anorexia- It is a condition in which the child denies to eat adequate food due to an obsessive desire to lose weight. It is also considered to be a mood disorder. It is a serious mental condition that causes severe medical complications. Apart from denying food, people with anorexia may even have obsession with exercise.
  • Bulimia- Another kind of emotional disorder in which the patient has an obsessive desire for weight loss. People with bulimia eats heavily and then preaches fasting or go for self-induced vomiting.
  • Binge eating- People with binge eating may consume a large quantity of food in a short period of time. They may not try to purge or vomit the food after having.
  • Obesity– Obesity is a condition characterized by excess body fat. Obesity can occur as a result of unhealthy eating habits.

Eating disorders usually begin during early adulthood or adolescence. They may even develop during childhood. Females are at more risk for developing eating disorders. A number of factors may induce eating disorders. It can be biological, social or behavioral factors or a combination of all these. Individuals  who are more conscious about their image in the society may get eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia. Eating disorder can be even connected with various factors such as:

  • Low self-esteem.
  • Distress.
  • Fear of becoming overweight.
  • Feelings of helplessness

Other psychiatric problems such as anxiety disorder, substance abuse, depression, etc., may also co-exist with eating disorders.
It is very complex to identify and diagnose eating disorders in children and adolescents. The treatment options will vary according to different conditions.

Anorexia

The main characteristics of this condition are:

  • Distorted body image
  • The patients view themselves as heavy
  • Obsession with being thin

Refuses maintaining a minimally normal weight
Studies say that, around 1 among 25 girls and women will face anorexia at any point in their lifetime. They may not agree with the fact that, they have an eating disorder. Some of the common symptoms of anorexia are:

  • Depression, anxiety, perfectionism, highly self-critical.
  • Following diet unnecessarily.
  • Exercise excessively.
  • Irregular menstruation .
  • Rapid weight loss.
  • Unusual interest in food.
  • Strange eating habits.

Anorexia may induce other serious health issues such as:

  • Thinning of bones.
  • Sensitivity to cold.
  • Irregular heartbeat.
  • Damage to major organs.
  • Lowered body temperature, breathing rates, pulse and blood pressure.

Around ¾ of the anorexia conditions are very severe. The treatment plan for anorexia will be aiming at bringing the individual to the normal eating habits and weight. Sometimes, the patients may need to be hospitalized for weeks. Long-term treatments may be required to address the psychological issues. Some of the common treatments include:

  • Psychotherapy.
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Antidepressant medication.
  • Support drugs.

Bulimia

People with bulimia also feel unhappy about their body image. They may repeatedly eat too much food in a short span of time. Other symptoms of bulimia include:

  • Anxiety
  • Unusual interest in food
  • Mood swings
  • Bingeing on large amounts of food
  • Excessive exercise
  • Vomiting after eating
  • Overemphasis on physical appearance etc.

The treatments will be focused on breaking the binge-and purge cycle. Some of the common treatment options include:

  • Antidepressants medication
  • Behavior modification
  • Nutritional counselling
  • Therapy

Binge eating

The main characteristics of binge eating include:

  • Chronic, out-of-control eating of large amounts in a short time
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Anger, worry, stress and sadness
  • Depression

Binge eating causes overweight, whereby causing other health issues such as:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • type 2 diabetes and
  • High cholesterol

Most common treatments for binge eating include behavioral therapy, medications and psychotherapy.