Understanding Eating Disorders. It is estimated that over 20 million women and 10 million men in the U.S. currently suffer from eating disorders.
The name of this serious and exceptionally dangerous health condition is misleading. This is because eating disorders are really a set of complex mental health disorders. Also, a Raleigh psychiatrist cautions that eating disorders are far more complex and challenging to treat effectively than by simply focusing on food intake.
Without the proper timely and intense intervention of both medical health specialists and highly trained mental health experts in more severe eating disorder cases, the patient is at a high risk of developing serious and even life-threatening health complications and some could actually die as a result.
Finding Hope for Those Impacted by an Eating Disorder
Fortunately, individuals that suffer from an eating disorder, and their worried family members and friends, can find hope for the future with the right treatment measures.
This begins by understanding eating disorders, and what causes them, and how caring psychotherapy and a strong support base can help.
What Are Eating Disorders Anyway?
An eating disorder diagnosis involves more than just an obsession with food or obsessing over what we eat. Rather, eating disorders are really a wider range and intensity of potentially serious psychological disorders that may first begin with an obsession about food/diet, body image, underlying self-esteem issues or perceived body shape imperfections.
Who Is More Likely To Develop an Eating Disorder?
Anyone can develop an eating disorder if the conditions are right. However, women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with these disorders. It should be noted that men also suffer from eating disorders, and they may be less prone to seek treatment making the number of men counted less accurate in general.
Psychiatrists warn that upwards of 14% of children and teens are apt to develop some form of an eating disorder according to recent research. Additionally, most women who are diagnosed with eating disorders are younger ranging from pre-teen to young adult years. That said, it is essential to mention that eating disorders can and do occur in people of all ages, sexes and backgrounds.
Common Symptoms of an Eating Disorder
People who suffer from one of several types of eating disorders can present with a number of differing symptoms. However, psychologists claim that the most severe symptoms noticed often have to do with a severe restriction or obsession with diet and food in general.
These severe eating disorder symptoms include:
- Obsessive restriction of food – calories, low-fat & so forth
- Vomiting or purging after meals
- Excessive exercise activity
- Use of laxatives to extreme amounts
- Avoiding food altogether
- Binge eating then purging
- Frequent vomiting and/or diarrhea from laxative use
- Use of diuretics and diet aids to extreme measures
- Also, serious physical health complications – changes in heart rate, lowered BP, mental changes and many more
- Extreme loss of weight
Underlying Negative Self-Esteem & Body Image Symptoms
Psychiatrists in Raleigh, Triangle Area, Briar Creek and other parts of North Carolina advise parents, teachers and other mental health providers to be on the lookout for underlying psychological problems having to do with poor self-body image and a lowered self-esteem level.
Also look for evidence of unhealed trauma, anxiety symptoms, depressed mood and extreme behaviors especially ones that affect food/beverage intake, overexercising and avoiding people and social situations previously enjoyed.
Possible Causes of Eating Disorders Explained
Furthermore, psychiatrists and other healthcare providers note a variety of different possible causes or triggers for the development of a true eating disorder.
These may include:
- Some personality traits – perfectionist, impulsive etc.
- Also, Possible brain structural and biological factors – body chemical or hormone imbalances
- Cultural background
- Societal pressures to be thin
- Untreated mental health and/or health issues – anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder etc.
A Proper Professional Mental Health Diagnosis is Key
There are a number of different types of eating disorders. Though some of the symptoms and treatments are similar. It is crucial to diagnose the eating disorder type to treat the problem in an appropriate manner.
Furthermore, with seeking medical treatment for any physical problems that could be related to an eating disorder, it is essential that the person undergo a full professional mental health evaluation. Also, we hope this helps you understanding eating disorders better and how we can help.