Eating disorders are included in the group of mental disorders. For this reason, they require comprehensive treatment. Before starting it, careful diagnosis is necessary to identify the causes of the resulting disorders.
In today’s world, eating disorders are increasingly common, despite this, our knowledge in this area is still scarce and quite stereotypical. It is used to say that eating disorders affect only young women, especially teenage girls, and at a certain stage of life disturbing symptoms related to food intake are treated as a temporary fad. Meanwhile, we should be aware that eating disorders can affect both women and men, and regardless of age, and so can older people.
Eating disorders are not a lifestyle or a type of diet based on one’s beliefs, as is the case with veganism, for example. Behavioral conditions characterized by persistent eating disorders and accompanying distressing emotions and thoughts not only affect the sufferer’s well-being and physical state, but also his or her mental sphere and life as a whole. The deep-rooted causes of the problem make it very difficult for the sufferer to recover, especially without specialized psychological or psychiatric help.
Among the most common eating disorders are anorexia and bulimia.
Anorexia is also referred to as mental anorexia nervosa. People with anorexia are characterized by very low body weight, a distorted perception of their own weight and a strong fear of getting fat. They make almost extreme efforts to maintain a low weight. To this end, they may spend many hours exercising and analyzing food charts to make sure they are not taking in too many calories. They may also take laxatives and diet pills.
Bulimia (mental gluttony) is characterized by episodes of overeating and forced laxation of the stomach. During such episodes, the sufferer takes in huge amounts of food in a short period of time, which is associated with feelings of guilt and shame, and further with loss of control, which leads to forced vomiting and taking laxatives. Bulimia patients also feel fear of gaining weight and have a distorted image of their own body.
No single cause can be identified that leads to the onset of eating disorders. Disturbing behavior and its genesis is an individual issue. Various factors usually play a role, including biological and genetic factors, as well as socio-cultural norms.
Researchers indicate that eating disorders often occur as a result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, in which case biological factors are to blame. Family history or the presence of other mental disorders, such as anxiety, are also risk factors. Often, however, it is a difficult life situation and failure to cope with everyday problems that lead to eating disorders. Living under constant stress, low self-esteem and a sense of increasing pressure from society mean that we don’t know how to deal with our own emotions, how to talk about them and how to control them. Eating disorders can therefore often result from unworked emotional problems.
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