Updated: Mar 15
Eating Disorders are serious conditions that are related to persistent eating behaviours which can adversely impact an individual’s health, emotions, and ability to function in different aspects of their life negatively. Two of the most common eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa respectively.
Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by an intense fear of gaining weight, an extremely low body weight, and a distorted body image. Individuals with anorexia nervosa typically weigh 15% or less of what is considered a healthy body weight for their height and age and have a strong desire to maintain this low weight. This disorder affects individuals of all ages but is most commonly diagnosed in adolescent girls and young women.
Anorexia nervosa is a complex and debilitating mental illness that involves a combination of psychological, social, and biological factors. The most common psychological factors associated with anorexia nervosa include low self-esteem, perfectionism, and a fear of losing control. Social factors that may contribute to the development of anorexia nervosa include the societal pressure to be thin and the idealization of thinness in the media. Additionally, genetic predisposition, changes in brain chemistry, and stress can also contribute to the development of this disorder.
The behaviors and thought patterns associated with anorexia nervosa can be harmful and life-threatening. Individuals with anorexia nervosa may restrict their calorie intake, engage in binge eating and purging behaviors, and engage in excessive exercise. They may also have a distorted body image and believe that they are overweight even when they are clearly underweight. In severe cases, anorexia nervosa can lead to malnutrition, muscle wasting, and organ damage, including heart problems and kidney failure.
Treatment for anorexia nervosa typically involves a combination of psychotherapy and medical care. Psychotherapy can help individuals with anorexia nervosa understand and change their negative thought patterns and behaviors, and learn to develop a healthier relationship with food and their body. Medical care may involve close monitoring of the individual's weight and nutrition status, as well as the administration of medications to manage any related physical or mental health conditions.
In order to support individuals with anorexia nervosa,
it is important to educate ourselves and others about this disorder. We can help by promoting positive body image and self-esteem, and by supporting those who may be struggling with this disorder. This can involve providing emotional support and encouragement, being patient and understanding, and encouraging individuals to seek professional help when needed.
Bulimia Nervosa is a mental health condition that affects people of all ages, races, and gender. It is characterized by binge eating, where a person eats a large amount of food in a short period, followed by activities like purging, where the individual tries to get rid of the food from their body. Purging can be done through self-induced vomiting, fasting, excessive exercise, or the use of laxatives or diuretics.
People with bulimia nervosa often have a distorted self-image and feel ashamed, guilty, or embarrassed about their eating habits. They may also have low self-esteem and be preoccupied with their weight and body image. This preoccupation with their appearance can lead to a cycle of binge eating and purging, which can cause serious health problems and even death.
The exact cause of bulimia nervosa is unknown, but a combination of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors may contribute to the development of the disorder. Some people with bulimia nervosa may have experienced childhood trauma, such as abuse or neglect, which may cause them to develop a negative self-image and seek comfort in food. Others may have a family history of eating disorders or a history of dieting.
The physical effects of bulimia nervosa can be severe and can include electrolyte imbalances, heart problems, damage to the digestive system, and damage to the teeth from excessive vomiting. Bulimia nervosa can also cause serious psychological problems, such as depression, anxiety, and self-harm. Diagnosing bulimia nervosa can be difficult, as many people with the condition are embarrassed or ashamed to seek help. However, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible, as the earlier the treatment is started, the better the chances of recovery.
Treatment for bulimia nervosa typically involves a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Psychotherapy can help a person with bulimia nervosa understand the underlying psychological causes of their disorder and develop healthy coping mechanisms. Medication, such as antidepressants, can also be prescribed to help manage the symptoms of depression and anxiety that often accompany bulimia nervosa.
In addition to therapy and medication, people with bulimia nervosa can also benefit from support groups and nutrition education. Support groups can provide a safe and supportive environment for people to share their experiences and connect with others who understand what they are going through. Nutrition education can help people with bulimia nervosa develop healthy eating habits and learn about the importance of balanced meals and regular physical activity.
In conclusion, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are serious and potentially life-threatening conditions that require prompt treatment. People with these conditions need support and understanding from their friends, family, and healthcare providers to help them recover and regain control over their eating habits. With the right treatment and support, they can overcome their disorder and lead healthy, fulfilling lives.