What is an eating disorder?
Eating disorders are abnormal patterns of eating and exercising that severely interfere with your everyday life.
For example, you might eat extremely small amounts of food or eat in an uncontrolled way.
You might also be worried about food, body weight and appearance.
The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) is another eating disorder that occurs mainly in children.
All eating disorders can occur in both males and females of any age.
With treatment, most people with an eating disorder make a good recovery.
What causes eating disorders?
There isn't just one simple reason why eating disorders occur.
Researchers think that eating disorders happen because of a combination of factors. These factors can be biological, genetic, psychological, social or cultural.
Generally, girls/women are at higher risk of developing an eating disorder than boys/men.
Some other things that may make you more at risk of developing an eating disorder are:
- having feelings of low self-esteem or worthlessness
- living in a western culture in which being thin is considered the ideal body shape
- living in an urban area
- participating in activities in which body image is a concern
- having a history of strict dieting and body dissatisfaction
- having lived in an environment in which leanness or obesity has been a concern
- experiencing depression or loneliness
- being a perfectionist, or impulsive, or having difficulty managing emotions
- migrating from a developing country to a western culture
- experiencing stressful life changes
- Having experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse
Symptoms of eating disorders
These are some of the early symptoms of eating disorders:
- you are afraid of putting on weight, or you weigh yourself all the time
- you think about food all the time, or you feel anxious at meal times
- you’ve started restricting how much food you eat
- you overeat uncontrollably
- you feel out of control around food
- you hoard food to binge on later
- you make yourself vomit after eating
- you take laxatives to make you lose weight
- you worry too much about how you look
- you check yourself in the mirror constantly
- you don’t like eating around other people
- you have started to lie about what you eat or how much you eat
- you exercise too much
- you feel cold all the time, weak or lightheaded
- for girls and women, your periods have stopped, or have not begun by age 16
As well as these symptoms, you may feel bad about yourself or that you are not good enough, feel sad, anxious or irritable, or not feel like spending time or getting involved in activities with other people.
Recovery from eating disorders
With treatment, most people with an eating disorder make a good recovery, so it is important to have a positive attitude to your own recovery journey.
At least 50% of people with bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder fully recover with treatment. It can take some time to get better.
It is important to establish an ongoing relationship with a health professional.
How are eating disorders treated?
Treatment for eating disorders involves healthy eating together with medical care and psychological treatment. Some people might also be prescribed medications.
Our healthcare team will work with you to decide which combination of treatments is right for you.
At Hellodoc, we have Psychiatrists and Psychologists who can assess, diagnose, and manage Eating disorder and related conditions.
If you and your loved ones need assessment, please contact us after obtaining a referral from your GP.
The information on this website is NOT a substitute for proper diagnosis, treatment or the provision of advice by an appropriate health professional. Please speak to your doctor for advice about your situation. HelloDoc is not liable for any consequences arising from relying on this information.