According to the National Eating Disorders Association, “eating disorders are serious emotional and physical problems that can have life-threatening consequences for both females and males.” The trouble with getting treatment for sufferers is that they go to a lot of trouble to hide or disguise their symptoms and frequently deny that they have any problem – because that is what they believe.
Here are 3 different types of eating disorders.
- Bulimia Nervosa – This is characterised by episodes of binge eating in between using various ways and means to control eating or losing weight. The latter may consist of deliberately vomiting, using laxatives, fasting or doing excessive exercise. This becomes a compulsive cycle that makes the person will feel out of control and this can lead to feelings of shame, self-disgust and guilt. They will also have low self-esteem. While a person with BN does not necessarily lose weight, their weight can vary as they gain some and then lose some, depending on what stage the cycle is at and how long it lasts for. While this sounds like BN is not serious, it can indeed cause many serious health problems from chronic sore throat and indigestion through to ulcers, osteoporosis, infertility and risk of heart failure.
- Anorexia Nervosa – With this form of eating disorder there is no binge eating. Instead, food is constantly restricted while the person is totally occupied with their body image, imagining that they are too fat or are gaining weight even though they are really thin. They may restrict their food intake in various ways such as only eating from one type or one colour of food or simply skipping meals. Some may have an Anorexia sub-type where they purge or vomit or use laxatives similar to the BN group. Most have rapid weight loss, feel dizzy or faint, feel cold, tired and lethargic, look pale and have sunken eyes. Psychological signs include mealtime anxiety, intense fear of weight gain, dissatisfaction with their body image and being over sensitive to remarks about weight. They suffer from depression and anxiety. Risks start with anaemia, escalate to compromised immune system, kidney failure, heart problems and death, to name just a few.
- Binge Eating Disorder – is similar to BN in only one respect and that is the sufferers partake in binge eating. They eat a great deal in a short time, but they don’t vomit, purge or otherwise try to get rid of the food they eat. This means they gain weight and soon become obese. Binge eating is linked to feelings of being out of control, shame and self-disgust. They may self-harm or attempt suicide. Sufferers are likely to experience osteoarthritis, chronic kidney problems or failure and extremely high blood pressure leading to heart attack or stroke.