Eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorder, are serious medical problems that can have serious, even life-threatening, consequences. The disorders are characterized by extreme emotions, thoughts and behaviors surrounding weight and food.
Eating disorders can develop during any stage in life, but typically appear during the teen years or young adulthood. Classified as a medical illness, appropriate treatment can be highly effective for many of the specific types of eating disorders.
Eating disorders commonly occur with other conditions, such as anxiety disorders, substance abuse or depression. It is often influenced by a variety of factors. Though the exact cause of eating disorders is unknown, it is generally believed a combination of biological, psychological and/or environmental abnormalities contribute to the development of these illnesses.
A man or woman suffering from an eating disorder may reveal several signs and symptoms, some which are:
- Chronic dieting despite being hazardously underweight
- Constant weight fluctuations
- Obsession with calories and fat contents of food
- Engaging in ritualistic eating patterns, such as cutting food into tiny pieces, eating alone, and/or hiding food;
- Continued fixation with food, recipes, or cooking; the individual may cook intricate meals for others but refrain from eating;
- Depression or lethargy;
- Avoidance of social functions, family and friends. May become isolated and withdrawn; and
- Switching between periods of overeating and fasting
Because of the severity and complexities of these conditions, a comprehensive and professional treatment team specializing in eating disorders is often fundamental in establishing healing and recovery.
Sources: National Eating Disorder Association and Eating Disorder Hope.
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