Eating Disorders are Serious Mental Issues!
Kara Lo, HK BioTek Nutritionist Intern
Eating disorders are related to malnutrition, and these are serious mental health problems. Eating disorders are medical conditions and not a lifestyle choice. Patients’ thoughts about food affect their eating behaviors, so do the ability to get proper nutrition. Eating disorders are all about mental health problems affecting physical health.
What are the types of eating disorders?
Binge-eating. People cannot control themselves and keep eating even after they are full or not hungry. They will stop only until they feel very uncomfortable. Followed by having feelings of guilt, shame, and distress. Eating too much frequently leads to weight gain and obesity. It is the most common eating disorder.
Bulimia nervosa. It is a combination of binge-eating and purging. Patients make themselves throw up or using laxatives. They may also over-exercise or fast, so they can be underweight, normal weight, or overweight.
Anorexia nervosa. Patients will avoid food by severely restricting food intake. They may see themselves as overweight, even when they are dangerously underweight. It is the least common eating disorder, but the most serious one. The death rate is the highest, some people die from starvation or suicide.
What are the causes of eating disorders?
The exact cause is unknown, but we believe a complex interaction is involved, such as genetic, biological, behavioral, psychological, and social factors.
Who is at risk?
Any individual can develop an eating disorder, but teenagers and young women are more prone to having it. Some people also develop other mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, or problems with substance use.
What are the treatments for eating disorders?
Every patient has a special treatment plan planned for them. A team of specialists will help, including doctors, nurses, nutritionists, and therapists.
Psychotherapy. Individual therapy includes cognitive-behavioral therapies that help you to identify and change the negative thoughts towards eating.
Medical care and monitoring.
Nutrition counseling. It helps you to eat healthily and to reach and maintain a healthy weight and eating behaviors.
Medicines. Antidepressants, anti-psychotics, or mood stabilizers can help with depression and anxiety symptoms.
However, some people with serious eating disorders need hospitalization or residential treatment program that includes housing and treatment services. Eating disorders are mental health problems, how we think about food will definitely affect our health conditions.