Most people think of anorexia or bulimia when they hear the term ‘eating disorder’, and when asked which is the most common out of all eating disorders, it is likely that the majority would answer anorexia. However, in reality, binge eating disorder affects more people than anorexia and bulimia combined. As increasingly more research is conducted into the various forms of eating disorder, it has been found that more people struggle with binge eating disorder than any other type. But this aside, what are the various types of eating disorder and what effects do they have on sufferers? We take a brief look below.
Probably the most well-known of all eating disorders, if not the most common, is anorexia – or anorexia nervosa as it is medically known. This is a recognised mental health condition where those affected deliberately keep their body weight as low as possible by restricting food or exercising excessively. It is also common for anorexia sufferers to purge themselves by vomiting or using laxatives.
Individuals with anorexia will usually see themselves as overweight, despite others believing them to be severely underweight. Sufferers will challenge anyone who suggests they should gain weight. Many can go for prolonged periods without loved ones realising what is happening because they become adept at hiding their eating habits and their shrinking body with oversized clothing. It is often the case that family members and friends do not realise their loved one has a serious problem until it has reached the later stages.
Anorexia is a serious mental health problem and one that needs to be treated by professionals. Those affected often suffer with poor health, and if the condition is left untreated, it can be fatal.
Bulimia nervosa is another eating disorder that is well known by most people. The difference between bulimia and anorexia is that bulimia sufferers will eat large quantities of food before purging themselves through laxatives or vomiting. It can be very difficult to recognise bulimia because the body weight of the individual tends to stay quite stable. Self-harming and low self-esteem are common among those with bulimia.
The side effects of this illness include various health problems such as abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, fatigue, and irregular periods in female sufferers. Those who are constantly forcing themselves to vomit to purge themselves of the food they have eaten will usually suffer with teeth problems from the stomach acid. Moreover, using laxatives to rid the body of excess calories can lead to eventual heart problems.
Binge Eating Disorder
If you had ever wondered which eating disorder is most common before reading this article, you might never have even considered binge eating disorder (BED). However, the reality is that this is a serious illness that affects millions of people around the world. Those who suffer with BED will consume large quantities of food over a very short period of time but unlike bulimia sufferers, they will not purge themselves. Many will continue to eat when they are full, and often eat even when they are not hungry.
As you might imagine, those with BED are typically overweight or even obese, which can lead to a whole host of health problems including high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. As with other types of eating disorders, BED sufferers usually have low self-esteem while many suffer with anxiety or depression.
Recognising Eating Disorders
The above are the most common types of eating disorders, but there are many others such as disordered eating, emotional eating disorder and Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS). There are many misconceptions surrounding eating disorders, which can make it difficult for loved ones or even the individuals themselves to recognise that a problem exists.
For example, most assume that eating disorders only affect teenage girls, but this is not the case. Eating disorders affect both girls and boys, men and women and even children under the age of ten. It is also a mental health illness that affects individuals from all races, cultures, religions, and backgrounds; it does not discriminate.
If you are worried that you or someone you love has an eating disorder, it is important to get help as soon as possible. Spotting the warning signs is important as this means you can get help before the condition spirals out of control. Nevertheless, as it is a complex illness, it can be difficult for many to appreciate what is actually occurring. There are a number of physical and psychological warning signs to look out for though.
- Frequent weight changes or rapid weight gain or loss
- Irregular sleeping patterns and fatigue
- Loss of energy or lethargy
- Feeling cold, even in warm weather
- Fainting or dizziness
- Loss of libido in men
- Change in menstruation in girls and women
- Damage to teeth or swelling of the cheeks and jaw from constant vomiting.
- Being preoccupied with body shape and image
- Being anxious or irritable at meal times
- Having a distorted body image
- Eating to deal with various life situations such as boredom, loneliness, or stress
- Losing control around food.
Help for Eating Disorders
It is important to remember that eating disorders are recognised as mental health problems and, as such, treatment is available from various organisations. Charities, local support groups, and the NHS offer treatment programmes for those suffering with various eating disorders. There are also countless private clinics where residential programmes are available.
If you or someone you love is suffering with an eating disorder, it is imperative that you get help right now. Call us here at Addiction Helper today and we can put you in touch with a suitable provider based on your needs. We provide helpful information and advice to individuals and their families as well as free assessments and referrals to treatment providers across the UK and beyond.
Ignoring an eating disorder is never advised. It will not go away by itself and without treatment the situation will get undoubtedly worse. We therefore urge you to contact us today so that we can help you get your life back on track. By reaching out for help now, you can learn how to develop a healthy attitude to food and learn to love yourself once more. Call today for more information.