Eating Disorders – Symptoms and Treatments

Eating disorders plague millions of men and women throughout the world. Many people do not seek help and eventually die from their disease. Eating disorders are diseases. They afflict the mind, tricking the individual into thinking he or she needs to take the most drastic measures to change his or her appearance. The individual then takes action, be it binge eating, starving themselves, or purging.

One such eating disorder is anorexia. Individuals with anorexia starve themselves to obtain perfection. They believe that they are overweight, or have the fear of becoming obese, no matter what the actual weight and body size. Anorexia is commonly seen in adolescence and the onset of puberty. A person with anorexia may develop strange eating habits, such as refusal to eat in front of others, or serving large meals for others and not eating any of it. Anorexia is very frequent in sports or activities that require a certain weight range, such as dance, gymnastics and running. People with anorexia may stop eating altogether, exercise excessively and become obsessive about their weight.

Anorexics often have the feeling that calorie intake and weight is the only thing they can control in their lives. Many have very low self esteem and some even feel they do not deserve to eat. People with anorexia usually will not seek help for themselves because they fear being forced to eat and get fat. It is possible, however, for anorexia to be treated and cured.

Some common symptoms of anorexia are irritability, discomfort around food, refusal to eat in public, excuses to skip meals, fatigue, dizziness, unexplained weight loss. These are just a few of the symptoms and are by no means limited to them. Most anorexics will not display all the symptoms at once.

Another form of eating disorder is bulimia. An individual suffering from bulimia will binge, consuming sometimes as many as 20,000 calories at a time, then purge to rid themselves of the calories. Binge eating provides bulimics with a short lived feeling of comfort, then a feeling of self loathing afterwards. There are many ways a person can purge the food from their system. Some ways include vomiting, excessive exercise, inappropriate use of laxatives and diuretics.

Unlike anorexia, the symptoms of bulimia are much more difficult to detect. A person with bulimia can be of normal weight for their build, some are even overweight. Bulimics are also more likely to be aware of their problem and are more likely to seek help for themselves. The causes of bulimia are currently unknown. Some believe people with bulimia have low self esteem and a fear of becoming fat.

Some symptoms of bulimia are tooth decay, weight fluctuation, frequent bathroom visits after eating, secretive eating, vomiting, abuse of diuretics and laxatives. Other, more serious symptoms are an irregular menstrual cycle, stomach ulcers and irregular heart beat.

Binge eating is another serious eating disorder. Binge eating is consuming excessive amounts of food at one time, to the point of being painfully full. Unlike bulimia, people with this disorder do not purge after a binge. They simply lose control, consuming many calories at a time. People who binge are usually overweight, but it's not uncommon for people with normal weight to do this, as well. Binging is usually followed by feelings of guilt, worthlessness and depression.

Some common symptoms of binge eating are, but not limited to, secretive eating, avoidance of social situations where food will be present, loss of sexual desire, fluctuation in weight, low self esteem and depression. People with this disorder may experience mood swings and irritability.

Eating disorders can be treated through psychological counseling. When seeking counseling, it's important for the individual suffering from the disorder to express wants and needs to ensure the type of counseling is something they're comfortable with. In some more extreme cases, hospitalization may be necessary.