By Miranda Botti
There are at least three different types of eating disorders, specifically anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder. These typically affect young women in their teenage years but can also present in childhood or adulthood in both men and women. Eating disorders are a mental illness that can potentially lead to serious physical issues that may require medical attention. Anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder are often comorbid with depression, anxiety, and/or substance abuse and are life-threatening disorders that require clinical attention. Researchers have not yet found any one cause for any of these specific disorders but have found an interaction between genetic, psychological, biological, and social factors that all contribute to the onset of an eating disorder.
Anorexia nervosa is characterized by an intense fear of weight gain and an extremely limited intake of certain foods causing the individual to be of tremendously low body weight. Those afflicted with anorexia possess a distorted body image, often seeing themselves as overweight. Some individuals with anorexia will also purge the little food they allow themselves to eat through self-induced vomiting, extreme exercise, or abuse of laxatives. Anorexia nervosa often has harmful physical side effects such as mild anemia, low internal body temperature, and loss off menstrual cycles in women and girls.
Bulimia nervosa involves intense binge-eating followed by purging behavior, often through self-induced vomiting, extreme exercising, or the use of laxative abuse. Those afflicted feel they have no control over these behaviors. A bulimic is usually of healthy body weight or slightly over-weight and has an intense fear of weight gain. Since one typically feels intense guilt and shame for their actions and they purge in secret. Physical symptoms that arise as a result of induced vomiting are tooth decay, gastrointestinal problems, inflamed esophagus, and severe dehydration.
Binge-eating disorder is characterized by extreme binge-eating, over which the afflicted feels to have no control. Unlike bulimia, binge-eating episodes are not followed by purging behavior. Those suffering are often overweight or obese and feel intense distress, guilt, and/or shame over their binge-eating and body image. This often leads to more binge-eating behavior as a method of coping with negative emotions. Physical side-effects include high blood pressure and risk for cardiovascular disease.
Treatment for these three eating disorders include psychotherapy (individual, group, and/or family), and/or medication to treat any co-occurring depression, anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder. Nutrition counseling may be helpful. Medical treatment may also be necessary for any of the physical side-effects caused by any of these maladaptive eating behaviors.
If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.