Different Types of Eating Disorders
The main disorders we will be looking at are Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating Disorder.
Anorexia, or Anorexia Nervosa, affects people of any gender or age and typically refers to the restricting of food intake to keep weight low. Bulimia, or Bulimia Nervosa, describes a pattern of consuming large amounts of food (binge eating), and then getting rid of it by taking laxatives, excessive exercise, or vomiting. Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is compulsive overeating accompanied by feeling out of control, like you are unable to stop eating.
Eating disorders, like most mental illnesses, don’t discriminate. These conditions affect all kinds of people with various psychological, biological, and cultural backgrounds. This implies that two people struggling with same eating disorder are likely to have two very different experiences. That being said, specialists in recent years have gained deeper understanding into the nature of eating disorders so as to pinpoint similarities and risk factors that can help with early intervention.
Risk factors for eating disorders fall within a biological, psychological, and sociocultural range. Biological risk factors include having a close relative – like a parent or sibling – who has an eating disorder or a close relative with a mental health condition. The psychological aspect of risk involves negative feelings about your body, rigid need for control, perfectionism, and pre-existing anxiety disorder. The sociocultural risk factors play a huge role in that they provide the environment in which an individual forms their personality and identity.
If there exists a stigma around weight it can lead to bullying and teasing, because low weight is valued above all. Limited social support may leave someone feeling lonely and isolated, opening the way for negative feelings to compound and mental health issues to develop. In fact, the root to this problem sprouts from a fertile bed of not feeling good about yourself or the way you look, commonly referred to as Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a mental illness that changes an individual’s perception of their body. In a previous post we talked about how this negative body image can impact the quality of life and wellbeing of an individual, but more important is the influence BDD has on eating disorders.
Studies have found that people with eating disorders usually also have Body Dysmorphic Disorder, engaging in extreme behaviours like dieting and exercise to change their physical appearance. On the contrary, people with BDD don’t necessarily go on to develop an eating disorder. Diets are common, yes, but the obsession is not with food or weight as is the case with eating disorders.