In general eating disorders involve various disturbances in eating behavior, such as a significant reduction in food intake or a significant increase in the quantity and frequency of food intake, accompanied by a wide range of emotional distress and psychological symptoms. Eating disorders are complex as they can involve emotional, psychological, social and physiological issues and affect a person internally and in their relationships with others. Although eating disorders tend to be exhibited more among women, recent research indicate that men also struggle with eating disorders and the rate of eating disorders are increasing among them. The various forms of eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and night eating disorder. The following are a brief description of various forms of eating disorders.
Anorexia Nervosa is a serious type of eating disorder that sometimes can become life threatening. It is characterized by a strong desire and drive for thinness, an intense fear of weight or fat gain to the point that the person may be restricting all types of food intake and/or starving themselves for long periods. Anorexia is commonly accompanied by emotional difficulties, severe body image and self-image disturbances, mood disorders, unrealistic view of one’s body shape and function, a drive for perfection and disruption of menstrual cycle in women and reduced sexual drive in men. Anorexia Nervosa can be manifested as restrictive type or as binge eating/purging type. It is very important to seek psychological help when these behavioral and/or psychological symptoms appear and address the underlying emotional issues.
Bulimia Nervosa is a serious type of eating disorder that sometimes can become life threatening. Bulimia Nervosa can be manifested as purging or non-purging types. It is characterized by an underlying obsession with food, weight and body image concerns which drive an individual to engage in obsessive-compulsive cycles of over-eating or binge eating followed by compensatory thoughts and behaviors to undo the over-eating and prevent weight gain. The compensatory attempts may involve various forms of purging behaviors such as self-induced vomiting, abuse of laxatives, diuretics, and enemas. Non-purging forms of compensatory behaviors can also occur which may include excessive dieting/fasting and/or exercising. Such emotional and behavioral cycles are characterized by an extreme sense of lack of control over one’s thoughts, emotions and behaviors. They can become extremely emotionally distressing for the person who is struggling with bulimia and are commonly accompanied by depression or other types of mood disorders, self-hatred, feelings of guilt, shame and self-devaluation. It is very important to seek psychological help when these behavioral and/or psychological symptoms appear and address the underlying emotional issues.
The phenomenon of binge eating has been referred to in various ways in the psychological literature. As a particular form of eating disorder, binge eating disorder was first described in the 1950s as a particular form of overeating. Traditional psychoanalysis coined the term compulsive overeating and other terms such as emotional eating or emotional over-eating also commonly refer to the same phenomenon. Psychologically, an episode of binge eating is characterized by eating a larger than usual quantity of food that most people on average will consume in a 2 hour period as accompanied by a sense of lack of control over eating during this period. Usually individuals who struggle with binge eating disorder will experience a sense of loss of control and/or lack of awareness over what they eat during binge eating episodes. It is very important to seek psychological help when these behavioral and/or psychological symptoms appear and address the underlying emotional issues.