Eating disorders are complex mental health conditions that may carry substantial emotional and physical repercussions.
People from all walks of life, regardless of age or gender, can grapple with eating concerns. Eating disorders arise from a number of different factors including situational stressors, social pressures and individual vulnerability through personality factors and hereditary factors. Eating habits can become obsessions if left untreated, and can be very harmful. It’s important to note that the appearance of an individual does not determine whether they have an eating disorder. Eating disorders are not only harmful and distressing to the individual, the affects also extend to the sufferer’s family and friends.
There are a number of different types
of eating disorders, the most common are:
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Bulimia Nervosa
Common eating disorders
Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder in which individual’s suffer from an intense fear of gaining weight. In most cases the individual already has a dangerously low body weight, however people of a relatively “normal” body size can still suffer from Anorexia.
The individual usually employs extreme diets and excessive exercise regimes in obsessive attempts at controlling, or losing weight. Anorexia Nervosa stems from an individual suffering from a distorted body image, constantly viewing themselves as overweight and needing to lose more weight. In addition, individuals suffering from Anorexia Nervosa generally believe that their value as a person is integrally tied up in their body weight, that is, they are not worth anything if they are not thin.
Anorexia Nervosa carries serious health risks to an individual in addition to psychological risks. Individuals are likely to suffer from physical changes in their body due to starvation, such as the loss of menstruation in women, loss of calcium in bones and reduced bone strength potentially leading to osteoarthritis or heart failure. Psychologically, an individual is likely to suffer from relationship breakdowns, social withdrawal or depression. Treatment for Anorexia Nervosa is aimed at adjusting an individual’s body image and self-perception and to gain a healthy relationship with themselves and with food.
Bulimia Nervosa, commonly referred to as “binge eating” is an eating disorder which is characterised by reoccurring episodes of binge eating following by purging behaviours (vomiting, excessive exercise, use of laxatives or fasting) as a result of feelings of immense guilt from the binge episode.
Individuals who suffer from Bulimia Nervosa are likely to appear to have a normal weight range or above average. Bulimia Nervosa carries serious health risks to one’s body and essential functioning. It also creates a substantial amount of stress and anxiety for the sufferer and their family and friends, significantly affecting mental health. Treatment is aimed at addressing cognitive behavioural factors contributing to disordered eating behaviours.
Obesity is a serious condition where excess body fat has accumulated due to excessive eating and often, loss of control of dietary habits.
Obesity significantly increases an individual’s chances of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnoea, certain types of cancer and osteoarthritis. Obesity and the accompanying health risks significantly shortens an individual’s life expectancy. Obesity additionally can seriously affect an individual’s mental health, leading to low self-esteem, negative body image and depression.
Psychological treatment for obesity focuses on helping you to understand dietary habits and eating difficulties, the motivations behind these and helping you to gain the tools and strategies to develop a healthier relationship with yourself and food.
Many individuals who suffer from an eating disorder avoid accessing treatment due to embarrassment, feelings of guilt or shame, or simply not feeling like what they are feeling is abnormal.
Match with a Psychologist
At Strategic Psychology we have experienced and understanding psychologists who are able to assist you, confidentially, to address any worrisome or disordered eating patterns which you may be concerned about.
Contact us at Strategic Psychology via phone, email or drop into our office to arrange an initial appointment to begin your recovery journey from disordered eating to living a rich and meaningful life.