People with eating disorders typically worry a lot about their weight and about the food that they are eating, or trying not to eat. You may have an eating disorder if some of the following are happening:
Eating disorders are complex and potentially life-threatening conditions from which people can and do get better with appropriate treatment. Although the term ?eating disorder? is applied to a wide range of eating behaviours, only anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder are listed in official classifications of eating disorders. Eating disorders can affect anyone.
A person with anorexia nervosa is looking to achieve a weight and body ideal below what is normal for their age, sex and height. People with anorexia are preoccupied with thoughts of food and how to avoid it and they may exercise excessively and engage in other purging behaviours to get rid of whatever food they put into their body. People with anorexia can have their weight plummet quite dramatically but they won?t see themselves as ever being thin enough.
Likely effects as anorexia nervosa advances
Anorexia is most common in teenage girls but more cases of children and also young men are cropping up.
A person with bulimia will overeat (binge) on food and then try to make up for this by purging the food in their body. This is commonly done by throwing up after a meal or a binge, by taking laxatives, by exercising excessively etc. People with bulimia are often in the normal weight range for their age, sex and height. Because of this it can take longer for the disorder to be recognised. The longer a disorder runs for, the more difficult it will be to treat.
Effects of bulimia are: erosion of the enamel on the teeth because of stomach acid, irregular periods, digestive problems (cramps, wind, constipation etc.), tiredness, poor skin, headaches, dehydration.
A sign of bulimia can be calices on the knuckles. These arise when the person uses their fingers to make themselves vomit.
This is sometimes known as compulsive eating and involves episodes of bingeing but without the purging. It can therefore cause significant weight gain over a period of time which can have serious consequences. The person may feel locked in a destructive battle of eating and dieting, self-loathing and self-criticism. This particular disorder is thought to be as common in men as in women. 10% of people presenting to a Dublin weight management clinic with obesity, had Binge Eating Disorder.
Help is available in many forms. Exactly how treatment takes shape and how it works will be different for everyone. There is a 20% mortality rate of reported eating disorders in Ireland, particularly in relation to anorexia, so it is important not to ignore the issue and seek help and support as soon as possible.