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The Complete Guide to Eating Disorders: 2 Types, Symptoms and Is it fatal?

In a world where being in the spotlight and being in tip-top shape is the most important thing. People begin to associate their eating habits with distorted body images, which leads to poor eating patterns, body image, and identity.

We immediately associate the term “eating disorder” with food. It is a severe mental illness that is frequently misunderstood. They are not about food or weight, but rather about how people perceive themselves and their surroundings. If untreated, eating disorders can be fatal if the person is unable to maintain their weight.

Body shaming, bullying in schools, colleges, the workplace, and postpartum are some of the causes of eating disorders. In today’s world, everyone has an opinion, and people joke about one‘s physical health. They believe that calling someone fat or malnourished is acceptable. However, they do not believe that the other person will take their comment seriously, which could have an impact on their mental health. 

In school, young teenagers frequently refer to their classmates as Pandas or Elephants, which can have an impact on how that person perceives themselves. We live in a society where people believe they can say whatever they want without respect for the other person.

When it comes to body image, people become more aware of what they eat and how much they eat. They begin to fear being left out of society or being the Centre of society’s jokes. All of this has an impact on how he or she perceives themselves, which leads to poor or unhealthy eating habits, which in turn leads to eating disorders. 

Eating disorders can have a significant impact on your physical health, emotional well-being and social life. They are characterized by extreme and unhealthy weight loss, distorted body image, and obsessive thoughts about food. 

The three very common eating disorders are- Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa.

Anorexia nervosa- is characterized by refusal to maintain a healthy weight and intense fear of gaining weight, even though underweight.

Bulimia nervosa-  is characterized by binge eating followed by behaviours such as self-induced vomiting or misuse of laxatives in order to control weight gain.

Till now you must have got a glimpse of what are eating disorders, what causes them, the symptoms of eating disorders and DSM 5 eating disorders, the effects of eating disorders and some movies about eating disorders

So sit back and get ready to know all about eating disorders.

So sit back and get ready to know all about eating disorders.

What are Eating Disorders and How Do We Recognize them?

Eating disorders are psychological conditions that result in the formation of unhealthy eating habits. They may start with an addiction to food, body weight, or body shape. 

Eating disorders, if left untreated, can have serious health consequences and even result in death in severe cases. Eating disorders are, in fact, among the most fatal mental illnesses, second only to opioid overdose. 

People suffering from eating disorders may show a range of symptoms. Extreme food restriction, binge eating, and purging behaviours such as vomiting or excessive exercise are common symptoms.

Eating disorders affect up to 5% of the population and are most common in adolescence and early adulthood. Several are more common in women, particularly anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, but they can all occur at any age and affect any gender. 

Eating disorders are frequently associated with food, weight, or shape obsessions, as well as anxiety about eating or the consequences of eating certain foods. Eating disorders are characterized by behaviours such as restrictive eating or avoidance of certain foods, binge eating, purging through vomiting or laxative abuse, and compulsive exercise. These behaviours can become driven in ways that resemble addiction.

In particular, mood and anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, and issues with alcohol and drugs frequently co-occur with eating disorders. Evidence suggests that genes and heritability play a role in why some people are predisposed to an eating disorder, but these disorders can affect people who have no family history of the disorder. Psychological, behavioural, nutritional, and other medical complications should be addressed during treatment.  

The latter can include heart and gastrointestinal problems, as well as other potentially fatal conditions, as a result of malnutrition or purging behaviours. Ambivalence toward treatment, denial of an eating and weight problem, or anxiety about changing eating habits are all common. Those with eating disorders, on the other hand, can resume healthy eating habits and recover their emotional and psychological health with proper medical care.

Eating Disorders and How Do We Recognize them?

The Effects of Eating Disorders-:

Body: Physical Effects

Multiple physical consequences, both minor and serious, can result from ED. Some of the more visible physical symptoms include dry skin, loss of muscle mass, brittle hair and nails, and extreme thinness. However, additional physical conditions like Type II diabetes and pancreatitis can also be brought on by ED. Long-term physical consequences of eating disorders can include:

Heart Problems: Your cardiovascular health can be negatively impacted by ED, with anorexia nervosa being the most harmful. Insufficient calorie intake causes the body to begin using its own muscle and tissue as fuel. In the human body, the heart is the most significant muscle. The likelihood of developing heart failure rises when it does not receive enough energy to pump blood or when it begins to malfunction. Due to the body’s loss of essential minerals and electrolytes during vomiting, such as potassium, bulimia may also cause heart failure (which the heart needs to function).

Malnutrition and dehydration: Dietary restrictions or the elimination of essential nutrients can result in severe deficiencies in your body. When you’re dehydrated, your body isn’t getting enough fluids to function properly, which can lead to kidney failure, seizures, fatigue, constipation, and cramping in the muscles. Your immune system may be weakened and a number of health issues, including anaemia, may result from malnutrition, which occurs when your body does not receive enough nutrients and proteins.

Slowed Brain Function:  The brain, which only weighs about three pounds, can use up to one-fifth of the calories in your body. The brain, however, is deprived of the energy it requires to properly function and concentrates when dieting, fasting, starving, and/or irregular eating patterns are practised.

Reduced Hormone Levels:  Our bodies use cholesterol and fat for the production of hormones. When we limit our intake of fats and calories, our levels of sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone) can drop. Thyroid hormone levels may also fall. These can cause a young woman’s period to stop, but they can also have serious consequences, such as bone loss.

Mind: Psychological Effects

More than 20 million women and 10 million men in the US suffer from disordered eating, a complicated, clinically significant mental health condition. Along with their physical consequences, ED is frequently accompanied by psychological issues like distorted thinking, obsessive behaviours, low self-esteem, self-harm, anxiety, depression, social isolation, and suicide risk.

Mind: Psychological Effects

It is essential to consider the signs of an eating disorder. These consist of:

– A strong desire to be thin

– Extreme weight loss or weight gain

– Constant dieting

– Eating very little or too much food in a short period of time

– Feeling fat after eating only a small amount of food

– Use of laxatives, diet pills, or diuretics on a regular basis

– Binge eating followed by purging behaviours (vomiting, excessive exercise)

Symptoms of an Eating Disorder 

  • Lip chaps and ageing skin 
  • Defecation and dehydration-related fainting episodes 
  • Loss of hair 
  • Abnormal or nonexistent menstrual cycles 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Pain from overexertion and musculoskeletal injuries 
  • Dental erosions caused by self-induced vomiting 
  • Constipation that is persistent, gastroesophageal reflux, and other digestive issues 
  • Significantly low blood pressure and heart rate 
  • Upper respiratory infections are a risk. 
  • Low energy 
  • Generally unwell

Symptoms of an Eating Disorder 

DSM 5 Eating disorders-:

This section will look at the DSM-5 eating disorders. We will look into each disorder in depth to try to understand what it is, and at the end, there will be a list of movies concerning eating disorders.

Eating disorders typically emerge during the adolescent and young adult years, and they are far more common in women and girls. Nobody knows what causes eating disorders, but they appear to coexist with psychological and medical issues like low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, difficulty coping with emotions, and substance abuse.

We frequently see people who are so obsessed with their appearance that they begin starving themselves in order to achieve a perfect body. They believe they are overweight despite being significantly underweight. They overwork themselves and practice bad eating habits in an effort to maintain their weight.

DSM 5 Eating disorders

What Is Anorexia?

Anorexia nervosa, also known as anorexia, is an eating disorder as well as a metabolic condition that causes excessive weight loss and extreme thinness due to self-starvation. 

Anorexia can affect anyone of any gender, age, race, or cultural background, though it most commonly affects adolescent girls and women. Athletes, dancers, and anyone who works or studies in an industry that emphasizes lean physiques are especially vulnerable, and extremely thin people are frequently misdiagnosed as anorexic.

Common signs and symptoms of anorexia include skipping meals, refusing to eat in public, frequently talking about or lamenting weight gain, exhaustive exercise routines, and layering clothing to hide thinness in addition to extreme thinness and afraid of putting on weight. When you have anorexia, your obsession with maintaining your ideal weight and body type consumes you.


What Causes Anorexia? 

Due to the belief that being thin is a sign of self-worth, people with anorexia nervosa severely restrict their intake of food and obsessively monitor their weight. You believe that the thinner you are, the more valuable you are, so you can never be thin enough. Unfortunately, having a distorted perception of what your body should look like can lead to serious illness.


How Does Anorexia Develop? 

Anorexia’s onset is influenced by a variety of factors, as with other eating disorders for which there is no single known cause. What causes anorexia to begin? It’s not entirely clear, but having a close family member with an eating disorder, such as a parent or sibling, raises your risk. Anorexia is commonly associated with obsessive-compulsive personality traits such as perfectionism and sensitivity.

Genetics appear to play a significant role, though researchers are still figuring out which genes are involved and what types of changes to those genes put people at a higher risk of developing anorexia. Anorexia is linked to depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, according to genetic research.

 Researchers have also discovered that certain metabolism genes associated with fat burning, physical activity, and resistance to type 2 diabetes appear to interact with genes associated with psychiatric conditions and that this interaction appears to increase the risk of developing anorexia.

How Does Anorexia Develop? 

The Effects of Anorexia on Your Health and Well-Being 

Numerous physiological, psychological, and emotional issues are the root of anorexia and may contribute to them. Starving yourself can eventually lead to serious physical complications, such as:

  • Atypically slow heart rate 
  • reduced blood pressure 
  • Atypical blood count 
  • greater chance of heart failure 
  • The risk of bone loss is increased (osteopenia or osteoporosis) 
  • Muscle tone decline 
  • Dehydration can, in some circumstances, result in kidney failure. 
  • Period irregularities in women 
  • reduction in male testosterone 
  • feeling weak, worn out, lightheaded, or having fainting spells 
  • Possibly yellowed skin due to dryness 
  • Fingertips are bluish in colour. 
  • hair loss as well as dry hair 
  • follicles of downy hair that cover the skin and act as a heat barrier


Additionally, you may encounter some or all of the psychological and emotional issues related to anorexia, such as:

  • Providing false information about your eating habits 
  • Mood swings 
  • Social withdrawal 
  • Emotional stagnation 
  • Weight gain obsessional thoughts and actions 
  • A lack of confidence in your appearance 
  • Reduced sexual interest 
  • Depression and anxiety 
  • Suicidal thoughts


Treatment for Anorexia 

Mental health professionals who treat anorexia may employ various styles of therapy and tools to assist you in reaching a state of recovery. Individual cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), a one-on-one, relatively short-term form of talk therapy that can help you understand how your negative thoughts and feelings about yourself and food are linked to your eating disorder, is usually the first line of treatment. Your therapist can teach you how to manage your emotions and assist you in developing new ways of thinking and acting around food.

Although many people worry about their weight or appearance, those who have bulimia nervosa have an overwhelming obsession with their body size and shape. This leads to compulsive overeating and the use of a variety of compensatory behaviours to make up for the excessive amounts of food consumed.

Treatment for Anorexia 


What is Bulimia Nervosa? 

Bulimia nervosa, also known as just bulimia, is one of the most prevalent eating disorders in the world and is most frequently characterized by a recurrent cycle of bingeing (overeating) and purging (using a variety of techniques to get rid of the body’s extra calories). 

If you have bulimia nervosa, you likely spend a lot of time overindulging in food before attempting to burn off the excess calories. This cycle of bingeing and purging is likely to occur multiple times per week, or in severe cases, multiple times per day. You might overeat until you feel pain in your stomach and eat covertly. Bulimia sufferers frequently prefer carbohydrates-rich foods.

To get rid of the extra calories, you can try vomiting or using diuretics, laxatives, and/or enemas to purge your body of food. Alternately, you might try to make up for your binges by engaging in non-purging behaviours like fasting, rigid dieting, or excessive exercise.

What Causes Bulimia Nervosa? 

Although bulimia appears as abnormal eating and vomiting patterns, the underlying cause is a flawed perception of one’s self and one’s body. When you have bulimia, you judge yourself harshly and unjustly for any imperfections, whether they are actual or perceived. And, despite the fact that you are probably aware that bingeing and purging are unusual behaviours that can be detrimental to your body’s health and mental well-being, you can’t seem to stop yourself.

It’s as if you’re powerless over your eating habits. Although there isn’t a single cause for bulimia, there are a number of biological, psychological, environmental, and behavioural risk factors that can increase your likelihood of developing the disorder.  Some factors that cause Bulimia are:-

  • Impulsiveness, rigidity, excessive fearfulness, shyness, pessimism, and difficulty seeing the “bigger picture” are examples of personality traits. 
  • Giving in to cultural, family, or peer pressure to lose weight and become thin 
  • Poor self-esteem is possibly a result of a critical family environment that places a high value on achievement and success. 


What Causes Bulimia Nervosa? 

The Effects of Bulimia on Your Health and Well-Being 

The following physical health issues are inevitably brought on by bingeing and purging: 

  • Inflammation and pain in the throat or oesophagus, mouth sores, and swollen salivary glands are all symptoms of a bacterial infection. 
  • Worn tooth enamel and decayed teeth are brought on by repeated self-inflicted vomiting, which exposes the mouth to too much stomach acid. 
  • The weight fluctuates, rising and falling. 
  • digestive system issues, including peptic ulcers, stomach pain, nausea, acid reflux, diarrhoea, gas, and constipation 
  • Dehydration 
  • Bad breath 
  • decreased blood pressure 
  • Loss of minerals like sodium, calcium, and potassium causes an electrolyte imbalance that can ultimately lead to abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, or death.


You may also experience the following emotional and psychological conditions as a result of your bulimia: 

  • Guilt and shame feelings 
  • An obsession with the number of calories consumed 
  • Low self-esteem and a negative self-image 
  • Anxiety or depression 
  • Absence from friends and activities


Treatment for Bulimia Nervosa 

It is important to get a proper diagnosis and treatment for bulimia nervosa because it is a serious physical and mental health condition. After a diagnosis has been made, a treatment plan that includes nutrition counselling, medical care, and psychotherapy may be suggested.

Describe the signs of binge eating as well as the emotions that go along with it. Before the appointment, you should make a list of the symptoms you are experiencing. Include all pertinent personal information, such as a history of eating disorders in the family, significant stress, recent life changes, and an example of a typical day’s eating habits. In addition to a physical exam, which may include tests to determine whether you are suffering from any physical effects of binge eating, your doctor will most likely ask you questions about your daily eating habits, thoughts, and thoughts and feelings about your weight and appearance. 

Mental health professionals who treat bulimia may employ various styles of therapy and tools to assist you in reaching a state of recovery. Individual cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), a one-on-one, relatively short-term talk therapy that can help you understand the connections between your thoughts, feelings, and eating behaviours, is usually the first line of treatment. Your therapist will teach you how to normalize both your eating habits and your thought patterns in order to eliminate or at least reduce binge-purge episodes. Simultaneously, CBT provides tools for coping with stress as well as addressing and reorienting negative thinking patterns about yourself, your body type, and your weight.

Treatment for Bulimia Nervosa 

Some Movies About Eating Disorders

Sharing the Secret- This well-received TV movie offers one of the more compassionate perspectives on eating disorders, following adolescent Beth as she struggles to cope in the aftermath of her parent’s divorce and the mounting pressure to succeed in school. She resorts to bingeing and purging to gain control over one aspect of her life, but her habits quickly spiral out of control, forcing her to seek treatment.

Hunger Point- Eating disorders can also be learned behaviours. Hunger Point depicts what happens when parents place unrealistic weight and body image expectations on their children, and how devastating the resulting tragedy can be.  The Hunter family is rife with dysfunction, as two daughters struggle to balance their mother’s extreme dieting with their own lives.

Behind the Before and After – This short documentary, produced by the Body Love Society, delves not only into eating disorders but also into diet culture, body image, and self-love. It demonstrates how the fitness industry makes so much money despite the fact that it does not work: most people regain the weight they lost after completing whatever diet they were on. This documentary promotes intuitive eating and more through personal anecdotes, interviews, and more.

I Am Maris- I Am Maris follows Maris, a young woman who suffers from an eating disorder and discovers new healthy habits through yoga and mindfulness. This documentary follows Maris, a teenage girl, as she receives inpatient care at a children’s hospital and eventually discovers a yoga studio, where she falls in love with the practice and eventually becomes a yoga teacher.  I Am Maris depicts the ongoing process of recovery: While Maris’ yoga practice helps her accept and control her symptoms, she also recognizes when eating disorder behaviours resurface in college. This motivates her to seek help and recognizes that recovery is a process rather than a destination.

Thin –  This documentary follows four women undergoing treatment for eating disorders at The Renfrew Center in Coconut Creek, Florida. While each woman has a different “final straw” that brought them to Renfrew, they all have eating disorders that have a significant impact on their lives, even to the point of near-death in some cases.

Starving in Suburbia – This Lifetime original television movie follows Hannah, a 17-year-old who joins a risky online “thinspiration” group where members treat anorexia as a way of life rather than a mental illness. She loses a significant amount of weight only to obsess over losing more, ignoring concerned loved ones, including her own overweight brother. The film culminates in a tragedy, forcing Hannah to face the reality of her eating disorder.

Feed- Olivia, a teenager, is troubled by the loss of her twin brother and starts to see his ghostly images when she’s upset. Matt instructs her on what to do and when to eat, and Olive begins to believe that she is saving food for her brother in order for him to live again.  This film not only addresses eating disorders and the havoc they can cause in someone’s life but also how profound grief can make us believe it was our fault in the first place.


Do not trust social media and speak to a professional medical health advisor if you believe that you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder. Seek help before it’s too late. 

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