What is an eating disorder? Know Its Causes, Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

New Delhi: Eating disorders are a class of disorders in which food intake or a person’s general relationship with food is severely affected and becomes problematic. Now we may see them as trivial or not serious, but these disorders can be fatal and have very serious medical consequences. These disorders affect physical health in addition to mental, psychological and emotional health.

Types of eating disorders:

Dinika Anand from Department of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences, Clinical Psychology, Psychiatry at BLK-Max Super Specialty Hospital discussed the three major known eating disorders. He said, “One is anorexia nervosa, another is bulimia nervosa, and the third is overeating.”

Anorexia nervosa:

The main principle in anorexia is that a person either does not eat, eats very little, or only eats certain foods, and that too in very limited and limited quantities. It will be very weak and the media representation that we can see or hear a lot about people in the fashion industry, especially for models that have been around for a long time. starving or eating too little, too many calories and all that.

Bulimia nervosa:

In bulimia, there are periods when a person will eat a lot. So there’s overeating and then overtraining, maybe a compensatory period. For example, if one eats a large pizza, but then go ahead and run on the treadmill for 2 hours or something like that. So there is overeating with overcompensation. Now, over-exercising is one way, but so is using laxatives or using comfort techniques to induce vomiting.

Binge Eating:

In binge eating, it is impossible to control the amount you eat, so you will consume a very large amount of food in a very short time. And of course, it’s so much food that it makes you physically uncomfortable.

Causes of eating disorders:

Chief Nutritionist of Apollo Hospitals Dr. “Eating disorders result from a complex interaction of genetic, psychological, environmental and socio-cultural factors,” said Priyanka Rohatgi.

“Genetic predisposition plays a role, and individuals with a family history of eating disorders are more susceptible. Psychological factors include low self-esteem, body dissatisfaction, perfectionism, and disturbed body image, which can lead to disordered eating behaviors. Sociocultural influences, such as Thinness and society’s focus on beauty standards contribute to the development of eating disorders, especially among teenagers. Traumatic experiences such as abuse or violence in childhood can also be triggers. Neurobiological factors, including brain chemicals and hormones that regulate appetite and mood, contribute to the development of this disorder. “, he added later.

In addition, he also said: “In addition, diet, especially extreme or fad diets, can act as a gateway to disordered eating patterns. The causes are complex and often interrelated, requiring early intervention and effective treatment. making a multidisciplinary approach essential. Addressing underlying causes while providing medical, nutritional and psychological support can help people on the road to recovery.”

Signs and symptoms of eating disorders:

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of an eating disorder is an important step toward healing and support. In this regard, Dr. Neerja Aggarwal, PhD Psychologist and co-founder of Emoneeds shared the signs and symptoms of eating disorders:

  • Subtle changes in behavior and attitudes toward food, body image, and self-worth in oneself or others can serve as early indicators.
  • Watch out for over-preoccupation with weight, calorie counting, or restrictive eating patterns.
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom after meals, unexplained changes in weight, or avoiding social gatherings centered around food can also signal anxiety.
  • Remember that recognizing an eating disorder means looking at the whole picture, not just the physical aspect.
  • Emotional cues are equally important.
  • Be aware of increased anxiety, depression, or irritability, especially around food.
  • Negative self-talk and distorted body perception can be symptoms.
  • Withdrawal and isolation from once-enjoyed activities may indicate a deeper struggle.
  • It is important to approach conversations with empathy and create a safe space for open dialogue.

If you or someone you know is showing these symptoms, it is very important to seek professional help immediately. The journey to recovery begins with acknowledging the problem and extending a hand of compassion, guiding the way to healing, self-love, and restoring a healthier relationship with food and self.

Treatment of eating disorders:

Dr. Priyanka Rohatgi said, “The treatment of eating disorders requires a comprehensive approach that includes the physical, psychological, and emotional components of the condition. A tailored treatment plan usually involves a combination of medical, nutritional, and psychological interventions. Medical management focuses on stabilizing malnutrition, electrolyte imbalances, or other physical causes of the disorder. health of the individual by eliminating any complications arising from its consequences.

He then talked about Nutrition Therapy, which aims to build a healthy relationship with food through structured meal plans, balanced nutrition education and weight restoration. Moving on to psychological, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and family-based therapy, he said they are used to address the distorted thoughts, emotions and behaviors associated with the disorder.

“Therapeutic techniques such as art therapy, mindfulness and yoga can also complement the recovery process,” she said. vigilant monitoring to prevent. Early intervention and a multidisciplinary approach are vital to guide individuals towards a healthier relationship with food and themselves.”

Effects of Food and Nutrition on Mental Health:

Your body and mind are intricately connected, working in sync and playing a key role in your overall well-being. While we all know that the food we put into our bodies affects our physical health, it is a little known but important fact that it also affects our mental health. Have you noticed how we crave sugary or highly processed foods when we’re feeling stressed or emotionally charged? This goes to show perfectly that what we eat can have a huge impact on our emotional well-being. Emotional eating, that is, using food to cope with emotions, is also a very common mechanism that we often engage in.

Nishtha Jain, Consultant Psychologist at Lissun, a Mental Health and Emotional Health Platform, says, “Certain nutrients such as amino acids, vitamins and minerals are essential for the synthesis and regulation of neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine are involved in mood regulation and their imbalances can lead to depression. and can help with mental health conditions like anxiety. The gut and brain are closely connected through what’s known as the gut-brain axis, and a balanced gut is associated with better mental well-being.”

“Furthermore, blood sugar spikes are notorious for affecting mood levels and destabilizing emotional regulation. Certain nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, are critical for brain health and have been linked to improved cognitive function and reduced risk of depression. Certain foods, sugar and those high in unhealthy fats can contribute to an exaggerated stress response that can negatively impact mental health over time. On the other hand, mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders can affect an individual’s eating habits and food choices, leading to unbalanced nutrition,” she said.

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