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Eating Disorders: Serious and Treatable

An eating disorder is a broad term used to describe problematic eating habits that typically result in malnutrition and excessive weight loss or gain upon the specific form. While eating disorders have physical impacts and consequences for affected individuals, the underlying causes are typically psychological and emotional in nature.

They are very common with estimates of more than 5 million Americans affected each year. There are three major types of eating disorders. Approximately 1 to 4 percent of teenage girls and young women may be affected by these disorders.

Anorexia Nervosa, known as Anorexia, is an eating disorder characterized by constant and obsessive monitoring of food and weight with an especially strong fear of weight gain. Individuals usually deny themselves normal amount of food in order to maintain or achieve a certain and typically unhealthy or maintainable, body weight based upon a skewed self-image, the driving force and main concern behind this mental affliction.

Bulimia Nervosa known as Bulimia is an eating disorder that is also based on a distorted self-image. Afflicted individuals chronically consume large amounts of food and then rid their bodies of the excess calories by vomiting, abusing laxatives, diuretics, taking enemas or exercising constantly. Individuals will abuse alcohol or street drugs to deaden appetite or escape emotional pain. They may display a lack of impulse control that can lead to rash and regrettable decisions about sex, money, commitments careers, etc.

Binge Eating Disorder is characterized by individuals who consistently eat large quantities of food. The individuals eat portions outside of what is considered caloric norms and may often when alone. It is associated with psychiatric issues, such as depression, owing to feeling of guilt, physical nausea, and a mental incapacity to control cravings or portions. Estimates reveal that up to one-third of binge eaters may be males.

Why do teems develop eating disorders? There may be more than one reason a person develops an eating disorder. A person's self-image, the need to be perfect, a stressful personal life, social or family pressures, and even the body's own chemistry can influence the development of eating disorders. It is not uncommon for those with eating disorders to be diagnosed and treated for other mental illness at the same time.

Prevention of eating disorders can be difficult because their exact cause is unknown. The best prevention methods are to promote healthy eating habits and body image values, particularly among adolescents, a high risk group, and those persons who are beginning to show early or related symptoms.

Treatment options are highly specified to each individual. Combinations of varying methods are used and require long-term commitments as changes in behavior take time to make. Treatments include visits to both a physician for addressing physical complications and a psychologist to treat the mental and emotional symptoms. Counseling is an important part of treatment for patients along with varying form of behavior therapy.

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