Eating Disorder: Causes, Types & Treatments

Today’s busy life has landed us in many unhealthy conditions like lack of proper sleep, healthy diets and healthy physical activities. Lack of healthy diet and eating disorders are one of the top reasons for bad health. Eating disorders are serious conditions that are related with severe disturbances in eating behaviors that negatively affect health, emotions and role in various parts of life. It is a misconception that eating disorders are lifestyle choices; actually they are severe mental disorders. They affect people mentally and socially. In fact they are now recognized as mental disorders.


The causes are different for each person. Several risk factors for eating disorders are;


Eating disorders are here hereditary. The family members of affected person are more vulnerable to develop eating disorders.

Biological factors:

Certain biological causes are;

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Abnormal neurotransmitters( brain chemicals)
  • Personality styles


Sometimes physical or sexual abuse contributes to sleep disorders. In some cases the eating disorder may lead to self-harm or self punishment for the trauma. Such survivors endeavor with guilt, shame and reduction of control.


is the most common factor in developing eating disorders. Dieting leads to depression, eating disorders and weight cycling.


Global media and promotion of a perfect body may make an individual more conscious about body appearance which can cause eating disorder. Other causes can be;

  • Perfectionism
  • Obsessive thinking
  • Low self-esteem


The common eating disorders are;

1.     Anorexia nervosa:

Unhealthy obsession and fear about food is the hallmark of anorexia nervosa.  Anorexic see themselves overweight despite of their appropriate physical state. Anorexic people constantly weight themselves and avoid certain foods.

Restricting Anorexic

Some people lose weight by dieting and excessive exercise. urgent care

Purging anorexia:

Lose weight by self-induced vomiting, misuse diuretics and enemas.


Symptoms are;

  • Restricted eating
  • Fear of weight gain
  • Brittle hair and nails
  • Obsession about perfect size and weight

2.     Bulimia nervosa:

Another disorder in which people consumes vast quantity of food to induce vomiting in order to prevent absorption of food. It involves frequent episodes of eating. Symptoms include;

  • Periodic episodes of eating
  • Swollen cheeks
  • Mood swings
  • Heartburn

3.     Binge eating disorder (BED):

People with this disorder lose control on eating. It involves quick eating and continues eating till uncomfortably full. Such people are often over weight.

Symptoms are;

  • Fast & alone eating
  • Repeated episodes of eating
  • Feeling guilt and shame after binge.

4.     Pica:

Pica is a recently recognized eating disorder. People with pica desire and eat non-food substances such as;

  • Chalk
  • Paper
  • Soil
  • Wool
  • Soap

This disorder is mostly observed in chiderns, Pregnant women and mentally disturbed people.

5.     Rumination disorder:

A condition in which people regurgitates chewed and swallowed food. They re-chew and re-swallow or spit it.

Other eating disorders;

  • Night eating disorder
  • Purging disorder
  • Restrictive food intake disorder


Eating disorders can be treated but it may take time.  The treatment involves;

Psychological treatment:

In addition to medical treatment psychological treatment is essential part of treatment. It focuses on person’s behavior and thinking and makes changes to them to overcome the disease. Some psychological treatments are;

Family therapy:

Family members work together to control patient behavior.

Cognitive behavioral therapy:

It focuses on changing person way of thinking and behavior.

Interpersonal psychotherapy:

Focus on link between symptoms and problems.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy:

Focuses on disclose of mind which the person is not aware of.

Mindfulness based therapy:

These therapies help people with eating disorders. It aims to detach negative thoughts. It mainly focuses on;

  • Mindful eating
  • Yoga
  • Awareness of eating behavior


Medications that are useful for treating eating disorder are;

  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Mood stabilizers

These can reduce the symptoms of anxiety which is the main cause of eating disorder.


Hospitalization may be required in case of severe malnutrition. Specialized eating programs are offered for long- term treatment.

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