People sometimes dismiss eating disorders as poor decision making, but eating disorders are serious conditions that may require help from a medical professional. It can be difficult to recognize eating disorders, however. There are different types of eating disorders, and the symptoms and behaviors that accompany those disorders can vary as well. Here’s some information for those seeking help with eating disorders.
Understanding eating disorders
An eating disorder isn’t a simple matter of someone choosing not to eat. Eating disorders are serious mental health problems, diagnosed by medical professionals, that can affect men and women of all ages. The most common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.
These disorders affect more than just a person’s body weight. Eating disorders can result in complications from malnutrition including brain damage, organ failure, osteoporosis, anemia, and muscle wasting. In some cases eating disorders can be fatal.
Treatment for eating disorders may include a combination of psychological therapy, education, monitoring, or medication.
Warning signs of eating disorders
Look for warning signs of an eating disorder to see if you should seek help from a medical professional.
- Sudden or rapid weight loss
- Weight loss, dieting, and food become obsessions
- Intense focus on being thin
- Fear of gaining weight
- Distorted self-image
- Refusal to eat entire food groups
- Often talks about weight and feeling fat – especially when losing weight
- Doesn’t feel comfortable eating in front of others
- Is private or secretive about eating
- Doesn’t eat
- Claims not to be hungry even if they have not eaten
- Wearing layers to hide weight or because they are constantly cold.
- Eats large quantities of food in short amount of time (binge eating)
- Vomiting after meals, using laxatives or diuretics to lose weight, or other means of purging
Noticing a couple of these warning signs from time to time doesn’t necessarily indicate an eating disorder. However, if you recognize multiple warning signs of an eating disorder on a regular basis, it could be time to address the issue.
What kind of doctors treat eating disorders?
Seek medical care if you or a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder. Psychiatrists, general practitioners, family doctors, and pediatricians can all help treat eating disorders.
Your primary care doctor is often the first contact in treating eating disorders. That’s because your primary doctor is your first contact for any health issues or concerns. A primary doctor may refer you to a specialist, but she may also be involved in the diagnosis and treatment.
Psychological therapy is essential in treating eating disorders. Contact a psychiatrist in Northwest Arkansas today!