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Advice on Eating Disorders - Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating - Treatment - Warning Signs - Health Complications

Eating Disorders

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Disordered Eating Patterns

What is an eating disorder?
Eating disorders are outward signs of inner problems. Sufferers use eating as a way of coping with difficulties in their life. Because of this, close attention must be paid to the underlying psychological cause of the disturbed eating pattern. Eating disorders are not trivial. They are serious and complex illnesses. requiring professional help. If left untreated, they may persist throughout life.

Who is at risk? 
Anyone can develop an eating disorder regardless of age, gender or background. However, young women are most vulnerable, especially between the ages of 15-21.

Trigger factors
The root causes of eating disorders are not fully known. Recent research suggests that sufferers may inherit a weakness for the condition, although it seems clear that environmental pressures are also very important.

For example, sufferers may be influenced by a key person in their life whose attitude to food or body shape may adversely affect their own attitude to these things. Alternatively, they may come under severe exam or career-related pressure and turn to eating as a way of coping with these stresses.

Other triggers may include traumatic events like bereavement, family break-up, family relocation, bullying, abuse or the break-up of a relationship.

The sufferer must want to get better 
As stated above, eating disorders are serious illnesses and require professional care. However, such third party care is rarely sufficient. The sufferers themselves must also recognize their condition and want to get better. Otherwise any improvements will be temporary. This is why eating disorders are so difficult to deal with and why expert help is needed.

Treatment
There are several methods of treatment although statistics show that recovery cannot be guaranteed. Such treatments include:

  • General dietary advice

  • Self-help / support groups

  • Therapy sessions involving the family or other sufferers

  • Psychological counseling

  • Psychiatric counseling

  • Secure confinement

Early diagnosis is important
Eating disorders may become more intractable with time. Hence, early diagnosis and treatment is vital. For example, if you suspect that your child or friend may be suffering from an eating disorder, it is vital that you contact your doctor for advice. In this context, please be aware that many sufferers tend to hide their condition and, if challenged, deny it's existence completely.

Specific eating disorders
For details, click Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating, How To Stop Bingeing

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