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Eating Disorders (Definition, Statistics, Do I Have an Eating Disorder?)

Eating Disorders

If you have an abnormal relationship with food, and if that relationship has precipitated a significant change in your eating habits and your mental health, then you may have an eating disorder. In this guide we’ll look at:

  • What are the Types of Eating Disorders?
  • Eating Disorder Statistics
  • Eating Disorder Definition
  • Do I Have an Eating Disorder?

As well as many other questions that people with this disorder—as well as people with friends who are suffering from it—are asking. We typically focus on addiction here on Addictive Addiction. It’s in our name after all. But there are many similarities between these conditions and the ones faced by drug addicts. Not only that, but many people with eating disorders also abuse drugs, while drug abusers often end up with eating disorders.

This illness is not straightforward, but like everything else we cover on this site, it is a form of addiction. It is a compulsive and destructive illness and eats away at the person, their life, their career and the relationships they have with other people.

Signs of an Eating Disorder

Signs of Eating Disorders

There are many symptoms at play with an eating disorder, and the variety of these, as well as the misinformation concerning them, creates confusion. Just because your symptoms are different to a fellow sufferer, does not mean that your problem is non-existent or not as severe.

Some anorexia sufferers will attempt to starve themselves in order to lose weight, others will exercise excessively; some bulimia sufferers will vomit after eating, others will consume large quantities of laxatives. These illnesses have many symptoms in common, and there are also eating disorders that have some of these symptoms, but not all of them.

To understand this illness, it is imperative to know just what the differences are, and to treat every case as an individual.

Types of Eating Disorder

Although the term “Eating Disorder” is synonymous with mental health conditions such as Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa, this term actually encompasses a greater variety of illnesses and a broader list of symptoms than many people realize. These include Binge Eating Disorder, which is on the other end of the spectrum, as well as Pica Eating Disorder and other selective eating disorders.

If you click the individual links you will find further information on all of these eating disorders:

  • Bulimia: This is mainly characterized by periods of binge eating and vomiting, but sufferers may also use high doses of laxatives in order to purge their body of food.
  • Anorexia: Sufferers of anorexia will either starve themselves or exercise constantly in order to keep their weight down. They may also resort to other methods of losing weight.
  • Binge Eating Disorder: The sufferer feels that they need to eat vast quantities of food in a short space of time. Although they are not starving themselves, this indulgence can still be very detrimental to their health.
  • Pica Eating Disorder: This is a selective eating disorder whereby the patient is compelled to eat things not normally considered food. This may include hair, stone and other detritus.
  • EDNOS: This stands for Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, and is used to categorize people who suffer from some, but not all of the symptoms associated with eating disorders.

What is a Eating Disorder

Knowledge really is power, and the more you know, the easier things become. An eating disorder is a compulsive disorder that has a number of different causes and are rooted in different issues. Mental illness often plays a role and can be the result of the patient having little self believe.

Depression, body dysmorphia disorder, personality disorders and the mental illnesses can be triggers for this disorder as the patient looks to transform their appearance on the outside to make up for problems going on inside.

These frequently asked questions aim to answer specific issues that many sufferers and relatives of sufferers have.

How do You Know if you Have an Eating Disorder?

If you are preoccupied with food and weight loss, and if this has a negative impact on your life, then you might have a eating disorder. It’s normal, to some extent, for young men and women to be concerned about the way they look, and for these concerns to have an impact on the way they eat.

However, worrying about your weight and spending a little too much time in front of the mirror is one thing, but vomiting, starving yourself, consuming an excessive amount of laxatives and feeling guilty when you eat is another.

How to Help Someone With an Eating Disorder

If you are worried that a close friend or family member is hiding an eating disorder from you, there are a few things you can look out for. Only when you are sure that they actually have such a disorder can you start to help them. When you are ready for this then you can visit our Eating Disorders Treatment page to learn more.

All individual cases are different, but signs may include:

  • Excessive Exercise
  • No Interest in Food
  • Dry Skin
  • Thinning Hair or Hair Loss
  • Refusal to Eat in Public
  • Excessive Use of Laxatives
  • Swollen Cheeks
  • Constantly Feeling Cold

Of course, weight loss is one of the main signs, but this can also be linked to many other illnesses.

How to Develop an Eating Disorder

There is no definitive answer. It’s safe to assume that society, celebrity culture, family issues and even bullying can play a big part. No two cases are alike though, and there are a number of factors at play with each and every case.

What Eating Disorder do I Have?

What Eating Disorder do I Have?

You need to look at the symptoms in order to evaluate whether you have an eating disorder or not. It is hard for people to be subjective when evaluating themselves like this. As a result, so this may not always be the best option, especially when you are biased one way or another.

It may be that you are in denial, refusing to admit that you have an eating disorder and therefore being reluctant to listen to anyone (online or offline) who tells you otherwise. And there is also a flip side to this, because in certain circles it is considered a positive thing. There are communities that exist purely for the purpose of promoting eating disorders as a lifestyle choice.

In such cases it may be that you actually want to label yourself as someone with an eating disorder. We’re sure that we don’t need to tell you how dangerous and how reckless this behavior is. The body survives on nourishment. If you take that away then you are depriving it of the thing it needs to function and to live. In these cases, denial also plays a big role and there is also a strong mental health factor.

That’s why it’s usually best to involve someone else. You need someone who can look at things subjectively, as well as someone who can get you to reach out for help if they deem that you are in trouble.

Depression and Eating Disorders

A lot of sufferers are depressed. This is often a result of the illness, and depression in itself does not necessarily cause an eating disorder. However, there are a number of psychological issues at play. These include lowered levels of self-esteem and self-worth, as well as past trauma.

Can Men Get Eating Disorders?

For every male with an eating disorder, there are 10 females. However, it is becoming more of an issue. Men should never be ashamed to admit they have a problem. Failure to do so will only make it worse.

How to Help a Friend with an Eating Disorder

There is a lot of help available. You simply need to direct your friend and to support them while they receive this help. They might be in denial, they might be scared. Show them the damage they are doing to themselves and their family; direct them to the available support systems; and stay with them as they fight through it.