Eating disorders are illnesses that affect eating habits, resulting in many serious health conditions.
There are many types of eating disorders, the most common ones are:
- Anorexia nervosa
- Bulimia nervosa
- Unspecified eating disorder
- Binge eating disorder
- Night eating syndrome
Anorexia: This is diagnosed when there is voluntary starvation resulting in severe weight loss and malnutrition. The person has aversion to maintaining ideal body weight or at least an adequate body weight for given age and height. There is also intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though malnourished and grossly underweight.
Bulima nervosa: This is characterized by frequent bouts of binge eating (overeating food) which is followed by guilt feeling, and trying to compensate for overeating by self induced vomiting, laxatives, diuretics enemas or other medications, excessive fasting or exercise. These two episodes, that is, overeating and compensating by vomiting etc, occur frequently for at least twice a week continuously for this to be diagnosed as bulimia.
Unspecified eating disorder: These are types of disorders that do not strictly meet the criteria for other disorders. But there is still weight loss, binge eating or compensations, and odd behaviours such as repeatedly eating and spitting out food and not swallowing food.
Binge eating disorder: This is diagnosed when a person repeatedly overeats or binges without using any compensatory mechanisms as in bulimia , such as vomiting or using medications. Many people suffer from binge eating without being aware they have a psychiatric illness.
Night eating disorder as the name suggests is characterized by binge eating episodes only at night, when no one else is able to observe this behavior.
If you or a loved family member or a friend suffers from any of the above, or if you suspect that a person may have unhealthy eating habits, please do get help from a professional counselor and a medical evaluation for appropriate treatment.