Eating disorders are serious medical conditions and should not be written off as mood swings or anything less than a medical condition that requires treatment. Three of the most common eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. Eating disorders, like many medical conditions that disproportionately affect women and girls, are often written off as something trivial, as mood swings, or as something to make jokes about. Eating disorders can cause serious medical problems and even death, so if you or someone you know is suffering from one, it is important to get help.
Anorexia nervosa is an illness in which a person tries to maintain or reach an extremely low body weight either by starving themselves or excessively exercising to lose weight. Anorexia often causes malnutrition and starvation and can have severe health impacts if left untreated. Behavior patterns of a person with anorexia may include:
- Missing meals, lying about having eaten, or avoiding situations where people eat
- Obsessing about calorie count and body weight
- Using diet pills, self-medicating to lose weight, and forcing oneself to vomit
Bulimia nervosa is an illness in which a person binge eats a large amount of food in a short period of time and then purges the food. People become bulimic for a number of reasons, and the importance society places on being thin is just one of them. Like all eating disorders, bulimia is a complicated medical condition, and its causes can be complex. Bulimia's physical symptoms include damage done to the esophagus, throat, and teeth due to the acid from vomit.
Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating is when a person eats a large amount of food in a very short period of time until they are uncomfortably full. People with this disorder do not binge eat because they are hungry, but because they have an eating disorder. Binge eating can be caused by mental health problems, family history, or brain chemistry. Binge eating can cause serious health problems, such as obesity, and can also worsen mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression. It is important to seek help for binge eating and other eating disorders. This can be done by talking to doctor, seeing a therapist, talking to a trusted friend or relative, or calling a telephone hotline that specializes in helping people with eating disorders.
Eating disorders are serious illnesses that require the attention of a medical professional. People who suffer from eating disorders experience physical and emotional harm. It may be easy to write off the mental health issues or behavioral changes that a person with an eating disorder experiences as mood swings, but this is not right. If you know someone who may be suffering from an eating disorder, it is important to try to get them help. Or, you can find more information on how to treat mood swings that may not be related to eating disorders.
- National Health Service UK. (2015). Eating Disorders. Retrieved October 16, 2015, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Eating-disorders/Pages/Introduction.aspx
- National Institute of Mental Health. (2015). What are Eating Disorders? Retrieved October 16, 2015, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/eating-disorders/index.shtml