Jun 21st 2023
Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder, can cause various physical health complications. Some of these physical effects are severe and can lead to serious illness or even death. Many health complications stem from depriving the body of proper nutrition, while others are injuries from purging behaviors, such as vomiting or laxative use.
Bulimia nervosa is a mental disorder characterized by negative perceptions of one’s body, causing patterns of binge eating, followed by purging behaviors such as vomiting, laxative use, and excessive exercise.
Binge eating disorder is a mental disorder characterized by repeated episodes of binging on large amounts of food leading to intense feelings of shame or regret. Unlike bulimia, binges in binge eating disorder are not followed by purges.
Binge eating disorder can cause various serious medical complications including:
Eating disorders are often accompanied by other mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, substance use disorders and borderline personality disorder. Treatment for eating disorders may also include treatment for an additional mental health issue.
There are strong links between eating disorders and addiction. Eating disorders could in themselves be described as addictions, defined as a compulsive need to carry out some kind of harmful behavior that is difficult to stop. Addiction is related to the reward center of the brain. For example, when we take drugs or consume alcohol it affects our brain chemistry which in turn makes us feel pleasure. The same sorts of effects have been found in the brains of people when they are restricting, binging, or purging. In addition, some people with eating disorders use alcohol or stimulants as a way of suppressing their appetite and controlling their body weight , which may over time lead to addiction.
Eating disorders carry with them an increased risk of death. This varies between different kinds of eating disorder. The risk of death is increased for several reasons:
If you believe that you have an eating disorder, seek help as soon as you can. Most people with eating disorders don’t recover without support, so while there are things you can do to manage your condition, seeking professional help is important.
The first call could be your doctor, who can make an initial assessment and refer you to a. specialist mental health for support.
Eating disorder treatment is usually based around psychotherapy. Hospitalization is sometimes necessary, and medication may be prescribed to treat an underlying or accompanying mental health problem, such as depression or anxiety.
If you or someone you know is in crisis or at an immediate risk of suicide, call +1 (800) 273-8255