Types of eating disorders

woman with measuring tape.jpeg

With so many food choices surrounding us daily, and so much pressure from the media to look a certain way, it’s no wonder that eating disorders are so prevalent in the world today. Eating disorders can develop for so many reasons but no matter what the cause, the effect can be devastating.

There are three main types of eating disorders; Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating Disorder.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa is diagnosed when patients weigh at least 15% less than the normal healthy weight expected for their height. People with Anorexia Nervosa typically weigh themselves repeatedly, portion food carefully, exercise obsessively, and sometimes force themselves to vomit or take laxatives in order to lose weight. 

Bulimia Nervosa

Patients with Bulimia Nervosa binge eat frequently, and during these times sufferers may eat an astounding amount of food in a short period of time. They can eat very rapidly, sometimes gulping down food without even tasting it. Usually, bulimic behavior is done secretly because it is often accompanied by feelings of disgust or shame.

This binge eating is followed by behaviour that compensates for the overeating such as forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives, fasting, excessive exercise, or a combination of these behaviours.  The binge eating and purging cycle can happen anywhere from several times a week to many times a day.

Unlike Anorexia Nervosa, people with Bulimia Nervosa usually maintain what is considered a healthy or normal weight, while some are slightly overweight.

Binge Eating Disorder

People with Binge Eating Disorder lose control over their eating. Unlike Bulimia Nervosa, periods of binge eating are not followed by compensatory behaviours like purging, excessive exercise, or fasting. As a result, people with Binge Eating Disorder are often overweight or obese. People with Binge Eating Disorder who are obese are at higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. They also experience guilt, shame, and distress about their binge eating, which can lead to more binge eating.

Causes of Eating Disorders

The main contributors to eating disorders are related to a wide range of factors such as our; culture and environment, genetics, psychological and biological make-up, and living conditions. 

Eating disorders manifest themselves as coping strategies. Often self-esteem issues are a catalyst for starvation, especially in younger women. Peer pressure to look good, eat less and aspire to supermodel body shapes all contribute to feelings of inadequacy in many young people and if these feelings are not addressed and managed correctly, unhealthy behaviour can creep in.

Treatment of Eating Disorders

If you, or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, feel reassured that you do not have to deal with this alone, Spectrum Therapy can offer the appropriate therapy to manage and eventually overcome the condition.

Eating Disorders are a serious problem that, if left untreated, can have grave consequences and seriously threaten the health of the individual affected.

Our experienced Psychologists will help you get back to a healthy weight and change how to think about yourself. Our treatments will help to identify the root cause of your eating disorder and how to deal with difficult situation and emotions. All of our Psychologists are fully qualified and hold a current membership of the Psychological Society of Ireland.

Julie Farrar