Eating Disorders

The term "eating disorders" refers to a group of complex mental health conditions that can have serious consequences for one's health and social functioning.

Eating disorders can cause emotional distress as well as serious medical complications. In addition, they have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder.

Most eating disorders involve obsessing over your weight, body shape, and food, which leads to dangerous eating habits. These behaviours can significantly impact your body's ability to obtain adequate nutrition. Eating disorders can harm the heart, digestive system, bones, teeth, and mouth, as well as lead to other diseases.

In regards to feeding and eating disorders, there are several types:

•    Binge Eating Disorder (BED)
•    Bulimia Nervosa (BN)
•    Anorexia Nervosa (AN)
•    Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder (OSFED)
•    Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)
•    Orthorexia Nervosa
•    Night eating syndrome
•    Pica
•    Purging disorder
•    Rumination disorder

Symptoms of Eating Disorders:

•    Reduced food intake
•    Significant weight changes or being severely underweight
•    Inability to resist food binge
•    Excessive amount of exercise
•    Presence of laxatives, diuretics, or purging use
•    Constant and inappropriate thoughts about food, body image, and weight

Eating disorders commonly occur together with other mental illnesses, mainly anxiety disorders, which include:

•    Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD)
•    Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
•    Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
•    Social anxiety disorder (GAD)

Eating disorders can affect every part of the body, causing problems such as;

•    Brain mass loss
•    Cardiovascular problems
•    Disrupted sleep patterns
•    Gastrointestinal Disorders 
•    Dental problems
•    Fainting spells
•    Hair loss 
•    Loss of menstrual period post-puberty 
•    Musculoskeletal damages and pain
•    Weakened bones

Medical doctors and mental health specialists, such as psychiatrists and psychologists, can diagnose eating disorders. Often, a pediatrician or primary care doctor will diagnose an eating disorder after noticing symptoms during a regular check-up.

Although there is no specific laboratory test to identify eating disorders, your doctor can diagnose you using a combination of physical and psychological examinations as well as lab testing, such as:

•    A physical exam, during which your height, weight, and vital signs will be noted. 
•    Psychological evaluation, which includes personal questions about your eating behaviors, binging, purging, exercise habits, and body image
•    A complete blood count, liver, kidney, and thyroid function tests, urinalysis, X-ray, and an electrocardiogram are among the lab procedures that may be performed.

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