Living with an eating disorder is not easy. It’s a constant battle between your mind and your body, and it’s one that can be very difficult to win. There are many different types of eating disorders, but they all have one thing in common: they’re characterized by an unhealthy relationship with food.
Here’s what you need to know.
Different Types of Eating Disorders
Not all eating disorders are the same, even though they are all rooted in the same kind of problem. Almost everyone with the eating disorders listed below constantly worry about their self-image and their weight. This may turn into full-blown anxiety or depression, too. Here are their key differences:
Anorexia nervosa, most commonly known as just “anorexia,” is a type of eating disorder that is characterized by an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat. People with anorexia nervosa often have a distorted view of their body image and believe that they are overweight even when they are not. As a result, they strive to maintain a very low weight by restricting their food intake and exercising excessively.
The body of someone with anorexia nervosa is often weak and malnourished. This can lead to a number of health problems, including:
- Heart problems
- Damage to the brain
- Kidney failure
- Fertility problems
Bulimia nervosa is a type of eating disorder that is characterized by binge eating followed by extreme compensation. This means that people with bulimia nervosa will often eat large amounts of food in a short period of time, and then try to get rid of the calories by vomiting, using laxatives, or exercising excessively. As a result, this places a lot of strain on the body.
Bulimia nervosa can have a number of serious effects on the body. For example, it can cause:
- Damage to the teeth, gums, and throat from frequent vomiting
- Swelling and pain in the stomach from excessive vomiting
- Dehydration from excessive laxative use
- Electrolyte imbalance, which can lead to heart problems, seizures, and death.
In addition, people with bulimia nervosa are also at risk for developing eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa. This is because their intense focus on food and weight can eventually lead to a distorted view of their body image.
Binge eating disorder
Binge eating disorder is a type of eating disorder that is characterized by episodes of excessive overeating. People with binge eating disorder often feel out of control during these episodes and eat more than they intended to or more than is healthy for them. Even though this is the same as Bulimia nervosa, there are no harmful compensatory activities that happen after episodes. However, most sufferers of binge eating disorder engage in self-hatred after episodes, even going as far as thinking about suicide. There are also cases of binge eating disorder developing into Bulimia nervosa.
The Constant Battle
One of the most difficult things about living with an eating disorder is the constant battle between you, your self-image, and your impulses.
The Mental Effects
The constant battle mostly takes place in your mind. On one hand, you want to recover and live a healthy life. On the other hand, the eating disorder feels like it’s a part of you, and it’s hard to let go. This battle can be exhausting, both mentally and emotionally. It’s often hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s important to remember that recovery is possible. Having an eating disorder has been proven to increase the risk of anxiety and depression. These things can cause sufferers to withdraw from their family and friends, especially if these same people create triggers for these disorders in the first place.
The Physical Effects
Eating disorders can take a toll on your body in many different ways. If you’re not getting enough nutrients, you may feel weak and tired all the time. You may also lose muscle mass and bone density. Your hair may fall out, and your skin may become dry and brittle. This worsens the effects of eating disorders on your mental health and social relationships.
The Social Effects
Eating disorders can also affect your social life. It’s common for people with eating disorders to withdraw from friends and family members. They may stop participating in activities that they once enjoyed. Eating disorders can also cause financial strain as medical bills pile up. All these problems turn into a vicious cycle that snowballs until they can no longer be resolved.
Recovery Is Possible
If you or someone you know struggling with an eating disorder, know that you’re not alone and that recovery is possible. It takes time, effort, and commitment—but it is possible. There are places where you can go to recover through guidance and therapy, such as anorexia and bulimia rehab centers. There are also many organizations and support groups that can get you the information you want and the moral support you need. Remember: you are not alone on your journey to recovery.