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Is An Eating Disorder A Disease

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Is Anorexia A Disease Learn How Researchers Define Disease And Whether They Consider Anorexia To Be One

Eating Disorders Are Not A Choice

Is anorexia a disease? Anorexia is a physical and mental health condition that changes the way the brain operates. However, researchers have not come to a consensus as to whether anorexia is a disease because the definition of the term disease varies.

What is a disease? The definition of this term has evolved. Merriam-Webster defines a disease as a condition that alters normal functioning in plants and animals. Dictionary.com says that a disease is a pathological condition that results from various causes, such as a genetic defect or an infection.

Athletes Eating Disorder Statistics

  • Athletes report higher rates of excessive exercise than nonathletes.14
  • Athletes are more likely to screen positive for an eating disorder than nonathletes, but percentages across all probable eating disorder diagnoses are similar.14
  • Athletes may be less likely to seek treatment for an eating disorder due to stigma, accessibility, and sportspecific barriers.14

What Are The Types Of Eating Disorders

Common types of eating disorders include

  • Binge-eating, which is out-of-control eating. People with binge-eating disorder keep eating even after they are full. They often eat until they feel very uncomfortable. Afterward, they usually have feelings of guilt, shame, and distress. Eating too much too often can lead to weight gain and obesity. Binge-eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the U.S.
  • Bulimia nervosa. People with bulimia nervosa also have periods of binge-eating. But afterwards, they purge, by making themselves throw up or using laxatives. They may also over-exercise or fast. People with bulimia nervosa may be slightly underweight, normal weight, or overweight.
  • Anorexia nervosa. People with anorexia nervosa avoid food, severely restrict food, or eat very small quantities of only certain foods. They may see themselves as overweight, even when they are dangerously underweight. Anorexia nervosa is the least common of the three eating disorders, but it is often the most serious. It has the highest death rate of any mental disorder.

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Genetic And Environmental Factors Related To Eating Disorders

Eating disorders tend to run in families, and female relatives are the most often affected. That is why genetic factors are believed to play a role in the disorders.

But, other influences, both behavioral and environmental, may also play a role. Consider these facts from the American Psychiatric Association:

  • Most people with binge eating disorder;are adolescent and young adult women. Yet this disorder can also affect older women and males of any age.

  • People pursuing professions or activities that emphasize thinness, like modeling, dancing, gymnastics, wrestling, and long-distance running, are more prone to this disorder.

Yale Power Program Is Studying The Best Ways To Help

How Eating Disorders Become Life

POWER offers a variety of clinical trials for children and adults focusing on such areas; as the use of medications to treat binge-eating, plus such treatments as cognitive behavioral therapy . A new treatment trial is examining behavioral and/or medication treatments for adults with loss-of-control eatingthe central feature of binge-eatingfollowing bariatric surgery.

One approach the program is studying is CBT for teens. The trial provides treatment over four months, first focusing on the eating pattern. To do this, they ask participants to write down everything they eat, what time they eat, how they were feeling, and what they were thinking at the time they ate. We look for patterns with the teen and help them to eat meals and snacks on a regular, predictable schedule, Lydecker says. Parents attend the sessions once a month as well, which is helpful for a discussion of such practical issues as how to buy groceries for a child who may insist on only eating certain foods.

Thinking about weight loss as a solution to problems in a childs life is like saying that weight is a problem, which is a message the child will likely internalize.Janet Lydecker, PhD, director of child eating and weight initiatives for Yales POWER Program

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How Bad Can An Eating Disorder Be

Eating Disorder statistics

  • 1 out of every 5 women is suffering from an eating disorder or unhealthy eating pattern.
  • Globally, 70 million people remain affected by different types of eating disorders. Yet, only a meager 10% are currently receiving treatment for it.
  • 9 out of 10 patients with eating disorders are teenagers or young adults .
  • The diet-related industry is a booming enterprise, earning $50 billion dollars per year.
  • 51% of pre-teens girls feel better when they are on a diet.
  • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate when compared to any other mental condition. For women in the age group of 12-24, the mortality rate of anorexia is 12 times more than any other leading cause of death.
  • Men and women adopt unhealthy means to cut down weight which mostly include smoking, skipping food, inherent fasting, taking a large number of laxatives, and vomiting any ingested food.
  • 10%-15% of all eating disorder patients are men. But, due to the social stigma and gender-stereotyping associated with these conditions, a majority of them dont seek treatment.
  • All eating disorders have one thing in common- unhealthy weight fluctuations. They either tend to gain or lose considerable body weight within a short span of time.
  • Excessive stomach cramps, menstrual irregularities , dizziness, abnormal sleeping patterns all these go hand-in-hand with eating disorders.

Other Specified Feeding Or Eating Disorder

A person with OSFED has many of the symptoms of other eating disorders but their condition doesn’t align with any specific disorder. People with OSFED commonly have very disruptive eating habits and can have a distorted body image. Around 1 in 3 people who seeks treatment for an eating disorder have OSFED.

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Avoiding Treatment For Eating Disorders Can Lead To Other Problems

Treatment can be critical for a multitude of reasons, one being that eating disorders have one of the highest mortality rates of any mental health illness. They can eventually lead to such serious physical complications as cancer, diabetes, and organ failure, if not treated. They are associated significantly with suicide attempts, adds Ivezaj.

Michael Lerner, MD, a Yale Medicine otolaryngologist, says cases that go untreated can lead to symptoms usually associated with such conditions as acid reflux. When the larynx or throat is continually exposed to acid and pepsin from the stomach, the result can be chronic inflammationand in the worst cases, eventual precancerous changes, he says.

In severe cases, frequent and vigorous retching or vomiting can lead to stricture of the esophagus, which can result in dysphagia , Dr. Lerner says. People with these conditions might find that they feel the urge to clear their throats frequently or notice a foreign body sensation in their throat. So, otherwise common symptoms such as voice change and throat sensitivity, which are typically attributed to allergies or acid reflux, could, in fact, also be due to an eating disorder, he says.;

History Of Anorexia Nervosa

Ask a Doctor: Eating disorders

In 1689, English physician Richard Morton described two cases of nervous consumption one in a boy and one in a girl. These are considered the earliest modern cases of the illness we now know as anorexia nervosa. He described the lack of a physical explanation for the loss of appetite and wasting and hence, determined this Consumption to be Nervous.

The next cases reported were about 200 years later. In 1873, Sir William Gull, another English physician, coined the term anorexia nervosa in published case reports. Also, in 1873, a French physician, Ernest Charles Lasegue published descriptions of individuals with anorexie hysterique.

The American doctor Hilde Bruch greatly influenced the understanding of modern anorexia nervosa. She published numerous articles and books. It was at this time that anorexia became more widely known.

More recent research has advanced our knowledge and some of Dr. Bruchs ideassuch as those that implicate early family dynamics as causing the disorderare now considered outdated. Earlier psychoanalytic explanations of the illness have been replaced as our understanding of the genetic and biological processes have increased.

Researchers Keel and Klump propose that the differing motivations for food refusal across historical time periods may represent culturally meaningful ways to understand a disorder that leaves peopledisproportionately, femalesfeeling unable and unwilling to eat.

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How Are Eating Disorders Treated

It is important to seek treatment early for eating disorders. People with eating disorders are at higher risk for suicide and medical complications. Some people with eating disorders may also have other mental disorders or problems with substance use.

Treatment plans for eating disorders include psychotherapy, medical care and monitoring, nutritional counseling, medications, or a combination of these approaches. Typical treatment goals include restoring adequate nutrition, bringing weight to a healthy level, reducing excessive exercise, and stopping binge-purge and binge-eating behaviors. Complete recovery is possible.

Specific forms of psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral approaches can be effective for treating specific eating disorders. For more about psychotherapies, visit .

Research also suggests that medications may help treat some eating disorders and co-occurring anxiety or depression related to eating disorders. Information about medications changes frequently, so talk to your health care professional and check the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website for the latest warnings, patient medication guides, or newly approved medications.

How Do I Find Treatment?

The NIMH is a federal research agency and cannot provide medical advice or practitioner referrals. However, there are tools and resources available at www.nimh.nih.gov/findhelp that may help you find a provider or treatment.

Common Types Of Eating Disorders

Although the term eating is in the name, eating disorders are about more than food. Theyre complex mental health conditions that often require the intervention of medical and psychological experts to alter their course.

These disorders are described in the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition .

In the United States alone, an estimated 20 million women and 10 million men have or have had an eating disorder at some point in their life .

This article describes 6 of the most common types of eating disorders and their symptoms.

Eating disorders are a range of psychological conditions that cause unhealthy eating habits to develop. They might start with an obsession with food, body weight, or body shape.

In severe cases, eating disorders can cause serious health consequences and may even result in death if left untreated.

Those with eating disorders can have a variety of symptoms. However, most include the severe restriction of food, food binges, or purging behaviors like vomiting or over-exercising.

Although eating disorders can affect people of any gender at any life stage, theyre most often reported in adolescents and young women. In fact, up to 13% of youth may experience at least one eating disorder by the age of 20 .

Summary Eating disorders are mental health conditions marked by an obsession with food or body shape. They can affect anyone but are most prevalent among young women.

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History Of Bulimia Nervosa

In contrast to anorexia nervosawhich appears to have been noted throughout historybulimia nervosa appears to be a more modern development. Bulimia nervosa was first described as a variant of anorexia in 1979 by British psychiatrist, Gerald Russell.

Russell himself believed that bulimia nervosa was a culture-bound condition and did not believe that extrapolating to historical cases of overeating and vomiting were relevant to our modern understanding of the disorder. Nevertheless, purging was a practice in ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Arabia, cultures in which it was used to prevent diseases believed to come from food. Physicians also prescribed it. Some early Roman emperors were observed to eat to excess and then vomit. Some writers have disagreed with Russell and propose this behavior was an early historical variant of bulimia nervosa, lackingas in the case of the early accounts of anorexia nervosathe modern drive for thinness.

Searches for descriptions of bulimia nervosa in the early medical literature have been less fruitful than those for anorexia nervosa.

Among the earliest cases that bear a clear resemblance to modern bulimia nervosa is the case of Nadia, described by Pierre Janet in 1903. She displayed dietary restriction, fear of fatness, and episodes of binge eating.

Another early description, the case of Patient D, was described by Mosche Wulff;in 1932. This patient engaged in periods of fasting alternating with periods of overeating and vomiting.

What Treatment Should I Be Offered

Eating Disorder Research Paper Outline

You can check what treatment and care is recommended for eating disorders on the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence website. NICE produce guidelines for how health professionals should treat certain conditions. You can download these from their website at www.nice.org.uk But the NHS does not have to follow these recommendations. They should have a good reason for not following them.

Medication should not be offered as the only treatment for any eating disorder.

Physical treatments like acupuncture, weight training and yoga should not be offered as treatment for eating disorders.

There are different types of psychological treatments for eating disorders, and you may be offered a combination of these. All of the treatments will include guided self-help and psycho-education.

Guided self-help programmeThis is a self-help programme. You will look at the thoughts, feelings and actions that you have in relation to your eating. You should also have some short support sessions to help you follow the programme.

Psycho-educationPsycho-education means that you will learn about your symptoms and how to manage them.

What is the treatment for anorexia?

When treating anorexia, a key goal is for you to reach a healthy weight. Your weight will be monitored. Doctors may share your weight with your family members or carers.

The therapy aims to help you to:

The therapy:

FPT looks at:

What is the treatment for bulimia?

What is the treatment for binge eating disorder

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Signs And Symptoms Of Eating Disorders

  • Being consumed by thoughts of food, weight, fat, or calories
  • Avoiding once favorite foods
  • Preferring to eat alone instead of with others so that no one can judge how little or how much is being eaten
  • Exercising excessively; for example, planning the day around;working out, setting unrealistic goals or ignoring signs of injury or fatigue
  • Finding more and more fault with ones body, or seeing it as looking very different from how other people say it does
  • Paying increased attention to other peoples bodies
  • Regularly using appetite suppressants, laxatives, diuretics, or enemas

How Do You Know Its An Eating Disorder

Eating disorders are more common than you might guess. National surveys estimate that 20 million women and 10 million men in America will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives. The behaviors associated with eating disorders vary.

The three most common ones are:

  • Anorexia: A condition characterized by weight loss and a distorted body image, in which the person has a fear of gaining weight. People with anorexia dramatically restrict the calories and types of foods they consume, may exercise compulsively and, in some cases, purge by vomiting or use laxatives.
  • Bulimia: A cycle of binging on food and compensating with such behaviors as self-induced vomiting. When a person is having a bulimic episode, they feel unable to control the amount of food they are eating.
  • Binge-eating disorder: This is similar to bulimia in that it involves episodes of uncontrolled eating, but it does not involve purging. Binge-eating disorder is the most common eating disorder and the one doctors know the least about at this point.

Some people dismiss the significance of their behaviors and may not even be fully aware that they have a problem that requires treatment, Lydecker says.

The study was based on the 2012-13 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, which included responses from people who met standard criteria for lifetime eating disorders and who answered questions regarding whether theyd sought help.

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General Eating Disorder Statistics

  • Eating disorders affect at least 9% of the population worldwide.1
  • 9% of the U.S. population, or 28.8 million Americans, will have an eating disorder in their lifetime.2
  • Less than 6% of people with eating disorders are medically diagnosed as underweight.1
  • 28-74% of risk for eating disorders is through genetic heritability.1
  • Eating disorders are among the deadliest mental illnesses, second only to opioid overdose.1
  • 10,200 deaths each year are the direct result of an eating disorderthats one death every 52 minutes.2
  • About 26% of people with eating disorders attempt suicide.1
  • The economic cost of eating disorders is $64.7 billion every year.2

What If I Am Not Happy With My Treatment

Using Mindfulness to Treat Eating Disorders

If you are not happy with your treatment you can:

  • talk to your doctor about your treatment and ask for a second opinion,
  • get an advocate to help you speak to your doctor,
  • contact Patient Advice and Liaison Service and see whether they can help, or
  • make a complaint.

There is more information about these options below:

Second opinion

If you are not happy with your treatment you should talk to your doctor and see if you can resolve the situation with them. You can refer to the NICE guidelines if you feel your doctor is not offering you the right treatment. See below for more about this.

You may feel that your treatment should be changed. If your doctor does not agree you could ask for a second opinion. You are not legally entitled to a second opinion, but your doctor might agree to it if it would help with treatment options.


An advocate is independent from the NHS. This means that the NHS doesnt employ them. Advocacy services are free to use. Usually a charity will run an advocacy service. An advocate is there to support you.

They can help to make your voice heard when you are trying to sort problems. They may be able to help you to write a letter to the NHS or go to a meeting with you.

There may be a local advocacy service in your area which you can contact for support. You can search online for a local service. You can also call our advice service on 0300 5000 927 or email us at and we can look for you.

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