Eating Disorders: Types, Symptoms and Treatment

Eating disorders often occur when individuals experience extreme eating conditions marked by disturbed behavioral characteristics. For instance, the affected person may undergo a session of extreme distortion in eating behavior like significant reduction in the amount of food taken, unnecessarily too much eating. These behavioral changes in eating may lead to overwhelming concern in the shape or weight of the body. In most cases, the disorders start by eating either excess or small quantity of food than usual. The condition gets out of control and even the affected person finds it difficult to reverse to the normal. Due to the complex nature of eating disorders, most of the scientific research that has been conducted in the past have not conclusively studied all the aspects of the condition owing to the fact the social and behavioral underpinnings of the condition are not clear. This essay explores the two main types of eating disorders in terms of symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

According to the research study conducted by Hudson, et al. (349), this type of eating disorder is often characterized by growing fear to increase weight, interference with the body image, reluctance to maintain a recommended weight of the body as well as the overall effect of being emaciated. The study carried out on girls and young women also indicate that the normal menstrual flow is interfered with since it may stop altogether. In addition, those people who are under anorexia nervosa will often lose their weight because they prefer to diet as well as carrying put strenuous exercises. When some victims of anorexia nervosa were interviewed on how they work towards reducing the adverse effects of overeating, they replied that they sometimes induce vomiting to reduce the effect of food taken in their biological system (Hudson et al. 352). Most anorexia nervosa patients are often psychologically convinced that they are overweight and they seem to be obsessed with the desire to reduce their body weight. Biederman et al. in a five year study of eating disorders among girls concluded that patients suffering from anorexia nervosa are very sensitive about the quantity and type of food they are eating (303). Although some individuals may recover after seeking medical attention, the possibility of relapses cannot be overruled.

Other research studies have revealed that anorexia nervosa can increase the chances of dying ten-fold among those who struggle with the illnesses compared to those who are not suffering from the condition (Crow 1344). Moreover, the study identified the main causes of death among anorexia patients include suicide, cardio-vascular diseases and significant lack of balance of the important metabolic fluids. Besides, anorexia patients also find themselves struggling with other physical and psychological conditions especially when immediate medical attention is not sought.

In a research study comprising of more than two hundred participants who were already suffering from anorexia nervosa, it was found that more than 50 percent of the patients had other accompanying complications such as neurological complications, anxiety, stress and depression in addition to cardiac arrest (Crow 1345). Besides, most patients were physically impaired. Some of the additional symptoms of anorexia include but not limited to osteoporosis, dry and pale skin, anemic conditions, constipation and reduced blood pressure.

A research study by Crow (342) argues that although the treatment of anorexia can be advanced to affected patients, certain considerations such as the psychological issues leading the person to avoid food should be addressed in advance. Antidepressants and mood stabilizers have been suggested in the treatment of anorexia. These medications may reduce the symptoms related to anxiety and mood. Nonetheless, antidepressants have been ruled out as ineffective by recent studies (Hudson et al. 357). Moreover, the initial phase of restoring the health of the affected person has been found to be quite tricky since no single medication is effective (Hudson, et al. 358). Hence, psychotherapy is a better alternative when treating anorexia nervosa.

Nonetheless, research study towards the prevention and treatment using the novel approach is quite promising. An online mitigation program has been found to be functional by some research studies in assisting women from developing anorexia nervosa.

On the other hand, bulimia nervosa patients will find themselves eating excessive amounts of food. They lack the ability to control the amount of food intake. In order to reduce the effects of over eating, a research study by (Crow 1343) found out that some bulimia nervosa patients might attempt to purge themselves through vomiting in order to reverse the undesired effects of overeating. Most patients with bulimia have also been found to be psychologically discounted with their body image and would try to do anything possible to go back to normal. Furthermore, bulimia patients often suffer from accompanying psychological illnesses in addition to other symptoms like chronic sore throat, kidney problems as well as a reflux disorder affecting the gastric and esophagus systems. When bulimic patients were surveyed in a research study carried out by Crow (344), it was found that they have a high rate of mortality similar to their anorexia nervosa counterparts compared to people who do not suffer from the illness. Treating bulimic patients may entail the use o both medication and psychotherapy. The binging and purging behavioral patterns common in bulimic patients can be effectively treated using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

In recap, it is imperative to note that the various types of eating disorders namely anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating are usually associated with extreme eating behavioral patterns. Patients find themselves unable to control their eating habits which may either be too much or too little. Although treatments for the conditions exist, psychotherapy has been preferred to the use of antidepressants due to the negative effect and ineffectiveness of the latter.


Biederman, Joseph Charles et al. “Are girls with ADHD at risk for eating disorders? Results from a controlled, five-year prospective study”. Dev Behav Pediatr. 28.4 2007: 302-307.

Crow, J.Scott et al. “Increased mortality in bulimia nervosa and other eating disorders”. Am J Psychiatry, 166.12 2009:1342-1346.

Hudson, James et al. “The prevalence and correlates of eating disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication.” Biological Psychiatry, 61.3 2007: 348-358.

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