By Kevin P. Caputo, M.D.
More than 30 million Americans of all ages and all sexes suffer from a eating disorder. This means that you probably know someone who is suffering from anorexia, bulimia, binge eating or a similar problem right now. Whether you recognize that they have a problem or not is another problem because many people with eating disorders are very effective at masking the symptoms, at least for a while.
Eating disorders are not only prevalent, they are also very dangerous. Someone dies as a direct result of a eating disorder every 62 minutes – the highest death rate of any mental health problem.
Eating disorders are not a "lifestyle choice"
There is not a single cause of a eating disorder. It's a complex mix of biological, psychological, social and interpersonal issues. It is important to keep in mind that a eating disorder is not a lifestyle choice that someone pursues. It's a disease.
People with eating disorders can have an imbalance of chemicals in the brain that control things like hunger, appetite and digestion. In addition, eating disorders often manifest themselves in families, suggesting that there might be a genetic component to the disease.
Psychological factors such as low self-esteem and lack of control can also contribute to a eating disorder. Controlling when, what and how much they eat is a way for victims to regain that sense of control over their lives. Many people with eating disorders also suffer from other mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
Social and cultural pressures are also factors in eating disorders. People with a eating disorder can be overwhelmed with perfect body images that they see in the media, which usually represent only a very narrow view of the body. ideal beauty. Eating disorders can occur in part as a way to achieve this ideal.
Occasionally, people with eating disorders also have interpersonal problems to manage. They may have suffered physical, sexual or emotional abuse, or been teased about their height or weight.
Disorders of the common feeding and their treatment
The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder (BED).
Someone with anorexia nervosa may think that they are overweight despite being extremely inadequate. They will have an obsessive fear of gaining weight and will severely limit their food intake. The health consequences can be serious, including brain damage, organ failure, bone loss, heart problems, infertility and a high risk of death.
Bulimia is characterized by periods of binging and purging. The victim can get stuffed by overeating, which they then follow up with a purge cycle through forced vomiting, exercise, and laxative abuse. Bulimia can cause stomach problems and heart problems due to electrolyte imbalances.
Bulimia binge involves the same type of binge eating that we see with bulimia, but without purging. For this reason, people with binge eating disorder can be overweight or obese and suffer from related problems like diabetes and heart disease.
The treatment of eating disorders is as complex as the conditions themselves and requires a holistic approach. Physicians will monitor and treat the health problems created by the eating disorder, therapists will help solve the underlying psychological issues and nutritionists will provide a diet plan to help the patient return to the problems. healthy eating practices. Family, friends and support groups will also be an integral and indispensable component of successful long-term recovery.
About the author
Dr. Caputo believes that a trusting and open relationship is important to facilitate the healing process. He believes that it is important that patients be educated to create the best result.
To make an appointment with Dr. Caputo, call 610-874-5257.