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Eating disorders are complex mental health disorders characterized by severe and persistent disturbance in eating behaviors and associated distressing thoughts and emotions. Eating disorders are about much more than food and can seriously affect physical, psychological, and social functioning. Types of eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, avoidant restrictive food intake disorder, other specified feeding and eating disorder, pica, and rumination disorder.

There is a commonly held misconception that eating disorders are a lifestyle choice. Research indicates that in the United States alone, an estimated 20 million women and 10 million men have an eating disorder at some point in their lives. Contrary to popular belief, eating disorders do not only affect teenage girls. They occur in people of all genders, ages, races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic statuses. They are, however, more commonly diagnosed in women.

At Atlanta Center for Mental Health, we have years of experience managing and treating eating disorders and providing clients with the tools needed to build a healthier future. Eating disorders can be life-threatening. If you or a loved one have an eating disorder, don’t delay getting help. We provide you with a variety of different dual diagnosis treatments, to help you live a better life. Contact us at 833.625.0458 to learn more.

Eating Disorder Symptoms Depend on Different Types of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are a range of psychological conditions that cause unhealthy eating habits. They might start with an obsession with food, body weight, or body shape. The symptoms vary depending on the type of eating disorder. Following is a review of the symptoms of the most common and well-known eating disorders.

Anorexia Nervosa

People with anorexia nervosa, the most well-known eating disorder, generally view themselves as overweight, even if they’re dangerously underweight. They tend to constantly monitor their weight, avoid eating certain foods, and severely restrict their calories.

Common symptoms of anorexia nervosa include:

  • Being considerably underweight compared with people of similar age and height
  • Very restricted eating patterns
  • Intense fear of gaining weight or persistent behaviors to avoid gaining weight, despite being underweight
  • Relentless pursuit of thinness and unwillingness to maintain a healthy weight
  • A strong influence of body weight or perceived body shape on self-esteem
  • Distorted body image, including denial of being seriously underweight

Those with anorexia nervosa frequently have symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. For instance, they are often preoccupied with constant thoughts about food or may obsessively collect recipes or hoard food.

Bulimia Nervosa

People with bulimia nervosa have recurrent and frequent episodes of eating vast amounts of food and feeling a lack of control over these episodes. Binge-eating episodes are followed by behavior that compensates for the overeating and can include forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, excessive exercise, or a combination of these behaviors. People with bulimia nervosa may be slightly underweight, average, or overweight.

Common symptoms of bulimia nervosa include:

  • Chronically inflamed and sore throat
  • Swollen salivary glands in the neck and jaw area
  • Worn tooth enamel and increasingly sensitive and decaying teeth as a result of exposure to stomach acid
  • Acid reflux disorder and other gastrointestinal problems
  • Intestinal distress and irritation from laxative abuse
  • Severe dehydration from purging of fluids
  • Electrolyte imbalance (too low or too high levels of sodium, calcium, potassium, and other minerals) can lead to stroke or heart attack

Despite being of average weight, people with bulimia have an intense fear of gaining weight. Their self-esteem is strongly linked to their body image.

Binge Eating Disorder

People with binge eating disorders eat large amounts of food in short periods during which they typically feel they have no control. Unlike bulimia nervosa, binge eating episodes are not followed by purging behaviors. As a result, people with binge-eating disorders are overweight or obese.

Common symptoms of binge eating disorder include:

  • Eating substantial amounts of food in a specific amount of time, such as 2 hours
  • Eating even when full or not hungry
  • Eating fast during binge episodes
  • Eating until uncomfortably full
  • Eating alone or in secret to avoid embarrassment
  • Feeling distressed, ashamed, or guilty about eating
  • Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss

Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States. People with binge eating disorders are at higher risk of medical complications, including type 2 diabetes, heart attack, and stroke.

Contact Atlanta Center for Mental Health for Eating Disorder Treatment

At the Atlanta Center for Mental Health, we understand that admitting to an eating disorder and seeking treatment takes courage. Recovery from eating disorders is not easy but is possible with the right support system in place. Using an individualized treatment plan and a range of evidence-based therapies, our staff will help you learn to manage your eating disorder and regain stability in your life. Call Atlanta Center for Mental Health at 833.625.0458 or use our secure online form to learn more about treatment for eating disorders.