There are many types of eating disorders. Anorexia is the most common one.
Classifying Eating Disorders
Philippe Jacquet & Associates provide holistic and individualised eating disorder treatment services in London and other locations. If you are struggling with an eating disorder, be it anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder, do not hesitate to reach out for support.
Medical and mental health professionals have recognised eating disorders as a formal diagnosis since the early 1970s, although the behaviours themselves have been present since the beginning of time. Symptoms and behaviours of anorexia are described in works from the 12th century and the binging and purging associated with bulimia, was actually a routine activity of the wealthy during feasts in the Middle Ages.
With the development of specific diagnostic criteria, medical and psychological treatment options were developed. Today, eating disorder treatment is seen as a team approach, addressing the medical issues, as well as the underlying psychological factors that are driving the behaviour.
What causes eating disorders?
The causes of eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, are not fully known, but the Mayo Clinic advises that, as with all mental health problems, genetics and psychological and emotional health are thought to play a role. There are also certain risk factors that can make it more likely that an individual will suffer from an eating disorder including, but not limited to, a family history of eating disorders, other mental health issues, stress, and previous periods of dieting or starvation. They can affect people of any age, race, gender, or socioeconomic class.
Anorexia is perhaps the most commonly understood of the eating disorders. It can be found in both males and females from pre-teens to older adults and tends to be progressive in nature if not treated.
Anorexia is literally self-starvation where the individual becomes obsessed with their body shape, size, and appearance. With the starvation also comes a distorted body image that doesn’t allow the individual to see them as thin or anorexic, instead they see only a heavy person that needs to continue to restrict their food intake.
Anorexia can be fatal as the extreme caloric restriction often leads to breakdown of all systems and organs in the body.
Likewise, bulimia is a condition where the individual is obsessed with their body shape and size. However, a person with bulimia will diet and then binge, often eating thousands of calories in a single meal. Then, feeling extreme guilt, self-anger, and shame, they enter the purge part of the cycle. This can include the use of laxatives, diuretics, self-induced vomiting, or extreme exercising and fasting to try to offset the calories consumed.
Bulimia is a very serious medical condition. Often, people with bulimia are not overly thin and may even be overweight or obese, which makes this an often overlooked eating disorder.
Binge Eating Disorder and Compulsive Overeating
Binge eating disorder or compulsive eating is different from bulimia in that there is no purge side to the eating cycle. Individuals that engage in compulsive eating often do so to numb themselves from negative emotions, such as stress, anxiety, fear, depression and sadness. These feelings are often brought on by negative self-image and a desire to obtain a perfect body through diets that are unsuccessful or simply create more stress and increase the risk of binging. People that have challenges with compulsive overeating feel out of control during the binge eating and, despite wanting to stop the behaviour, are unable to do so.
Binge eating typically includes hiding the amount of food consumed, eating only in private, eating very rapidly and consuming foods that are high in calories, fat and carbohydrates during a binge, with chronic dieting between binges.
Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS)
Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) is the most commonly diagnosed eating disorder because it is a catch-all diagnosis. Individuals can have this diagnosis when there are some symptoms of anorexia or bulimia but not enough for a diagnosis. It is also the diagnosis if a patient were to have symptoms of both anorexia and bulimia or compulsive overeating.
EDNOS is also the diagnosis that occurs when a person has an atypical set of behaviours that are related to weight control, body image, and behaviours that are not controllable by the individual.
As with all eating disorders, a diagnosis of EDNOS will require psychological treatment to address the underlying mental health issues, as well as medical support for current and future health conditions.
Eating disorders in children
Eating disorders most often develop in the teen and young adult years, which is what we see reflected in the media, but this focus can mean that we miss eating disorders that occur in other age brackets. In children, eating disorders can be more likely to develop if they see their caregiver dieting a lot, if they access harmful materials about body image and weight online, or if they do not have a healthy body image reinforced by their caregivers.
How can psychotherapy help?
There are many therapies that are used in eating disorder treatment, often in combination with each other, from counselling to art therapy. Psychotherapy, which is sometimes called the talking therapy, allows patients a safe and supportive space to explore their issues with food, as well as discuss additional treatment options. At our eating disorder clinic in London, therapists will use a variety of treatments to see what works best for the individual, because what works for one person, may not work for another.
Art therapy for overeating
This can be a great way to heal your relationship with food. Here are some eating disorder art therapy ideas to help with overeating: