Eating disorder treatment programs help people stabilise their weight within a healthy range and develop positive methods of weight and lifestyle management. This then leads into working on the underlying psychological issues that lead to the disorder. Whilst they affect mainly females, eating disorders can be experienced by males as well with the onset of symptoms generally developing in adolescence but it can also happen in early adulthood.
The exact cause of eating disorders is unknown however there are certain characteristics present in all cases of people developing a disorder:
Low self-esteem, anxiety, self-criticism and perfectionism
Changes in life circumstances e.g. breakdown in relationships, trauma, abuse and neglect
Biological factors such as hormonal or chemical imbalances
Eating disorders fall into 4 categories:
1. Anorexia Nervosa
This is a severe emotional disorder that impacts on the mind and damages the body through starvation. It is the third most chronic illness for adolescent girls in Australia (behind obesity and asthma).
2. Bulimia Nervosa
This is characterised by frequent episodes of binge eating followed by purging behaviours such as vomiting, laxatives, diuretics or excessive exercise in a frantic effort to lose weight.
3. EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified)
This is where sufferers’ individual symptoms do not fit the criteria for either Anorexia or Bulimia. Sufferers’ symptoms are any mixture of the above criteria.
4. Binge Eating Disorder
This is characterised by compulsive overeating with no attempt to avoid weight gain.