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Eating Disorders: One of most looked down upon mental health condition; Why is it still in the shadows

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Eating disorders, a series of psychological conditions that cause unhealthy eating habits which may start from a simple obsession with food, body weight, or body shape. However, in serious cases of eating disorders, one may face death if left untreated. Even though the term ‘eating’ is in the name, eating disorders are more complex mental health conditions that often require the intervention of medical and psychological experts to alter their course.

Studies show that eating disorders can affect anyone but are most prevalent among adolescents and young women. The symptoms of eating disorders range from the severe restriction of food, food binges, or purging behaviors like vomiting or over-exercising. Eating disorders may be caused by several factors, including genetics, brain biology, personality traits, and cultural ideals.

Credits: Felicity Yick

There are six types of commonly known eating disorders:

(1) Anorexia Nervosa: People with anorexia nervosa may limit their food intake or compensate for it through various exerting behaviors. He is hugely anxious about gaining weight, even when severely underweight.

(2) Bulimia nervosa: People having bulimia nervosa eat large amounts of food in short periods, then purge and fears of gaining weight despite being at a normal weight.

(3) Binge eating disorder: It is believed to be one of the most common eating disorder, people with this disorder regularly and uncontrollably consume large amounts of food in short periods of time.

(4) Pica: Even though this disorder is also common in all age groups, it is mostly seen in children, pregnant women and mentally unstable individuals. People with pica tend to crave and eat non-food substances.

(5) Rumination disorder: This disorder can affect people at any stage of life. People with the condition generally ruminate the food they’ve recently swallowed. Then, they chew it again and either swallow it or spit it out.

(6) Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder: ARFID causes people to show a lack of interest in the intake of food, mostly due to an intense distaste for how certain foods look, smell, or taste.

We need to treat it just like any other mental disorder rather than stigmatizing it. It’s time to help those who need it rather than mocking them. It’s time to create a better and safe place.

Visuals by: Anupal Deuri Bharali

Article by Puhar Pallab Baruah, The North-Eastern Chronicle

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