Eating Disorders: Causes and Treatment

These disorders may be called food-related disorders, but they are complex psychological disorders that affect a person's relationship with food. There are many types and degrees of eating disorders. This article will discuss the most common types of eating disorders and the causes and treatment methods of eating disorders.

Published on:Mar 3rd 2024
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What is an eating disorder?

Eating disorders are defined as a group of mental conditions that cause unhealthy eating habits and result in an obsession with food, weight, and body shape. Eating disorders are among the most complex and dangerous mental illnesses, as they may lead to death if left untreated. It is one of the most severe mental health conditions that may cause humans to impact the body's health directly.

Types of eating disorders

Anorexia nervosa

It is perhaps the most common type of food disorder, especially in girls. This disorder can be summarized as refraining from eating, following harsh diets that lead to excessive weight loss, reaching extreme thinness that may pose a health risk, and causing death if not treated and treating complications.

Bulimia nervosa 

These are extreme cases of overeating, consuming large amounts of food, regret, and feeling shy from others, leading people with this disorder to deliberately vomit, fast from food, taking laxatives or weight loss medications.

Binge eating disorder

This disorder is very similar to Bulimia nervosa but without vomiting and laxative consumption. People who suffer from this disorder eat unhealthy foods and consume large amounts of them, which causes severe diseases such as high blood sugar, pressure, and cholesterol.

Night Eating Syndrome

People with this disorder wake up at night and overeat food without feeling hungry, then go back to sleep and may not remember to eat at night the next day.


People with this rare and strange disorder consume non-food items such as soil, snow, soap, or starch. It is a disorder that affects children, adolescents, and adults alike. This condition affects people with developmental disorders such as autism or with mental conditions such as psychosis. They are usually susceptible to food poisoning and kidney and digestive problems.

Eating disorders symptoms

  • Not eating
  • Severe weight loss
  • Overeating
  • Intentional Vomiting
  • Anxiety and stress when eating, especially in public
  • Stressing about weight, body shape, number of calories, and fat and sugar amounts.
  • Feeling lethargic and constantly wanting to sleep
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Frequent abdominal pain
  • Preparing food for others and refusing to eat
  • Excessive exercise
  • Missed periods, especially in teenage girls.
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Weak immunity
  • Dry skin and hair breakage
  • Muscle weakness
  • Persistently feeling cold
  • Difficulty concentrating and excessive forgetfulness.

Causes of eating disorders

There is no single clear cause in all people suffering from eating disorders. It has been found that several factors lead to eating disorders, most notably:

  • Genetic factors: such as family history of eating disorders or other mental conditions.
  • Family Effect: When the family obsesses over weight, looks, and dieting.
  • Depression, anxiety disorder, or other mental illness.
  • Brain chemistry: An imbalance in neurotransmitter levels such as serotonin and dopamine.
  • Body Dysmorphia: when people are unsatisfied with their shape, they are unsatisfied with thinness. They are not happy with their weight, which leads them to follow extreme eating habits to reach satisfaction with their shape.
  • Bullying: if a person is bullied because of their weight, they will strive to change the form that caused the bullying.
  • Surrender to obsessive and negative thoughts.
  • Working in a profession with harsh conditions in terms of weight and shape.
  • Physical abuse or sexual abuse.


Whatever the causes of eating disorders vary, it is essential to treat them with mental health specialists. A psychiatrist and a psychologist must be consulted to obtain one of the appropriate treatment options, namely:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy by either a psychiatrist or psychotherapist.
  • Medication, which is particularly effective when there are other mental illnesses such as acute depression and anxiety disorder, shows that the use of antidepressants helps treat eating disorders.
  • Nutritional counseling can be done by visiting a nutritionist to obtain information about healthy nutrition and the necessary calories for good health and gaining healthy eating habits.
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