Eating Disorders: Meaning, Causes & Treatments

Eating Disorders: Meaning, Causes & Treatments

What is an Eating Disorder?

Food is a person’s best friend. You might often enjoy hogging a specific dish or treating yourself at times of celebration with joy, but sometimes this connection might take a 360-degree turn and the underlying emotion might be of sadness due to emotional distress or negative ruminating thoughts and emotions. People who deal with it are characterized by disturbances in behaviors, thoughts, and attitudes toward food, eating, and body weight or shape. Eating disorders negatively affect a person’s quality of life and have serious medical, psychiatric, and psychosocial impacts. There are many types of eating disorders than the three most commonly heard about, i.e., Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, & Binge Eating Disorder; there are also, Pica, Rumination Disorder, and Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder.

Causes of Eating Disorder

There are multiple reasons that contribute to eating disorders. A variety of factors, including genetics, personality traits, perceived internal and external pressures to be thin due to cultural ideals, and increased promotion of an ideal body type via social media platforms, have all contributed to this trend. Recently, it has been discovered that brain structures and biology, including the levels of brain messaging chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine, may also be responsible for the development of eating disorders.

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Is there any Solution for Eating Disorders?

Treatment options are wide and accessible for someone who is dealing with an eating disorder. It allows them to connect with their bodies in a much gentler and milder form. Having been diagnosed with an eating disorder may generate feelings of shame and guilt in an individual’s life as they try to deal with it with every ounce of emotional regulation that they have. Sometimes, it might become too heavy to gather oneself up and might require external support to emerge as their best selves. It is crucial to note that eating disorders frequently have an effect on how people feel or relate to food, which is unrelated to their size or weight, so there can be times when there is more than meets the eye!

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Treatments for Eating Disorders

Treatments always begin once a person is diagnosed with having an eating disorder. Once symptoms are ruled out and a diagnosis is made, it is always advised to visit an expert who can help give a clear picture of it. A primary care physician (i.e., a family physician) and a mental health counsellor are two healthcare professionals who can diagnose eating disorders. A doctor might review your symptoms, conduct a physical exam, and request a blood test. A psychologist or psychiatrist may carry out a psychological assessment to get a full picture of one’s eating habits and beliefs.

For a holistic healing purpose, the best treatment options for eating disorders may include a combination of medical or drug treatment, therapeutic, psychotherapeutic, or residential treatment because of the variety of eating disorders and each individual’s unique case, the severity of symptoms, and timeline.

The options available are as follows,

Psychotherapy- The most crucial element of eating disorder treatment is psychological counselling. It entails scheduling regular appointments with a psychologist or other mental health specialist. It might help you in developing healthy ways of coping, problem-solving and monitoring ones eating habits and becoming mindful of the same. Combinations of different therapies including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Identifies the thought patterns and beliefs contributing to eating disorder.
  • Family-Based Therapy (FBT) It may also be referred to as the Maudsley Method. It is used for children or adolescents. In FBT, family members play an important role in maintaining and restoring a healthy eating pattern.
  • Group CBT Common goals allow an individual to open up by realizing they are not alone in it.
  • Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) It is used to treat binge eating disorder or bulimia. IPT explores the problem in context of social and interpersonal relationships.
  • Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) Imbibes skills to change the behaviours associated with eating disorder.
  • Cognitive Remediation Therapy (CRT) Promotes big-picture thinking and mental flexibility, used for treatment of anorexia nervosa.
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)- Focuses on changing ones’ actions as opposed to their thoughts or feelings.

Nutritional Counselling– A registered dietitian helps in training and helping make informed choices for a healthy living.

Medications- Individuals dealing with eating disorders may also struggle with anxiety or depression. Antidepressants and other drugs may aid in the improvement of these signs and symptoms. This helps in evolving one’s perception for the better.

Hospitalization- Many levels of care are available for the treatment of an eating disorder. Intensive outpatient or outpatient

  • Partial Hospitalization/ Outpatient therapy (once a week counselling)
  • Residential/ Intensive outpatient therapy (therapy several times in a week)
  • Inpatient therapy (Hospitalization)

Knowing that help is available and that there are many services that may help you obtain help if you have an eating issue is always crucial. Be mindful about seeking treatment, as it is a crucial first step on your road to recovery.

“The size of your body has nothing to do with your worth. Nothing.”
-Gluck, S.

Our mental Wellness Experts at can equip you with quite a few skills to deal with day-to-day stressors.

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