Psychological Disorders Part 4

Introduction

In Psychological Disorders Part 3, Dissociative and Somatic Symptom Disorders were discussed. These are the fewer known disorders yet very interesting to know about. (Trigger Warning: this article talks about eating disorders)

Eating Disorders

These disorders arise because of obsessive concern over weight which results in a disruptive eating pattern that then affects the person’s physical and mental health.

Anorexia Nervosa is also commonly known as anorexia which is an eating disorder wherein the person has an abnormally low body weight accompanied by an intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of their weight. People with this disorder tend to take extreme measures to control their weight such as restricting their food consumption. The distorted image of the body can be a result of depression, anxiety, or emotional trauma. The physical symptoms are severe weight loss, dehydration, insomnia, weakness, dizziness, constipation, breaking hair, dry skin, bluish tinge to fingers, absence of menstruation, irregular heartbeat, and inability to tolerate cold. Some behavioural symptoms are eating only low-calorie food, trying to hide their body with baggy and loose clothes, skipping meals, avoiding situations where they have to eat, avoiding situations where they might have to show their body, and extreme exercising. Some emotional symptoms are poor self-esteem, agitation, depression, social isolation, and anxiety.

Bulimia Nervosa is also commonly known as bulimia is a serious and life-threatening eating disorder. People with this disorder secretly binge eat large amounts of food without any control over how much they are eating, then they panic and purge to get rid of those extra calories. There are two types of bulimia, purging and non-purging bulimia. To get rid of these extra calories, they use different methods such as self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, weight-loss supplements, people with purging bulimia use these methods whereas people with non-purging bulimia follow strict dieting or excessive exercise. The physical symptoms can be life-threatening, some of these symptoms are weight fluctuation of 2 to 10 kgs in a week, bloodshot eyes which means eyes with busted blood vessels, chapped lips because of dehydration, scars on the knuckles from inducing vomiting, swollen lymph nodes, and mouth sensitivity because of receding gums and eroding tooth enamel. Some behavioural symptoms are consistent worry about weight and appearance, going to the bathroom right after eating, eating till it is uncomfortable, excessive exercising, not eating in front of others and restricting calories. The emotional symptoms of bulimia are the same as for anorexia.

The DSM-5 has moved the eating disorder of infants and children to the same category. Rumination Disorder is also known as rumination syndrome and it usually occurs in babies and people with developmental disabilities. Children and adults who have high levels of stress have a greater risk of having this disorder. This is a feeding and eating disorder in which the undigested food comes back up from the person’s stomach to their mouth. The symptoms for this are regurgitating on a regular basis, dental problems, chapped lips, weight loss, and digestive problems.

Pica is an eating disorder in which people eat non-food items like clay, dirt, and flaking paint. This disorder is more common in children but can also occur in adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The symptoms for this are upset stomach, bowel problems like constipation or diarrhea, stomach pain, and blood in the stool. If the consumption of non-food items continues, symptoms like lead poisoning, injuries to teeth, infections, and intestinal blockage can occur.

Binge-Eating Disorder (BED) is a feeding and eating disorder in which people eat a large amount of food in a short amount of time even if they might not be hungry. This can be triggered by emotional stress. The person may feel a sense of relief during the binge but will feel shame afterward. The symptoms are eating to a point that is uncomfortably full, eating more rapidly than normal, feeling of disgust with oneself, eating large amounts without feeling hungry, and eating alone because of feeling embarrassed.

Conclusion

It is difficult to figure out what causes these eating disorders but medical experts believe it is a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors. Genetics plays a role, if you have a family member who suffers from one, you are more likely to be diagnosed with the same. Emotional well-being plays a huge role, people who have experienced trauma or other mental health conditions are more likely to develop one. And finally, societal pressure plays another big role, the western ideal of body image has equated thinness with success and so people try to achieve thinness. If you have any eating disorder, it is important to know it is not your fault and you need to consult a psychologist immediately to get better.

References

Note: this is just Part 4 of the Psychological Disorders series.