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Eating disorders: correctly interpret symptoms of anorexia and bulimia

Eating disorders: correctly interpret symptoms of anorexia and bulimia


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Address suspicions of anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder carefully
Eating disorders are a common complaint that can have dramatic health effects. However, sufferers often have difficulty acknowledging their illness. If family members and friends find signs of an eating disorder, they are encouraged to take action. However, this should be done in the most sensitive way possible and not in a confrontational form.

If the thoughts constantly revolve around your own weight and figure, eating behavior takes up a lot of space in life, is eaten secretly and there is permanent dissatisfaction with your own body, this can be an indication of an eating disorder, reports the Medical Center for Quality in medicine (ÄZQ). A withdrawal of family and friends can also often be seen. If there are signs of this in the circle of friends or with family members, it is advisable to carefully address those affected to possible problems.

Three main types of eating disorders
According to the ÄZQ, around 14 out of 1,000 women and five out of 1,000 men in Germany suffer from an eating disorder. These are serious diseases in which the relationship to your own body and the handling of food is disturbed. A distinction is made between the three main forms of bulimia, anorexia and binge eating disorder (uncontrolled eating attacks).

Anorexia is characterized by constant weighing and counting calories due to a panicked fear of gaining weight. Those affected also exercise excessively or take diet products and develop significant underweight as a result of a drastic weight loss. Despite being underweight, they feel too fat and "do not understand that their behavior is pathological," the ÄZQ said.

The bulimia (bulimia nervosa) is characterized by binge eating, in which large portions are swallowed up secretly and hastily, the experts report. After eating, a guilty conscience follows and "in order to get rid of the calories, those affected counteract, for example with vomiting, fasting, dieting, medication or excessive exercise," explains the ÄZQ.

Binge eating disorder is the term for uncontrolled eating bouts in people with disturbed hunger and satiety who do not take any countermeasures. According to the ÄZQ, those affected are “often overweight or obese; they suffer from the binge eating and disgust themselves. "

Eating disorders often difficult to identify
According to the experts, the three different forms of eating disorders can also merge. It is often difficult to tell when abnormal eating behavior turns into a pathological form. With its brochure "Unsatisfied with the figure - do I have an eating disorder?", The ÄZQ offers appropriate help to those affected and their relatives.

Weight loss and constant use of the toilet as warning signals
If signs of an eating disorder are noticed in the family or among friends, the concern should be addressed sensitively, advises Beate Herpertz-Dahlmann, director of the Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy of Child and Adolescence at the University Hospital Aachen, in a message from the news agency "dpa ". Anorexia can be recognized by the weight loss or constant weighing, for example, in bulimia, going to the toilet after each meal can be an indication.

Therapy with improved treatment success
If sufferers face their disease and start treatment, many have good chances of recovery. "More than every second eating disorder can be treated successfully," said the ÄZQ. The aim of the treatment is to acquire and maintain healthy eating habits in order to normalize and stabilize the weight. For this it is also important to recognize and treat existing psychological stresses. Eating disorders can often be successfully combated with psychotherapy. Today, according to Beate Herpertz-Dahlmann, the overall cure rates are much better than 15 years ago.

Impending health problems
Girls and young women are most often affected by an eating disorder, but boys and men can also develop it, the ÄZQ experts explain. Possible consequences of malnutrition include muscle loss, hair loss, missed menstrual periods or erectile dysfunction. Repeated vomiting can damage teeth and esophagus, and a malnourished body is less resistant to infection. Above all, anorexia “can also be fatal,” warns the ÄZQ. If overweight as a result of the binge eating disorder, joint pain, high blood pressure or diabetes are possible consequences.

Help offers and contacts
If there is suspicion of an eating disorder, the ÄZQ experts recommend that you contact the pediatrician or general practitioner, a special clinic or advice center for eating disorders or a psychotherapist directly. No transfer is required for this. A first point of contact could also be the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA), which offers anonymous telephone advice on 0221 89 20 31. Here, the experts also provide relatives of those affected with advice. (fp)

Author and source information


Video: How an eating disorder affects the way a person thinks (May 2022).


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