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  • Globally, about 10% of people will experience an eating disorder during their lifetime.

  • And yet, eating disorders are profoundly misunderstood.

  • Misconceptions about everything from symptoms to treatment make it difficult to navigate an eating disorder or support someone you love as they do so.

  • So let's walk through what is and isn't true about eating disorders.

  • First, what is an eating disorder?

  • Eating disorders are a range of psychiatric conditions characterized by these main patterns of behavior:

  • Restricting food intake, bingeing or rapidly consuming large amounts of food, and purging or eliminating calories through vomiting, laxatives, excessive exercise, and other harmful means.

  • An eating disorder can involve any one or any combination of these behaviors.

  • For example, people living with anorexia usually restrict the amount of food they eat, while bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by recurrent binges and purges.

  • Importantly, these behaviors determine whether someone has an eating disorder.

  • You can't tell whether someone has an eating disorder from their weight alone.

  • People who weigh what medical professionals might consider a "healthy range" can have eating disorders,

  • including severe ones that damage their long-term health in invisible ways, including osteoporosis, anemia, heart damage, and kidney damage.

  • Just as we can't tell whether someone has an eating disorder based on their weight alone, we can't get rid of these disorders simply by eating differently.

  • That's because eating disorders are, at their core, psychiatric illnesses.

  • From what we understand, they involve a disruption to someone's self-perception.

  • Most people who experience them are severely critical of themselves and report many self-perceived flaws.

  • They may use eating to try to regain some control over an internal sense of chaos.

  • We still don't know exactly what causes eating disorders.

  • There likely isn't a single cause, but a combination of genetic and environmental risk factors that contribute.

  • Sometimes, other mental illnesses, like depression or anxiety, can cause symptoms of eating disorders.

  • In addition, certain psychological factors, such as perfectionism and body image dissatisfaction, are risk factors for eating disorders.

  • Several social factors contribute, too, including internalized weight stigma, exposure to bullying, racial and ethnic assimilation, and limited social networks.

  • Although there is a common misconception that only women experience eating disorders, people of all genders can be affected.

  • As these disorders intimately affect the development of one's identity and self-esteem, people are particularly vulnerable to developing them during adolescence.

  • Although these are among the most challenging psychiatric disorders to treat, effective therapies and interventions exist, and many people who receive treatment make a full recovery.

  • Treatment has a higher chance of success the earlier it starts after someone develops disordered eating behaviors.

  • But unfortunately, less than half of people with an eating disorder will seek and receive treatment.

  • Because of the complex effects of eating disorders on both the body and the mind, treatment usually includes a combination of nutritional counseling and monitoring, psychotherapy, and in some cases, medications.

  • Evidence-based psychotherapies exist as treatments for most eating disorders, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and family-based therapy.

  • These are talk therapies that help people gain the skills to deal with underlying psychological problems that drive eating disorder symptoms.

  • Because not all patients will respond to these treatments, researchers are also investigating treatments outside of psychotherapy, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation.

  • Proper treatment can reduce the chances of dying from a severe eating disorder.

  • Eating disorders can provoke a powerful sense of powerlessness.

  • But education for individuals, families, and communities helps erode the stigma and improve access to treatment.

Globally, about 10% of people will experience an eating disorder during their lifetime.

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B2 TED-Ed eating eating disorder disorder treatment psychiatric

Why are eating disorders so hard to treat? - Anees Bahji

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    林宜悉 posted on 2022/06/18
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