Eating disorders include illnesses that cause severe distress mainly originated due to excessive worry related to one’s body weight and shape. Irregular eating patterns fore example excessive consumption of food or inadequate food intake is the main feature of these disorders. This results in the affliction of overall human’s well being. Some commonly present eating disorders among males and females around the world are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating Disorder. These disorders are complex in nature and combination of factors influences the development of these problems within an individual. There is generally the presence of Bio psycho Social factors contributing towards these abnormalities.
Biological factors include genetic disposition of eating disorders. Family history is the strongest predictor of having an eating disorder for an individual. However, other factors may interrelate to worsen the condition. Other examples of these factors are irregularity of hormonal functioning and nutritional deficiencies.
Secondly, psychological factors have a significant role to play as the causes of eating disorders, poor self-image, negative beliefs about one’s own body shape, high level of stress and victimization of being abused emotionally or psychologically for one’s body or critically evaluated for one’s weight, shape and muscular features. This might further leads a person to become anxious or depressive about one’s feelings about self-image.
Social or environmental factors are occurred in the form of non-supportive family and friends, abusive people around the patient suffering from eating disorders, dysfunctional family dynamics, one’s career in full of aesthetics field i.e. modeling, acting, fashion and media, mass communication sports, ballet dancing and all those areas where lean body and enhanced features affect the performance as a professional and serves as development of muscle strength and stamina i.e. wrestling, gymnastics, diving, rowing and long distance running. Any traumatic experience in a person’s childhood including sexual or physical abuse, emotional invalidation by family members and close relative i.e. parents and guardians/caretakers in early childhood.
The effect of psychosocial factors has a vital role to inflict eating disorders upon one’s mental health. Cultural and peer pressure in a workplace or among friends. Changes in life stages and major transitions mainly negative ones including divorce or breakup, rejection and associated emotions exacerbate the process.
There are certain characteristics observe among population with eating disorders to help in revelation of these disorders development or early intervention urgency. The signs and symptoms are –
- Excessive lethargy, eating habits without hunger sensations and in between meals or at odd timings for example, midnight cravings or when someone is unable to sleep
- Fluctuations in weight and measurements
- Constant worry about being an obese or overweight even without having enough food daily
- Excessive starvation leading to nutritional deficiencies and medical problems
- Obsessions about calorie intake and rigid intake of food in terms of choices or quantity
- Avoidance and loss of interest for social gatherings where food needs to be consumed
It is needed to create awareness about these disorders worldwide for timely treatment and management. This disorder category has been a part of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders by American Psychological Association, which shows the importance of attention they demand.