The Rise of Eating Disorders : The rise of Dietary trends affects the mind

Eating disorders are taking over the society’s young population, making it a change that has suddenly taken over due to dietary changes and trends introduced during the last few years.

An eating disorder can be defined as obsessive thoughts about food, or inability to eat food due to the fear of gaining weight, purging, calorie monitoring and extreme exercising to control weight. It usually occurs due to distorted body image issues and partially due to peer pressure regarding ideal body image.

In the last 2 decades, the cases of eating disorders have doubled in their prevalence (3.4% to 7.8% overall) (1). 

These disorders usually include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) and orthorexia. Overall, the highest fatality rate occurs due to anorexia nervosa.

Eating disorders: Why do they develop?

Eating disorders are a mix of genetic, environmental and situational triggers altogether. At times, comorbid conditions like depression, anxiety and stress can also trigger this condition. Some people with these conditions may limit food intake to a minimum or increase the levels of intake at an extreme level. These become unhealthy ways of coping from unhealthy emotions and feelings. 

Symptoms to look for

It is very rare that someone will show the signs of an eating disorder simply by appearance. The disorders usually reflect in the mindset and perception of food and eating habits of the ones that are affected. That usually does not reflect in their weight or size. The diagnosis and symptoms in that case also becomes hard to recognize. You might notice these general changes before the disorder fully develops-

  • Mood extremities
  • Dizziness & chronic fatigue
  • Recurrent bathroom breaks after eating
  • Thinning & hair loss
  • Drastic weight loss/gain
  • Sweating & hot flashes

Other noticeable changes may include

  • Social withdrawal, inadequate peer communication
  • Willing to eat alone
  • Hiding food/ throwing it away
  • Fixated on the idea of food/calorie/ weight gain/loss
  • Following rituals in eating food

Adverse effects of Eating Disorders

As one of the top psychiatrists in Delhi, we have encountered many cases that have severe eating issues & not being dealt properly. These can have a very adverse impact on the overall well-being of the clients and require a rehabilitation regime to get back on track.

An untreated eating disorder can place one in a position of problems like-

  • Arrhythmia, heart failure
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Acid reflux, GERD
  • Organ failure & brain damage
  • Osteoporosis
  • Low BP
  • Dehydration & constipation
  • Amenorrhea (menstrual cycle ceases)
  • Stroke

How to prevent this condition?

If the disorder has a genetic disposition, it is good to be aware of it. Prompt treatment can break unhealthy patterns before it gets harder to overcome the condition. If the issue is due to comorbid conditions, you can seek treatment for the underlying issue and resolve it easily. 

Overall, becoming a positive role model for your peers, adopting healthy eating habits and being informed about the dietary and nutritional goals for your body can greatly help in building a prevention strategy.

Management & Treatment

 A series of treatment modalities can be applied to alleviate the stress from eating disorders. Some of the therapies that are applicable during eating disorder treatment are as follows-

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

In this therapy, the irrational thought patterns regarding food, weight, body shape and appearance are targeted.  Once these thoughts are identified they are targeted for overall redirection and management. New behaviors are developed and replaced with maladaptive ones.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy

 It is applied for conditions like binge eating and bulimia nervosa. 4 different areas are targeted here- Interpersonal deficits, role transitions, role disputes and grief. The problem addressed is divided into these parts and resolved accordingly.

Family based Treatment

Often referred to as the Maudsley Method, it is often used with children and young adults for treating eating disorders.

Here, family members and their involvement in the therapy process is a crucial part. The members help you with-

  • Monitoring and maintaining healthy nutritional patterns
  • Restoring and maintaining healthy weight
  • Interjecting in unhealthy habits and assisting with recovery

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

  • It focuses on managing emotions that are difficult to understand. Here the focus is on changing the behaviors related to eating disorders. The specific skills that develop with DBT are- 

1- Interpersonal skills

2- Emotional expression

3- coping with distress

4- encouraging mindfulness

5- openness towards confrontation of feelings

Acceptance & Commitment Therapy

The aim in this therapy is to provide acceptance to all feelings- the unpleasant ones as well- and commit to changing your actions that are acceptable and aligning well with your own values. It is a viable treatment, if used in combination with other therapies as well.

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

This therapy goes to the root cause of all issues, i.e. your internal desires and motives. Delving into methods of free association and unconscious motives, this therapy can also help find the right path to recovery.

Step forward to help your loved one

Treating an eating disorder requires some specific forms of therapy. The family members may not admit that they need to seek treatment, or even be concerned about their situation. Speaking openly and compassionately about these topics can help them move forward and seek treatment. Under the guidance of renowned psychiatrist in Delhi Dr. Gorav Gupta, you can experience moving into the path of recovery like a simple task.

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