There are three main eating disorders:
• anorexia nervosa,
• bulimia and
• compulsive overeating.
All have quite distinct and separate characteristics. However, they all involve problems with food: limiting the types of food eaten, having to get rid of food soon after eating, or losing control and eating too much. Eating disorders are not just about eating. They are also about being unhappy with body shape, size or weight and the impact this has on self esteem, relationships and the ability to cope with life in general. It is a myth that a person must look very thin or emaciated before an eating disorder can be considered. While most people with an eating disorder are female; increasing numbers of males are being diagnosed.
Various forms of treatment are available such as psychotherapy, counselling and self help groups. In more extreme cases hospitalisation and medication may be required. The first step is for the person to realise they have a serious problem and they need encouragement to take responsibility for getting help. They need to learn to accept their strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures as part of a balanced existence.
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