Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are mental disorders characterized by abnormal eating behavior and accompanied by emotional disturbances. People with eating disorders can eat too little or too much food, and obsess over their weight or body shape.

There are several types of eating disorders, but the three most common are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder . Eating disorders can occur in all age groups, but are more common in adolescents aged 13-17 years.

Causes of Eating Disorders

So far, it is not known exactly what causes eating disorders. However, just like other mental disorders, eating disorders can occur due to a combination of several factors, namely:

  • Genetics
    In some cases, eating disorders occur in people with certain genes that trigger eating disorders.
  • Heredity
    Eating disorders are also commonly experienced by people who have parents or siblings with a history of the same disorder.
  • Biological Chemical
    changes in the brain can play a role in causing eating disorders.
  • Psychological s Eating disorders often occur in people with anxiety disorders, depression, and obsessive compulsive disorder .

In addition to these factors, a number of conditions that can also increase a person's risk of developing an eating disorder are:

  • Adolescents , especially girls
    , are prone to eating disorders because they tend to pay more attention to self-image or appearance.
  • Excessive
    diet Hunger due to a diet that is too restrictive can affect the brain so that it causes the urge to overeat.
  • Stress
    Various problems that cause stress , whether in work, family, or social relationships, can increase the risk of eating disorders.

Symptoms of Eating Disorders

Symptoms experienced by people with eating disorders depend on the type of disorder. Here are the symptoms of eating disorders by type:

Bulimia nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder in which the sufferer eats excessively, then wants to immediately throw away the food he is consuming in an unhealthy way.

How to get rid of these foods can be by vomiting back the food that was just eaten, using laxatives or diuretic drugs, or exercising excessively. This action is carried out because the patient feels guilty for eating a lot and is afraid that he will gain too much weight.

As a result of this behavior, people with bulimia can feel physical complaints in the form of:

  • Sore throat
  • Swelling of the face or glands in the jaw
  • Menstrual cycle disorders
  • Sensitive and damaged teeth
  • Bleeding gums

Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by being underweight and a fear of gaining weight. This makes sufferers limit food intake, because they feel that they are overweight, even though in reality, their bodies are already slender or even too thin.

Too little calorie intake in people with anorexia nervosa can cause complaints in the form of:

  • Dry skin
  • Hair loss
  • The body feels weak
  • Often feel cold due to low body temperature
  • Menstruation becomes irregular or even stops ( amenorrhea )
  • Constipation or constipation
  • Hypotension or low blood pressure
  • Heart rhythm disturbances
  • Brain damage

Anorexia nervosa can be fatal and cause death. In addition, sufferers can also experience depression and are so hopeless that they even attempt suicide .

Binge eating disorder

Overeating disorder or binge eating disorder is characterized by the behavior of eating quickly and in very large portions, even though you are not hungry or even very full. As a result, people with this disorder are overweight or obese .

Symptoms of binge eating disorder include:

  • Consuming large amounts of food
  • Eat very quickly
  • Keep eating when your stomach is full
  • Hiding while eating because of embarrassment when seen by people

When to see a doctor

Immediately consult a doctor if you feel you are experiencing the symptoms of an eating disorder above. It's important to remember that eating disorders are generally difficult to treat without a doctor's help.

Keep in mind, people with eating disorders often don't feel that they need help. If you're concerned about someone's inappropriate behavior while eating, try talking to them about the odd behavior and persuade them to consult a doctor.

Unusual behavior to watch out for includes:

  • Eating food in excessive amounts
  • Worried about gaining weight and very afraid of gaining weight
  • Using supplements or laxatives to lose weight
  • Tend to avoid eating out with family or friends

Eating Disorder Diagnostics

To diagnose an eating disorder, your doctor or psychiatrist will ask you about your symptoms and medical history. After that, the doctor will run the following tests to confirm the diagnosis:

  • Physical examination, including measurement of height and weight, as well as vital signs
  • Laboratory tests, such as complete blood count, urine tests, liver function, kidney function, thyroid hormones, X-rays, and electrocardiography (ECG)
  • Psychological examination, including eating and exercise habits, as well as the patient's perspective on food, weight, and body image

Treatment of Eating Disorders

Treatment of eating disorders involves a team consisting of doctors, psychiatrists, and nutritionists . The goal of treatment is to help the patient live a healthy diet.

Efforts made include:


This therapy can help sufferers to change bad eating habits into healthy eating patterns. There are two therapies that can be used, namely:

  • Cognitive behavioral
    therapy Cognitive behavioral therapy aims to identify, understand, and change behavior, especially those related to diet.
  • Family-based
    therapy This therapy is performed on children or adolescents by involving the family. The goal is to ensure the patient follows a healthy diet and maintains an ideal body weight.


Please note, there is no medication that can cure eating disorders. However, doctors can give antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs, to control the desire to overeat or prevent the urge to vomit food.

They can also treat excessive worry about certain foods or eating patterns.

Consult with a doctor or nutritionist

Nutrition consultation can help improve the patient's diet. In addition, a doctor or nutritionist can also determine the type and method of processing the right food.

In patients with eating disorders who experience malnutrition , doctors will recommend hospitalization.

Eating Disorder Complications

Eating disorders can lead to various complications. The more severe and prolonged the eating disorder, the greater the risk of complications.

Complications that can occur due to eating disorders include:

  • Heart problems, such as arrhythmia or heart failure
  • Digestive disorders, eg GERD
  • Growth disorders
  • Decreased performance in school or quality of work
  • Severe dehydration and severe constipation
  • Organ dysfunction
  • Brain damage
  • Menstruation stops
  • Infertility
  • Stroke
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Desire to commit suicide

Prevention of Eating Disorders

There is no surefire way to prevent eating disorders. However, there are several efforts that can help foster healthy eating behaviors in adolescents, namely:

  • Applying a healthy and balanced mindset towards eating, weight, and body shape
  • Eliminate the notion that body weight and shape determine success and happiness
  • Instilling an understanding that a strict diet can cause problems, both physically and mentally
  • Eat a balanced nutritious diet
  • Exercise regularly

As for parents, ways that can be done to reduce the risk of eating disorders in children include:

  • Get used to eating with family and talk about the importance of a balanced diet with reasonable portions.
  • Taking the time to tell your child that eating disorders are dangerous and not a healthy lifestyle
  • Fostering self-confidence in children by praising their appearance and not mocking their physical appearance even if they are just joking
Back to blog