What is an Eating Disorder?

A person who has an eating disorder often spends an excessive amount of time in the mirror. They might also negatively comment on their appearance and insist they are fat. These behaviors are not always indicative of an eating disorder but can be warning signs. People can also become obsessed with how they look and compare themselves to models and celebrities. They may also wear baggy clothing to hide their body shape.

Treatment Options

The option for eating disorder treatment vary depending on the required level of care. The most intensive level of care is inpatient, but several outpatient options exist. Outpatient care is the least invasive and is often suitable for people who need to attend work or school. It is also a viable option for those who do not have insurance.

Residential treatment centers are also available. These services are the only option for some patients if outpatient therapy has not helped them. These facilities offer more stability than outpatient treatment because they create a structured environment and block out stressful influences from the outside world. Patients can also expect 24-hour care. The residential treatment options include individualized nutrition counseling and group, individual, and family therapy.

One of the best options for treating an eating disorder is to seek therapy from a psychologist. Depending on the severity of the disorder, a therapist may suggest CBT, a form of therapy, or adolescent-focused psychotherapy. With CBT, the therapist will work with the patient to develop a personalized treatment plan. The therapist will also provide strategies for coping with difficult emotions and adopting new eating habits.


People with an eating disorder often exhibit several symptoms. These may include fast weight loss, irregular eating patterns, and excessive exercise. However, the symptoms can also be subtle. People with an eating disorder may constantly weigh themselves and measure their food. They may also develop rigid eating routines. They may only use specific dishes when eating or express intense interest in other people’s food.

When a person suffers from an eating disorder, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. These disorders can cause a person distress and interfere with daily functioning. Many people with an eating disorder also suffer from anxiety disorders and depression. Further, people with an eating disorder frequently score high on perfectionism measures.

People with an eating disorder are preoccupied with dieting and weight loss. They may show intense fear of gaining weight or hide their weight by wearing loose-fitting clothes. Additionally, people with an eating disorder may become isolated from their friends or family and avoid social situations. They may also suffer from mood swings, anxiety, and irritability.


In addition to the psychological consequences, patients with eating disorders may experience physical ailments. These problems must be addressed as part of the treatment process. For instance, extreme emaciation or malnutrition may lead to impaired judgment. In these cases, the physician must be prepared to refer the patient to a hospital or call local authorities.

Other medical complications of eating disorders include weakened teeth and gums. Dentists often notice these problems in patients with eating disorders. This is because the stomach’s acidic nature can weaken the teeth’ enamel. In addition, a lack of proper nutrients can cause gums to recede. As a result, teeth may become misshaped or translucent.

Complications of an eating disorder can be life-threatening, so treatment for these disorders is necessary. The patients must be treated in an inpatient hospital or an outpatient eating disorder program under the supervision of a medical professional with expertise in treating these medical conditions. The clinicians in these facilities utilize the latest research and develop specific protocols for treating medical complications of eating disorders.


Prevention of eating disorders is an important issue for society. The severity of the problem, its chronic nature, and the enormous direct and indirect costs make the issue of prevention a high priority. Prevention programs are increasingly being developed and implemented to combat this problem, and different approaches are being tested. 

Eating disorder prevention programs have proven to be effective in reducing the pathology of eating disorders and preventing them from occurring in the first place. The effectiveness of these programs has been proven through multiple controlled trials. In addition, prevention programs have effectively reduced the risk factors for eating disorders in subpopulations.

In recent years, prevention efforts have focused on public policy changes. In the U.S., weight-related bullying must be addressed as part of anti-bullying efforts, and these policies must be evaluated to determine whether they affect the risk of disordered eating.