Overeating or undereating may be a sign of an eating disorder

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Eating disorders are a group of psychological conditions that can lead to unhealthy eating behaviours. These behaviours can include food restriction or overeating with a sense of losing control. Many of these conditions are associated with an obsession with food, body weight, or body shape. Eating disorders are actually quite common. Unfortunately, they are often overlooked, and, if left untreated, can be life-threatening.

There are four main groups of eating disorders:

  1. Anorexia nervosa: this disorder is characterised by an intense fear of weight gain, which leads to reduced food intake and significant weight loss.
  2. Bulimia nervosa: individuals with bulimia nervosa also have a significant concern about body shape. They experience a lack of control, which leads to cycles of bingeing (eating large amounts of food uncontrollably) and purging (compensatory behaviours such as vomiting or excessive exercise).
  3. Binge eating disorder: this disorder involves periods of bingeing without compensatory behaviours.
  4. Other eating disorders: these are eating disorders that do not fall into the categories of the commonly seen eating disorders mentioned above.

It is important to note that the diagnosis of eating disorders is not solely based on the amount of food consumed or body weight, but it requires an in-depth assessment of thinking patterns and emotions related to eating and body shape.

If you suspect that you are experiencing abnormal eating behaviours, it is crucial to seek professional help. There is clear evidence that early treatment is associated with better outcomes. Recovery is probably not an easy journey, but we are here to support you. Remember, you don’t have to face this alone.

Nacharin Phiphopthatsanee, MD
MRCPsych

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