Eating disorders are mental disorders that can have serious physical complications. These disorders may make normal functioning difficult and can become chronic, crippling illnesses and in extreme cases require hospitalization. There are two main types of eating disorders: Anorexia and Bulimia. These are complex disorders focusing on issues of eating, body weight, and body shape. People who intentionally starve themselves suffer from an eating disorder called anorexia nervosa. The disorder, which usually begins in young people around the time of puberty, involves extreme weight loss, at least 15 percent below the individual's normal body weight. Many people with the disorder look withered, but are convinced they are overweight. Even after losing the unwanted weight they continue to starve themselves believing they are still obese. Sometimes they must be hospitalized to prevent starvation.
People with bulimia nervosa consume large amounts of food and then rid their bodies of the excess calories by vomiting, abusing laxatives or diuretics, taking enemas, or exercising obsessively. Some use a combination of all these forms of purging. Because many individuals with bulimia "binge and purge" in secret and maintain normal or above normal body weight, they can often successfully hide their problem from others for years. There are three main areas that, in combination, likely cause most people's eating disorders. These areas include personality factors, genetics and the environment, and biochemistry. Most people with eating disorders share certain personality traits: low self-esteem, feelings of helplessness, and a fear of becoming fat. In anorexia and bulimia, eating behaviors seem to develop as a way of handling stress and anxieties.
People with anorexia tend to be "too good to be true." They rarely disobey, keep their feelings to themselves, and tend to be perfectionists, good students, and excellent athletes. Some researchers believe that people...