Eating disorders are common disorders in which people suffer from an abnormal relationship with food. They are most common in females but increasing in males.
The two most common disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
In anorexia nervosa individuals deliberately lose weight by restriction of diet but sometimes other things such as over exercise. The individual suffers from a distorted body image and a pathological dread of fatness. They maintain their weight well below normal and there are often significant physical problems associated with this. Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality of all mental illness and it is important to get advice and treatment as soon as possible.
Bulimia in most sufferers presents with episodes of over eating followed by a purging behaviour such as self-induced vomiting or laxative abuse. People with bulimia have a preoccupation with eating and weight; they may crave food and succumb to periods of overeating in a short period of time. This is often followed by self-induced vomiting or attempts at periods of starvation. Unfortunately, this disorder can also cause significant physical problems caused by electrolyte disturbance. Full assessment and treatment is important as soon as possible.