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Mental Health

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Andrew Weil

Eating disorders

There are actually three types of eating disorders: Anorexia, Bulimia and Compulsive Overeating. All three have the common characteristic of being able to kill you.


Anorexia is actually called anorexia nervosa. It is a serious eating disorder in which a young person, usually in their teens or 20's, has a pathological fear of gaining weight. These women don't eat well and they often over exercise. After a period of time they become malnourished in appearance and very skinny and boney looking. Since the body is not receiving what it needs nutritionally to keep the individual alive, this behavior can lead to death. Individuals with anorexia need counseling and a doctor’s care.


Bulimia also known as bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder that also occurs primarily in young females. It is characterized by an insatiable desire to eat followed by self-induced vomiting or laxative or diuretic abuse. It is often referred to as binging and purging. Individuals with bulimia need counseling.

Compulsive Overeating / Binge Eating Disorder

Those with a compulsive overeating disorder may binge on food in a frenzied way. These binge-eating sessions will result in the consumption of large amounts of food in a very short period of time. Those who binge on food will often eat to the point where they feel uncomfortable. This state is often followed by feelings of guilt or remorse. Unlike bulimics, those with an overeating disorder will not follow the binging with exercise or vomiting.

Since compulsive overeaters rarely purge their food, many are overweight or obese. Overcoming an overeating disorder is difficult, so some people may fluctuate in weight as they relapse with the condition time and again. It is important to remember that although weight problems are a symptom of an overeating disorder, not everyone who is overweight suffers from this condition.


All of these eating disorders have one thing in common: they all stem from a psychological and emotional condition which causes the individual to want to take control of something in their lives so they use food to deal with that issue. The issue may be related to the past or present. But whatever it is, it is the cause of stress, anxiety, fear, low self-esteem and perhaps other mental problems. If you or someone you care about is demonstrating signs of one of these conditions, please seek help.