Anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders are on the rise, and not just in the United States. Men and women in all cultural, economic, and social groups can develop these illnesses. The symptoms vary, depending on the type of eating disorder the person has. Treatment is often a long-term process that can include therapy, nutritional counseling, and medications. In extreme cases, hospitalization may be required.
Eating disorders are complex, long-term illnesses largely misunderstood and misdiagnosed. The most common ones -- anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder -- are on the rise, both in the United States and worldwide.
No one knows exactly what causes eating disorders. However, all socioeconomic, ethnic, and cultural groups are at risk.
Research shows that more than 90 percent of those who have eating disorders are women between the ages of 12 and 25. However, increasing numbers of older women and men are also dealing with these illnesses. In addition, hundreds of thousands of boys are affected by these conditions.
Since eating disorders are long-term illnesses, overcoming them may require long-term treatment. They frequently occur with other mental disorders, such as depression, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders. The earlier an eating disorder is diagnosed and treated, the better the chances of a full recovery.
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There are three main types of eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.
Another type is called eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). While not a formal type of eating disorder, disordered eating is far more common and widespread than most defined eating disorders, and it can possibly lead to the development of a more serious condition.