My Abnormal Psychology class has taught me a lot about many different types of mental illnesses. One type of mental illness that stood out to me was eating disorders. An eating disorder is a type of mental illness where a person practices abnormal eating habits. These eating disorders have three main components which include disruptions in one's eating manners, ideas that are heavily influenced by weight and shape and having an intense fear of gaining weight. There are many types of eating disorders, but the most common are bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Unfortunately, there are many stigmas about each of these psychological disorders. That being said, keep reading for information about the clinical criteria on what each of these eating disorders entail and the common stigmas surrounding these illnesses.
Bulimia Nervosa (BN)
Clinical Criteria: an episode of overeating within a short period of time. One feels that they cannot control how much they are eating, therefore over-consuming food.
Stigmas: The stigma behind bulimia nervosa is that most people believe it is less common than anorexia nervosa. Although most people see anorexia portrayed in the media such as in articles, magazines, television, movies, etc. it is actually more common for someone to suffer from bulimia than it is to struggle from anorexia.
Anorexia Nervosa (AN)
Clinical Criteria: When one is unable to maintain minimal weight and/or gain weight that is normal. Also includes a very strong fear that one will gain a lot of weight and become obese. Includes two types: "restricting" and "binge-eating/purging."
Stigmas: It is commonly believed that anorexia only occurs in people who are thin and/or underweight. While it is still true that people who suffer from anorexia are typically thin and/or underweight individuals, it does not mean that people who are overweight and/or obese do not suffer from this eating disorder. Some people can be overweight/obese and have anorexia but not show the common physical symptom of weight loss.
Binge Eating Disorder (BED)
Clinical Criteria: The habit of repeatedly binge eating in a short period of time. This binge eating phase is correlated with 3 or more of the following factors: eating more than usual, eating to the point where ones stomach feels unbearable, overeating while not hungry, eating alone due to embarrassment of eating large amounts and a feeling of guilt after over-consumption of food.
Stigmas: A common stigma behind binge eating disorder is that people believe that someone suffering from this disorder has a concern about their body weight and therefore practices purging. However, regurgitation does not occur in every person suffering from a binge eating disorder. The basis of this eating disorder does not necessarily involve around a concern for their body weight and/or shape leading to regurgitation to lose weight.
I hope that this article made you more knowledgeable about bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa and binge eating disorder, and the common stigmas they possess. I aspire for people to become well informed about eating disorders so that in the future these common stigmas no longer exist!