Beauty is Skin Deep: Eating Disorders Guide - The Dermatology Review

Beauty is Skin Deep: Eating Disorders Guide

Beauty Is Skin-Deep: Eating Disorders Guide

Eating disorders can be a serious threat to your health. Becoming overly fixated on your appearance and/or having a negative body image can lead some people to severely restrict how much they eat or binge and then purge. Society might make you think that beauty is all-important, but the truth is that how you look on the outside is only one small part of what makes you beautiful.

Body Image

Body image is how you see yourself and how attractive you feel. Society places a lot of importance on how a person looks, from a person’s body shape to their facial features, hair, or skin tone. Striving to reach an unattainable standard of beauty and not conforming to societal norms can cause you to feel uncomfortable and embarrassed about your body, which can cause distress. If the distress is serious enough, it can even lead to emotional and physical health problems. Ideally, you should accept your body as it is, knowing that no one is perfect. If your body isn’t exactly the way you want, make efforts to start healthy habits. But never shame yourself or be overly harsh with yourself about your body and its appearance.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that affects your daily eating pattern. Although anorexia can happen to anyone, adolescent girls are the most likely to develop this eating disorder. Those with anorexia develop an extreme fear of gaining weight, and they start engaging in unhealthy behaviors to become as thin as possible. People with anorexia equate thinness with their self-worth, so they feel like they can never be thin enough. Extreme dieting and exercise are common with anorexia nervosa. People also begin lying about their eating habits, withdrawing from social activities, and experiencing depression and anxiety.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa shares some characteristics with anorexia nervosa. People with bulimia nervosa also have strong fears about gaining weight, and they are very harsh with themselves about their body image. In their quest to lose weight and get as thin as possible, people with bulimia nervosa engage in binge eating, which is uncontrolled eating of a large amount of food in a short period of time. After binging, a person with bulimia will need to do something about the calories consumed, so they induce vomiting, misuse laxatives, fast, or engage in excessive exercise. It’s typical for the bulimic to hide these behaviors as much as possible as the cycle of binging and purging gets out of control.

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder involves uncontrolled and secretive overeating episodes or binges. The difference between binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa is that after a binge, someone with binge eating disorder doesn’t try to get rid of the excess calories. Over time, binge eating disorder results in weight gain, and most people become obese. The health issues connected with obesity can be serious, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Emotionally, someone with binge eating disorder often feels shame, guilt, anger, and/or depression. Low self-esteem is also common with this eating disorder.

Get Help

If you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself, you can get help to stop these behavior patterns. The first step is realizing that you have a problem. Then, reach out to a parent or someone else who can help you get better. Making an appointment with your doctor is often the best place to start. The doctor can ask questions to find out what’s happening and can then refer you to a specialist who can help you with your emotional and physical issues. If you think someone you know might be struggling with an eating disorder, talk to the person about your concerns and offer to support them as they get help.