Anorexia and Bulimia, the most common eating disorders, are usually inter-linked and these conditions are the result of external influences and psychological triggers. The disorders are potentially life threatening and require treatment that is a combination of professional counselling, medication and support from family, friends and peers.
"Bulimia is an excessive and compulsive eating disorder, while anorexia refers to the lack of appetite caused by deliberate and compulsive starvation," said Dr Anil Patil, Vedicure Healthcare and Wellness Pvt Ltd.
Deliberate vomiting by bulimics often leads to Cachexia (a wasting syndrome), and excessive fat, protein and muscle loss. "When bulimics feel hungry, they starve themselves. Later, they binge eat, leading to massive pangs of guilt, which make them vomit whatever they've consumed," explains Dr Patil.
Extreme anorexics can be difficult to manage and can sometimes warrant hospital care for forced-intake of nutrition (intravenous glucose). "They don't realise it but they're committing suicide by starving. Sometimes, anxiolytic drugs help them but a large role has to be played by the support they get from family and friends," said Dr Patil.
Dr Patil feels that counselors should also try to establish a patient's family history and inquire if they have suffered a life-altering incident in the recent past that could have triggered the disorder. Since such conditions are the result of external influences and psychological triggers, specific advice can accelerate the treatment.