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Anyone can develop an eating disorder, although young women are most likely to be affected, particularly between the ages of 15-25 yrs old. It is not unusual, however, for men to develop an eating disorder or for an eating disorder to appear in middle age.
On the face of it, eating disorders are about the misuse of food, however there are usually much more complex and emotional underlying causes. Traumatic events can sometimes trigger an eating disorder such as being bullied or abused, an upheaval in the family, long term illness or concerns over sexuality. An eating disorder can manifest itself in different forms but the most common types are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
People with anorexia nervosa have extreme weight loss as a result of very strict dieting. Some people may also make themselves sick, abuse laxatives or do excessive exercise to try and lose weight. Anorexia sufferers believe they are fat and are terrified of becoming what is in fact a normal weight or shape.
People with bulimia nervosa binge eat and follow this with making themselves sick or misusing laxatives to get the food out of their bodies. Bulimia sufferers are very afraid of becoming fat.
Other types of eating disorders include binge eating disorder, compulsive overeating and eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). Follow the links to find out more about eating disorders.