Eating and Depressive Disorders and Their Treatment

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is an extremely serious eating disorder characterized by a distorted weight perception and a strong fear of gaining it. Medics note that “people with anorexia have abnormally low body weight and always control it and their shape” (“Anorexia nervosa,” 2018, para. 1). To achieve that, such persons put extreme efforts into exercising excessively, severely restricting the amount of eaten food, vomiting after meals, or misusing enemas, diuretics, laxatives, and diet aids (Berger). Other symptoms include extreme weight loss, thin appearance, insomnia, fainting, fatigue, and bluish discoloration of the fingers. Two types of anorexia are the restricting type and purging type, which is also known as binge eating disorder (Berger). Depending on body weight, anorexia may be classified as mild, moderate, severe, and extreme.

Anorexia used to be more common in women and girls, but recently men and boys have significantly developed eating disorders. It increases “dramatically at puberty, accompanied by distorted body image, food obsession, and depression” (Berger 1001). Moreover, researchers note that “one reason for poor nutrition is anxiety about body image — that is, a person’s idea of how his or her body looks” (Berger 999). The causes of anorexia include genetics, dieting, starvation, and also casual comments about body shape or weight, criticism, and increased peer pressure.

Bulimia Nervosa

It is common for people with bulimia to lose control overeating and secretly devour large amounts of food. Then, because of guilt, and to get rid of the extra calories, they may use excessive exercise, strict dieting, fasting, or regularly self-induce misuse laxatives or vomiting, diuretics, and weight-loss supplements (Berger 1002). Among these symptoms, the signs of bulimia are using herbal products or dietary supplements for weight loss, avoiding certain foods, and restricting calories between binges (Berger). Depending on how many episodes of uncontrolled overeating the person has per week, bulimia is classified as mild, moderate, severe, and extreme (Berger 1002). Typically, bulimia begins in early adulthood or late teens and appears more frequently among girls and women. Moreover, some factors that may provoke bulimia include biology, psychological and emotional issues, and dieting (“Bulimia nervosa,” 2018). In other words, being overweight as a child or teen, as well as having emotional and psychological problems like depression, substance use, and anxiety disorders, may greatly increase the risk of bulimia nervosa development.

Binge Eating Disorder

A newly recognized and rather severe eating disorder is binge eating disorder. It is known and relatively normal that “some adolescents periodically and compulsively overeat, quickly consuming large amounts of ice cream, cake, or snack food until their stomachs hurt” (Berger 1003). However, if a person starts doing that regularly, at least weekly for several months, in private, and feels guilt after it, bingeing becomes a disorder (Berger 1003). Depending on the number of uncontrolled overeating episodes per week, binge eating is classified as mild, moderate, severe, and extreme (Berger 1003). The sufferer feels depressed, distressed, and out of control but does not purge like people with bulimia.


In general, treatment depends on the specific kind of eating disorder, but some common parts of it are medication, psychotherapy, and nutrition education. However, if a person’s condition is too serious, and his or her life is at risk, doctors may require immediate hospitalization (Berger). For a person whose condition is not too dangerous, the members of the team may design a special diet so that he or she achieves healthy eating habits (Berger). Talk therapy or psychotherapy includes family-based therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and medications.

Major Depressive Disorder

It is common for teenagers to have low self-esteem and be shy, which disappears when they grow up. However, “some adolescents sink into a major depression, a deep sadness and hopelessness that disrupts all normal, regular activities” (Berger 1136). Teenagers with this severe condition tend to feel hopeless and worthless, and this condition lasts two or even more weeks. Currently, the rate of major depression is two times higher and affects approximately one in ten boys and one in five girls (Berger 1136). There is an extended number of gender difference explanations, including cultural and biological. One of them is that boys are more protected and encouraged by society, and their jobs, schools, universities, and social roles do not usually affect them exceptionally negatively. Berger also notes that “girls ruminate much more than boys, and rumination often leads to depression” (1137). Special hormones and other genetic features also play a significant role.

The causes of major depressive disorder include early care, genes, and emotional and physical ups and downs of puberty. All these factors can push vulnerable children into despair (Berger 1136). Moreover, this severe condition may be triggered by abuse during childhood, certain types of medications, including steroids, particular medical conditions (hypothyroidism and cancer), and drug or alcohol use. The symptoms are anhedonia, depressed mood, sleep, psychomotor, or weight change, loss of energy, fatigue, concentration difficulty, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, and recurrent thoughts of suicide or death (Berger 1136). Five or more of them over two weeks allow a person to be diagnosed with major depressive disorder (Berger 1136). The treatment is generally about psychotherapy, medications, and lifestyle adjustments. For girls, it may be easier to recover since they are more comfortable talking and sharing their emotions and concerning thoughts.

Persistent Depressive Disorder

A persistent depressive disorder is an extended, long-term, and continuous type of depression. What makes this disorder especially dangerous is that such depressed feelings can last for most days of at least two years and greatly interfere with one’s work, school, everyday life, and relationships, making teenagers more irritable (Berger). What is more, the inability to recover and constant feelings of despair and hopelessness may make some people commit suicide.

The appearance of two or more of the following signs makes it possible to diagnose a person with persistent depressive disorder. These symptoms are poor appetite or overeating, difficulty making decisions, low energy or fatigue, feelings of hopelessness, poor concentration, insomnia or hypersomnia, and low self-esteem (Berger). People with this condition may be described as ones who are incapable of having fun, frequently complain, and have a gloomy personality (“Persistent depressive disorder,” 2018). Even though this condition is not as severe as major depressive disorder, precisely its chronic nature makes coping with the symptoms rather challenging. A unique combination of medication, psychotherapy and the support of close people appears to be effective in treating this disorder (Berger). Talk therapy helps such persons feel better about themselves and see that some love, accept, and care about them.


Anorexia nervosa. (2018). Mayo Clinic. Web.

Berger, K. S. (2019). Invitation to the life span. Macmillan Learning.

Bulimia nervosa. (2018). Mayo Clinic. Web.

Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia). (2018). Mayo Clinic. Web.