Appetite Disorders

Also referred to an eating disorders, appetite disorders refers to a broad range of conditions categorised by eating, exercise and bodyweight/shape becoming an unhealthy preoccupation that can affect various aspects of a person’s life.

There is a number of different appetite/eating disorders, and each can have its own set of symptoms, causes, and treatments.

What are the symptoms?

The three most common specific appetite disorders and symptoms are:

  • Anorexia nervosa – attempting to control your weight by not eating enough food, exercising too much, or both
  • Bulimia – losing control over how much you eat and then taking drastic action to avoid putting on weight
  • Binge eating disorder (BED) – eating large amounts of food until you feel uncomfortably full
  • Other specified feeding or eating disorder(OSFED) – where the symptoms may not exactly fit the expected symptoms for any specific eating disorder
  • Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder(ARFID) – when you avoid certain foods, limit how much you eat, or do both

Other signs of an eating disorder may include:

  • Being preoccupied with your weight and body shape
  • Avoiding social situations where food will be involved
  • Eating very little food
  • Making yourself sick or taking laxatives after you eat
  • Exercising excessively
  • Having very strict habits or routines around food
  • Changes in mood such as being withdrawn, anxious or depressed

Cause and treatment

There is no defined cause for appetite disorders, and the exact cause generally differs from person to person. However, there are some factors that may make them more likely to occur, including:

  • A genetic history of eating disorders, depression, or alcohol/drug misuse
  • Being criticised for weight, body shape, or eating habits – especially at a young age
  • Feeling pressured to be slim, such as by society, your job, or people in your life
  • Having anxiety, low self-esteem, an obsessive or perfectionist personality
  • Having been sexually abused

Recovery from an eating disorder is possible, though this may take time and the process will be different for everyone. You may be referred to a an eating disorder specialist who will be responsible for your care. The suitable treatment will depend on the type of appetite disorder and each individual case; however, treatment commonly involves a combination of self-help guidance, cognitive behavioural therapies, and diet advice.

Medical Cannabis and Appetite Disorders

Alternative treatment options and therapies may be considered for some cases of appetite disorders when traditional methods have been ineffective. There is evidence to suggest that medical cannabis products may be useful in managing/improving some eating disorders due to potential that “the Endocannabinoid system has an important role in signalling rewarding events, such as eating”.

Our specialist clinicians are experienced in assessing individual cases and helping to determine whether medical cannabis could be an effective option.

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