Problems With Eating DisordersEating disorder is a form of a psychological disturbance that involves an individual’s perception of their physical appearance in relation to weight and food. As is the case with any other mental problem, its main characteristics are present in the general population but to a smaller extent. Everyone worries about his or her weight sometimes, but those who suffer from an eating disorder go to extremes to make sure they don’t gain additional pounds. Further, eating disorders can be divided into two categories, including anorexia nervosa and bulimia.
Anorexia NervosaThe main preoccupation of an individual who is suffering from anorexia is being skinny. Anorexic persons avoid food as much as possible out of fear of gaining extra weight. Such individuals always count the calories in the food, as well as the amount of carbohydrates, fat and other nutrients which are present in their meals. Anorexic people believe they have excess weight even when they are abnormally skinny. When a person starves him or herself to a point where their health is in danger they are considered to be psychologically disturbed, or suffer from anorexia.
BulimiaBulimia is similar to anorexia in a way that it also entails an obsession with gaining weight to a point where the body becomes so weak it’s very difficult to fight off infections or more serious diseases. Bulimic individuals, as opposed to the anorexics, engage in binge eating, or consuming large amounts of food at once, and then either forcing themselves to throw up or using laxatives to get rid of the digested food. At the same time, bulimic individuals will take on an enormous amount of physical exercise in order to prevent weight gain. Individuals affected by bulimia often take diet pills to further decrease the possibility of becoming overweight. Bulimics take every precaution to hide their behavior and often hide the food that they will consume. Contrary to anorexics, bulimics weigh within the normal range, but their weight is prone to sudden fluctuations.
Causes of Eating DisordersMany clinicians and researchers have been trying to pinpoint the exact causes of eating disorders but so far with no luck. Individuals who develop eating disorders are often prone to anxiety and depression. Other than suffering from mood disorders, they are sometimes affected by character disorders as well, including obsessive compulsive or borderline personality disorder. Environmental factors also play an important role in the development of eating disorders. Society puts an enormous amount of pressure to young girls to be thin. Some individuals are willing to go to extremes to meet the perceived societal norms, feel worthy and self-confident.
Consequences of Eating DisordersIn order to stay healthy, many individuals watch their diets, are careful about the intake of nutrients, and try to engage in as much physical activity as possible. Those who do harmful things to their bodies to be thin often suffer from an array of health problems. When it comes to anorexia, various types of digestive and cardiovascular difficulties follow the affected individuals. As most patients are women, irregular or missed periods are a common occurrence. Dry flaky skin as well as fine hair covering the body are often observed. In the case of bulimia, one of the most common health issues involves dehydration due to the constant vomiting and bowel elimination. Also, dental problems and rotting of the teeth can be detected, and are most often caused by the large amounts of stomach acid in the mouth from throwing up. Similarly to anorexic patient, stomach and heart problems, as well as kidney diseases affect those suffering from bulimia.
EpidemiologyEating disorders are widely spread psychological disturbances, with over 8 million affected persons in the United States alone. Eating disorders are far more prevalent in women than in men, with 90 percent of patients being female. Individuals from various ethnic or racial groups can develop an eating disorder and they may be of different socioeconomic backgrounds. Lastly, eating disorders mostly affect teenage girls and may start as early as 8 or 9 years old.
Treatment for Eating DisordersWhen it comes to treating many psychological problems, it is usually the combination of psychotherapy and medications that yields the best results. The most popular type of psychotherapy that is highly effective in reducing the symptoms of many disturbances, including eating disorders, is the cognitive behavioral therapy. In case of anorexia, a team of specialists assists the individual in getting their weight back to normal. There are instances in which severely malnourished persons are placed under hospital care. A nutritionist or a dietitian will probably be the part of the specialist team to educate the individual in choosing healthy food eating at regular intervals. When battling any kind of mental problem it is crucial that the individual is surrounded by close family members and friends to are there to provide support and offer understanding and empathy.