Eating Disorders, Research Paper Example
Words: 3500Research Paper
Anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating are the most commonplace eating disorders. Anorexia is one of the most common eating disorders within the United States and many other countries abroad. This eating disorder has the ability to destroy the lives of men, women, teenagers, and children alike. Anorexia is an eating disorder that is becoming more and more prevalent in our society and something should be done in order to eliminate this type of damage to the body. Unfortunately, many individuals resort to anorexia because of the media, because they do not feel comfortable in their own bodies, or because they feel they should be better looking or skinnier. Anorexia is a fatal disease and it is important to discuss it in further detail. Anorexia nervosa, according to MMWR, is a psychological disorder that is characterized by severe disturbances in eating behavior and “is characterized by refusal to maintain minimally normal body weight” (1). According to an article entitled “Anorexia Nervosa – Topic Overview,” anorexia is a type of eating disorder that causes a person to have an intense fear of gaining weight. “They severely limit the amount of food they eat and can become dangerously thin” (“Anorexia Nervosa – Topic Overview” 1). This disease not only affects the body but it also affects the mind of a person suffering from it. A person who is anorexic may begin this disease with a simple diet. However, in the long run, it can get out of control. The person may think about food, dieting and weight all the time. “Eating disorders often start in adolescence, and greater than 90% of cases occur among females. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa affect as many as 3% of adolescent and young adult females, and the incidence of anorexia nervosa appears to have increased in recent decades” (MMWR, 1). “Untreated anorexia can lead to starvation and serious health problems, such as bone thinning (osteoporosis), kidney damage, and heart problems” (“Anorexia Nervosa – Topic Overview” 1). Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder that makes the person binge eat and then find a way to get rid of the food. According to WebMD and the article entitled “Bulimia Nervosa – Topic Overview,” people may get rid of the food by vomiting, exercising too much, or using laxatives. The final eating disorder is binge eating. Binge eating is an eating disorder that makes a person eat numerous amounts of food at one time or at many several times throughout the day. This is usually a sign of comfort for them as they result to food to help them through their problems. Unfortunately, these specific health problems can lead to the worst outcome which is death. It is important to let society know of the symptoms, the causes and the treatments for these diseases so that we, as a community can work together to eliminate them.
There are many symptoms to anorexia nervosa. These symptoms can range from a person’s feelings and actions to physical signs to food rituals to suicidal feelings. In reference to the person’s feelings or actions, an article entitled “Anorexia Nervosa – Symptoms” by WebMD, states that people can develop common feelings or actions that are linked to anorexia. These include “having an intense fear of gaining weight, restricting food or types of food, such as food that contains any kind of fat or sugar, weighing less than 85% of your expected body weight, seeing your body as overweight, in spite of being underweight, exercising too much, and being secretive around food and not recognizing or wanting to talk about having a problem with eating or weight loss” (1). Also, according to this source, individuals who are suffering with anorexia nervosa form certain food rituals associated with eating such as “developing special ways to eat food, hoarding food, collecting recipes, and preparing elaborate meals for other people but not eating the meals themselves” (“Anorexia Nervosa – Symptoms” 1). Individuals with anorexia also spend a lot time cutting and rearranging food on their plates so that it actually looks as if they have eaten. They may even hide food or get rid of it during meals. Finally, in reference to their social behavior, they also tend to be suicidal sometimes. This can be detected by numerous signs such as giving away belongings, making suicide threats, being angry, or withdrawing from others and specific activities. Just as there are social and behavioral symptoms of anorexia, there are also physical symptoms. These symptoms include “a low body weight, constipation and slow emptying of the stomach, thinning hair, dry skin, and brittle nails, shrunken breasts, stopping or never getting a monthly menstrual period, feeling cold, with a lower-than-normal body temperature, and low blood pressure” (“Anorexia Nervosa – Symptoms” 1). These physical implications of anorexia are just as bad as the social and behavioral if not worse. Much of the physical symptoms show deterioration and can be very harmful to the person’s body, nervous system, and digestive system. According to an article entitled “Anorexia Nervosa – What Happens” by WebMD, “starvation and malnourishment from anorexia can cause complications, such as osteoporosis or an irregular heartbeat” (1). The physical, social, and behavioral aspects of anorexia are important to point out as it helps many individuals continue to understand what to look for in order to help others suffering from this disease. There are also many symptoms for bulimia nervosa as well. According to “Bulimia Nervosa – Topic Overview” by WebMD, “
people with bulimia binge on a regular basis. They eat large amounts of food in a short period of time, often over a couple of hours or less. During a binge, they feel out of control and feel unable to stop eating. They purge to get rid of the food and avoid weight gain. They may make themselves vomit, exercise very hard or for a long time, or misuse laxatives, enemas, water pills, and other medications. (1).
Finally, binge eating also has its symptoms. According to an article entitled “Binge Eating Disorder – Symptoms,” if a person has binge eating disorder, they eat an extremely large amount of food within a 2-hour period (a binge) at least 2 times a week on average for at least 6 months, feel unable to control how much you eat during a binge, and feel very unhappy about binging.” (1). However, those individuals who have one or all of these symptoms also have at least 3 or more of the following symptoms: eat more quickly than normal during a binge, eat until they are painfully full, binge when they are not hungry, to reduce stress or to comfort themselves, eat alone because they are embarrassed about how much food they eat, and feel upset, guilty, or depressed after a binge (“Binge Eating Disorder – Symptoms 1). There are many risk factors and many causes that make a person feel as if anorexia is the best bet for them.
The causes and risk factors for a person dealing with anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating are plentiful. According to an article by WebMD entitled “Anorexia Nervosa – What Increases Your Risk,” “the risk for anorexia nervosa increases if you have a family history of an eating disorder, such as anorexia or bulimia nervosa, have certain personality traits and emotional conditions, such as perfectionism, perseverance, anxiety, or low self-esteem, and feel family, cultural, or social pressures related to goals such as thinness, high achievement, or perfection” (1). The risk factors for such a disease are no kind thing. All of these show us that too many individuals are trying to achieve greatness and perfection when all they are really doing to themselves is hurting themselves and destroying their bodies. According to an article by MedlinePlus entitled “Anorexia Nervosa,” there are many causes for this eating disorder. These causes can relate to genes and hormones, social attitudes, and the way that a person views himself or herself. It is stated that family conflicts are no longer part of the equation as once thought (1). WebMD states that the causes for anorexia nervosa are not well understood, but that “it is thought to develop from a mix of physical, emotional, and social triggers (“Anorexia Nervosa – Cause,” 1). Some of the known causes or risk factors for a person with anorexia include “being more worried about, or paying more attention to weight and shape, having an anxiety disorder as a child, having a negative self-image, having eating problems during infancy or early childhood, having certain social or cultural ideas about health and beauty, and trying to be perfect or overly focused on rules” (“Anorexia Nervosa” 1). Bulimia also has its own causes and risk factors. According to “Bulimia Nervosa – Topic Overview,” by WebMD, bulimia may be cause by a mix of family history, social factors, and personality traits.” (1). It is said that a person may have bulimia if “other people in your family are obese or have an eating disorder, you have a job or do a sport that stresses body size, such as ballet, modeling, or gymnastics, you are the type of person who tries to be perfect all the time, never feels good enough, or worries a lot, or you are dealing with stressful life events, such as divorce, moving to a new town or school, or losing a loved one” (Bulimia Nervosa – Topic Overview 1). Just as the other two, binge eating has its own set of causes and risk factors. According to an article entitled “Binge Eating Disorder Causes and Prevention” by WebMD, “binge eating disorder seems to result from a combination of psychological, biological, and environmental factors” (1). Binge eating has also been said to be linked to many mental health disorders. Nearly half of all people who are binge eaters are also depressed. “Many people report that anger, sadness, boredom, anxiety, or other negative emotions can trigger an episode of binge eating” (“Binge Eating Disorder Causes and Prevention” 1). Finally, many doctors are also looking into the fact that many eating disorders including binge eating are inherited. These eating disorders can be detrimental to all individuals who suffer from the diseases; however, many need to realize that there is hope for them. They have to realize that there are treatments to reverse the anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating as well as help them fight the diseases.
There are many treatments for individuals who are suffering from the effects of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. According to an article by WebMD entitled “Anorexia Nervosa – Treatment Overview,” many individuals who suffer from this disease are able to become healthy again by seeing a team of professionals such as a mental health professional, a medical health professional, and a registered dietician (1). If the medical condition is not yet life-threatening, the treatment may include medical treatment to treat malnutrition and starvation such as dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, or heart problems. In nutritional rehabilitation, “the medical team helps you work toward a healthier weight carefully and gradually, learn when your body is hungry and full, and start healthy eating patterns.” (“Anorexia Nervosa – Treatment Overview” 1). Family therapy, especially for teens who are dealing with this disease, is also a great treatment plan for individuals dealing with anorexia. WebMD states that “family therapy helps parents support their child, both emotionally and physically. It also supports parents in creating a normal eating pattern for their child. Any brothers or sisters also need support during treatment. Family, group, and individual counseling are all effective and are often combined” (“Anorexia Nervosa – Treatment Overview” 1). Bulimia has its own treatments. The best treatments for bulimia nervosa are psychological counseling such as cognitive behavioral therapy and nutritional counseling as well as medication such as antidepressants. However, the initial treatment of bulimia really depends on how long the person has been dealing with the disease. Just as anorexia, some individuals may be in worse health and need different treatment (“Bulimia Nervosa – Treatment Overview” 1). On-going treatment involves psychological counseling that may include interpersonal therapy as well. Finally, binge eating disorders can be treated as well if the person desires the help. According to the article “Treatment for Binge Eating Disorder” by WebMD, binge eating can be treated with psychotherapy, medications, nutrition counseling, and group and individuals therapy. Doctors use these forms of therapy to help the patient regain confidence in themselves, to deal with depression or anxiety, and to help them learn the proper nutritional guidelines again (1). Some individuals with eating disorders deal with the disease for a few months or a few years. Unfortunately, for others, it is a lifelong process. The treatment aspect of eating disorders is also a lifelong process for many as societal and cultural roles play a big part in the causes for becoming anorexic, bulimic, or binge eating in the first place. These societal and cultural roles are not going to go away in a person’s life just because they are trying to overcome a disease that is killing them. They have to be strong enough to continue the process throughout their lives in order to stay healthy and start eating on a routine pattern. Though anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating can be treated with counseling and medical help, it is still the responsibility of the individual to continue to have a better self-image and continue on the road to success and health without feeling guilty for doing so.
Personal stories are a huge part of the community and society as a whole in understanding the implications of anorexia or any other disease. It is important for others to look at it through the eyes of a person who has dealt with the eating disorder. One of those people is Alison. Alison states that she does not know why she became anorexic. All she knows is that her obsession with weight and diet began in the 10th grade. Alison had just moved to a new place and started at a new school which could have been triggers for her disease. She states that she was always involved in numerous activities (more than she could handle, actually) and that “for some combination of reasons, including self-doubt, feelings of isolation, worthlessness and of being invisible, and increasing social pressures with boys, everything came to a head that year and I turned to restrictive eating and manic exercise to deal with and control it” (“Recovering Anorexic: Alison’s Story,” 1). Although Alison was receiving help, she states that she did not begin to gain any weight until the last months of her senior year of high school. At that time, she began binge eating in order to gain the weight back and still felt horrible about the way she was dealing with her disease. Unfortunately, Alison only seemed to get worse once she entered college and has not yet fully combatted the disease, but she is doing her absolute best to continue treatment and get out of the woods completely. Another story is that of Theresa Kressin. Theresa began her anorexic habits when she realized that all of her friends where skinnier than she was. She states that she wanted to be just like them so she started to only eat small things for lunch such as an orange and did not eat any dinner. Theresa had many things happening in her life before the anorexia began. Her grandfather died, her great-grandmother died, her parents divorced, and she had to change schools. All of this contributed to how she felt about herself and she began her anorexic habits. Luckily, Theresa’s mother, Jackie Kressin noticed that something was wrong and helped her get into an eating disorder program. While in this program, Theresa was strictly monitored during each meal. The goal was for her to gain weight and become healthier. Unlike many others, Theresa finally adjusted to the inpatient program and became healthier. She was released from the inpatient program to continue her recovery at home where her mother would be her sole caregiver. After many months of therapy and recovery, Theresa got back to her normal self, participating in sports and being a leader within her school. This story shows us that individuals can change their mindset and reach for a healthier, happier life.
In conclusion, eating disorders are very real and unfortunate diseases. The symptoms, causes, and treatments have been studied for many years and can be clearly identified if people are actually looking for way to help someone that is suffering from an eating disorder. These are not a decision on the part of the person it is affecting. Many researchers have found that eating disorders are based on many factors such as genes, behavior, social inclination, societal norms, and many mental discrepancies in a person’s life. The symptoms of eating disorders include a person’s feelings and actions, physical signs, food rituals, and suicidal feelings. The causes are much more intense and include certain personality traits and emotional conditions, causes can relate to genes and hormones, social attitudes, and the way that a person views himself or herself. Society is also a huge factor as many individuals feel they have to look or be like someone else in order to feel loved or appreciated. Treatment is out there for individuals who are willing to admit they have a problem and get help. Treatment can include medication, therapy, strict eating plans, and family support. That is what is most important. Treatment has to be given in order for these individuals to live healthy, happy lives. If we, as a society or community, do not provide the treatment and help that these individuals need, we are only ruining our society, our people, and our reputation as a country. We must be able to provide help to the individuals who need it whether they are dealing with mental health issues or medical issues or eating disorders. If we do not have programs and doctors or a community that is willing to help, these individuals go unnoticed and will continue to binge eat or not eat and ruin their bodies as well as their self-esteem. Something must continuously be done in order raise awareness of the issue, treat the issue when needed, and make sure that these individuals are healthy as they move toward greater things in life. As stated before, eating disorders are not conscious decisions. There are many factors that put an individual at risk for such horrible diseases. We, as a society, must be willing to notice these things in our people and help them whenever we can. It is important for us to take the time to look at others and make sure they are healthy and happy. Sometimes it is the little things that matter most. When individuals feel as if they go unnoticed or are isolated from the rest of mainstream society, they have the tendency to find ways to fit in. It is our responsibility to help them fit in and not go unnoticed. We must be able to help them or there will be no recovery process, there will be no more “many years to come” and these individuals will die a slow and agonizing death because people weren’t able to reach out to them when they needed it the most. We can only change the attitudes and ideas of others if we try and that is what needs to happen in order to get this disease under control.
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