The exact causes of eating disorder have yet been fully identified. However, research has shown that these causes are influenced by other medical situations and conditions. For example, girls suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at higher risk of suffering from these disorders more than girls without ADHD. Other factors that influence the development of these disorders are peer pressure, role models, amongst others (Maj, 2003). An estimation of about five and ten million people has disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa in the United States alone. Although it was thought that, they mostly affected the females, it is now confirmed that they are affecting the males as much (approximately 1 million males). However, the western countries are most affected by these disorders. The number is increasing in both women men. Although there are other factors influencing the increase of these disorders, westernization is feared to increase the risk.
The types of eating disorders that are found in most patients are anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. The others include compulsive overeating, purging disorder, rumination, diabulimia, orthorexia, pica, night eating syndrome, food maintenance, amongst others (National institute of Mental Health, 2011). All these diseases are caused by ones own dissatisfaction. In some cases, the disorder is so severe that it causes death. A person’s culture and psychological state of mind are key attributes to such disorders. Although we may find that these disorders mostly affect the people having them, they affect everybody whether directly or indirectly. An Eating disorder causes a society’s disorder.
Contents of the disorders
Anorexia nervosa, which is simply known as anorexia, is a psychological disease; it is a condition that is more than the concern for obesity. The victim gets an uncontrolled urge for loosing weight hence uncontrolled dieting. For this reason, the losing weight becomes a sign of control and mastery. The urge to become thinner is actually secondary in relation to fears of one’s body (Watson, 2007). The person continues with this habit and cycle of eating restrictively. It is later accompanied by other behaviors. These behaviors include over exercising, starvation, overusing diet pills to induce appetite loss, laxatives, diuretics, enemas amongst others. All these are done in order to induce weight loss.
Often, it reaches a point close to starvation as one feels a sense of control over their body. This habit/cycle comes to being an obsession and, for this reason, is equalized to an addiction. Unfortunately, most of these people do not know that they are suffering from anorexia and do not believe it even when told. Treatment becomes a challenge in such cases (Maj, 2003).
Bulimia nervosa, which mostly referred to as bulimia, is also a psychological disorder. This disorder consists of episodes of binge eating. Unsuitable methods of weight control then follow. These methods include enemas, fasting, vomiting, over use of laxatives and diuretics, excessive exercising, amongst others (Gesto, 2004). Extreme weight and shape concerns are other characteristics that are portrayed in people suffering from this disorder.
A binge is a situation/condition where a person eats larger portions of food than what most people would eat in a given time or in similar circumstances. The individuals involved in this type of disorder are mostly not hungry when they eat. They do this in response to stress, depression, stress self esteem amongst other things. The individual suffering from this disorder normally experiences a loss of control although they are normally aware of it. They then calm down for a time then self- loathing follows. This cycle takes place until there is an obsession (Hall & Cohn, 2011).
Binge eating is almost similar to bulimia but differs with the characteristics one portrays after they have eaten. Unlike bulimia where a person takes the excessive measures to loose weight, one suffering from binge eating is just filled with a sense of guilt and shame (Chambers, 2009). Those who binge eat also use the food to cope with stress, depression, self-esteem, amongst other negative emotions. They may involve themselves in actions such as promising themselves not to over eat again, or control their eating, but unfortunately, they find themselves in the same condition repeatedly.
Consequences and treatment
Consequences that follow ones suffering from anorexia can be as severe as death. These consequences not only affect the patient but the family the society in general and especially the close family members. One certainty about anorexia is that victims restrain themselves from any calorie take at all costs (Watson, 2007). When the body has insufficient amounts of calories, it gets into a starvation mode thus slowing down to conserve the little energy available. Practically, the body starts to consume itself and if this continues, many medical complications start developing.
The other consequences include depression, extreme mood swings, memory loss or poor memory, deterred thinking, bloating constipation, damage of the gums, dental caries, fainting, dizziness, headaches, brittle nails and dry skin with a yellow-like color, some fine hair growth on the body and face, amongst others (NIH, 2011). Most of these people live a completely different life and are afraid of engaging in any kind of eating so that they do not eat foodstuffs that will make then “fat”.
As mentioned earlier, anorexia is a psychological disorder, which also affects the body. For these reasons, an approach that involves team is best when treating it. The team involved mostly consists of counselors, psychologists, medical doctors and dieticians. The support and participation of family members also plays a big role towards the recovery process of the patient. A reliable and trusted team eases the treatment process as the family members and the patient fully cooperate. Due to the inclusion of all these people, it is normally done using an outpatient method. However, those that are suffering from malnutrition or other damage of organs will be admitted at the initial stages (Watson, 2007).
The treatment goals for people who have suffered from anorexia for longer periods will have to be achieved at a slower pace. This is done in prevention of making the anorexic person from relapsing as they feel that the treatment is overwhelming. Any treatment approach should address issues of self-perfection, perfectionism, control, amongst others. Support groups or Group counseling are highly recommended and used in the treatment of this disorder. This is because the individual is able to identify with other people with a similar problem hence they are able to open up more. No specific medications that have been made to reduce the urge to starve. However, medication such as quetiapine (Seroquel), risperidone (Risperdal) and olanzapine (Zyprexa, Zydis) are used to stabilize the mood of a patient (Maj, 2003). They are also used to treat schizophrenia, which is useful in the treatment of anorexia. Unfortunately, there are people who never completely recover, as the body damage done was great.
Suicide is the most serious effect of bulimia. This is because of the stress and depression that are associated with the disorder. Malnutrition, electrolyte and metabolic imbalances, dehydration, just to mention but a few are other consequences that come with bulimia (Gesto, 2004). The disorder also causes a condition known as amenorrhea. This is the absence of at three monthly periods consecutively. The digestive system is mostly affected which leads to other problems such as loss of nails, hair, skin tone, teeth, and others. The regulation of body heat is highly affected as there no or low contents of Potassium, which is responsible for this function.
Therapy is highly used in the treatment of bulimia. This is used to tackle the feeling guilt and shame for the bingeing and purging. Most therapists use the cognitive-behavioral therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy aims at destroying the negative, unrealistic thoughts, unhealthy eating habits that encourage the disorder to grow. In this therapy, the patient is helped in stopping the binge and purge cycle. The patient is taught ways of coping with stress without necessarily using food. The patient is also taught how to replace the unhealthy thoughts and patterns with new ones. The therapist then helps the patient to solve the emotional issues that mostly caused the disorder to begin with (Hall & Cohn, 2004).
Those suffering from binge eating have multiple physical, social and emotional problems. These people administer more health problems, insomnia, stress, suicidal thoughts amongst other problems. Anxiety, depression, and drug abuse are frequent side effects noted. Above all the most noted effect of this disorder is weight gain. People who have this disorder are mostly obese and they may suffer from the problems associated with obesity. Other effects of binge eating are type two diabetes, gallbladder disease, high blood pressure, heart diseases, high cholesterol, joint and muscle problems, cancer, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and gastrointestinal complications (Chambers, 2009).
Although medication may be used in cases where the body has been impaired or needs some medical attention, therapy is mostly used to treat this disorder. Cognitive behavioral therapy is also used to in this disorder (NIH, 2011). It focuses on the negative behaviors and thoughts and helps the patient cope with these emotions and thoughts in a better way. Interpersonal psychotherapy tackles problems associated relationships, which are a cause of why the disorder started at first. Dialectical behavior therapy is a combination of meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy. All these enable the patient to get a fresh start and keep at it.
Effects on Families
It goes without saying that families are greatly affected by those who suffer from these disorders. In some cases, the patients might influence these family members in the wrong direction or simply affect them psychology. Most patients are in denial before they agree to get help. Some families use forceful methods of getting the patient to go for help, as the individuals do not agree that they have problems in the first place (Maj, 2003).
Some bad cases, a person who looks up to the patient decides to follow his/her way. This usually becomes a disaster. You have two or more people of the same family suffering from the same type of disorder or two different types depending on which road the other decided to take. Families involve themselves in the observation of a patient’s habits. This forces them to frequently check the patient. The family is affected worse if the patient dies from the complications that come with these disorders (Watson, 2007).
The societies can help to curb the great occurrence of these behaviors by arranging some self-awareness activities. These includes sporting activities, concerts, workshops and so on where people have discussions on how they boost their self-esteem, cope with stress and have healthy eating habits. Schools can also arrange programs or that educate the students/pupils on how to have a high self-esteem, how to avoid peer pressure, the uniqueness in every person, ways of coping with stress and good eating habits. People should not be criticized for their body size or shape (Maj, 2003).
Everyone has a place in the prevention of these disorders. When an anorexic child goes to school, he or she may affect the other children by either positively or negatively. If negatively, these others affect their families and the cycle continues. Adults, work output is affected and their families too. There are children who are greatly affected if it is their parents suffering from these disorders.
Chambers, N. (2009). Binge eating: psychological factors, symptoms and treatment. New York, NY: Nova Science Publishers.
Gesto, K. (2004). Bulimia: Hunger for Freedom. New York, NY: Xulon Press.
Hall, L. & Cohn, L. (2011). Bulimia: A Guide to Recovery. Carlsbad, CA: Library of Congress.
Maj, M. (2003). Eating disorders. West Sussex, John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
National institute of mental Health, NIH (2011). Eating Disorders. MedlinePlus. Retrieved from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/eatingdisorders.html
Watson, S. (2007). Anorexia. New York, NY: The Rosen publishing Group, Inc.