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Eating Disorders

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Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are characterized by a severe disturbance in eating behavior. The two most common forms of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. At the heart of both of these disorders is an intense and pathological fear of becoming overweight and fat, and a pursuit of thinness that is relentless and sometimes deadly. There is also another category of eating disorders which is called EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified). This includes another common eating disorder called binge eating disorder, which is the most widely and rapidly spreading eating disorder. Eating disorders are becoming a problem worldwide, and the attitudes that lead to eating disorders are more common in whites and Asians then African Americans. Sociocultural influences such as fashion magazines and TV stars idealize extreme thinness and impact young girls to be thin. There are ten females for every male with an eating disorder. The goal of recovery for eating disorders is to develop a healthy relationship with food, and develop constructive ways to cope with life and its challenges. Usually, treatment addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of the eating disorder.

Anorexia nervosa is one of the most common psychiatric diagnoses in young women. Anorexia is characterized by a fear of gaining weight and a refusal to maintain a normal weight. There are two types of anorexia nervosa, the restricting type and the binge-eating/purging type. In the restricting type every effort is made to limit how much food is eaten, and caloric intake is tightly controlled. The binge-eating/purging type involves out-of-control eating of amounts of food that are followed by purging. This is similar to bulimia nervosa but people with the binge-eating/purging type of anorexia are underweight and people with bulimia nervosa are typically of normal weight. The four primary symptoms of anorexia are: resistance to maintaining body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for age and height, an intense fear of weight gain or being "fat" even though underweight, a disturbance in the experience of body weight or shape, influence of weight or shape on self-evaluation, or denial of the seriousness of low body weight, and loss of menstrual periods in girls and women post-puberty.

Anorexia nervosa is a persistent and potentially life-threatening disorder. Anorexia has one of the highest death rates of any mental health condition. It can have some serious effects on a person's health. Some of these health consequences include: abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure, reduction of bone density (osteoporosis), which results in dry, brittle bones, muscle loss and weakness, severe dehydration, which can result in kidney failure, fainting, fatigue, and overall weakness, hair thinning, anemia, loss of menstrual periods, problems growing, and dry skin that bruises easily.

Common treatments for anorexia nervosa include: emergency procedures to restore weight, cognitive-behavioral therapy, antidepressants or other medications, and family therapy. The first priority medical professionals have with anorexics is to address their physical condition, and try to get them nutritionally stable. This isn't always easy, as many anorexics are in denial about their condition. They are often brought in for treatment unwillingly rather than seeking help on their own and see no reason why they should begin eating. Cognitive- behavioral therapy focuses on the thoughts about food and eating and helps the patient become more self-aware concerning food. Family therapy examines the family dynamics that may contribute to anorexia and often includes some therapy sessions without the patient.

Bulimia nervosa is characterized by frequent episodes of binge eating, lack of control over eating, and recurrent inappropriate behavior to prevent weight gain. A person with bulimia fears gaining weight yet has an uncontrollable compulsion to binge on foods. After bingeing on food a person will use very unhealthy ways to purge such as vomiting, frequent use of laxatives, water pills, enemas, fasting, or extreme exercise. Bulimia nervosa typically occurs in women and an estimated

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