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Controlling Eating Disorders Essay

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Updated: Apr 10th, 2020

Many people around the world suffer from various eating disorders. The disorders are brought about by a number of factors. They involve psychological problems that affect individuals depending on the diets they take. Some of these issues involve excessive consumption of food accompanied by little or no physical exercise. People with these diseases tend to be affected socially, physically, and psychologically. Consequently, their productivity and quality of life are significantly reduced.

Affected persons have problems with their weight. The developments cause stress to them (Bulik, Sullivan, Wade & Kendler, 2000). It is also noted that individuals with these problems complain of depression and anxiety. In addition, they are at a high risk of engaging in substance abuse and other negative coping mechanisms. However, the problems can be treated through a number of medical procedures.

In this paper, the author is going to provide critical analysis of strategies used to control eating disorders. It is important to manage these problems as they compromise the physical health of the individual. To this end, the author will highlight the various types of eating disorders, as well as their control and treatment.

Types of Eating Disorders

There are various types of eating disorders. The different types are brought about by a combination of various factors. In addition, they have varying impacts on the physical health of the individual. Some of them are discussed below:

Anorexia Nervosa

The disorder is characterized by refusal to eat. As a result, individuals are unable to maintain a healthy body weight. They have a pathological fear of gaining weight and becoming obese. The fear is what compels them to reduce their food intake (Crow et al., 2009). It is noted that the problem can affect both children and adults. The disorder is especially common among women and girls in their early twenties. The reason is that these groups of individuals are conscious of their body image.

Persons suffering from anorexia nervosa are diagnosed with various mental disorders. The individuals are usually disturbed by the size and shape of their body. In most cases, they in denial of their current weight or size (Bulik et al., 2000). Another trait associated with the problem is amenorrhea.

The condition entails the absence of three consecutive menstrual cycles in a healthy individual. The interruption of these cycles is brought about by the unhealthy diet taken by the person. It is one of the indications of how this eating disorder can compromise the individual’s physical health. Symptoms of the disorder include severe food restrictions, low body weight, and pale skin. The unhealthy color of the skin is brought about by lack of enough blood in the system.

The problem can be treated in the hospital if discovered on time. Medical intervention is necessary given that the condition is associated with various health complications (Crow et al., 2009). The complications include infertility, brain damage, osteopenia, and osteoporosis. Others entail organ failure, low blood pressure, and anemia. The latter is brought about by insufficient blood in the body. The eating disorder may also result in constipation and heart failure. If the condition is not well managed, it can lead to death.

Bulimia Nervosa

It is regarded as the opposite of anorexia. The condition is associated with bingeing and purging. The former involves consumption of quantities of food that are more than those consumed by normal people under similar circumstances (Wilson, Grilo & Vitousek, 2007). The binge and purging cycle can be repeated several times during the day (Godart et al., 2003). It is simply the consumption of excess food with complete disregard for portions.

People suffering from the problem lack control over the amount of food they take. It is noted that some of these individuals may wish to reduce their consumption. However, this may be impossible due to the routine formed.

The most common compensatory behavioral patterns reported by patients include excessive use of diuretics, compulsive physical exercise, fasting, and forced vomiting (Fairburn, Cooper & Shafran, 2003). Patients suffering from the disorder may be able to maintain healthy body weight. However, most of them are overweight. The increased weight may result in lowered self-esteem.

The eating disorder is associated with a wide range of symptoms. They include severe dehydration due to forced vomiting and electrolytic imbalances. The latter involves unhealthy levels of certain elements in the system.

The levels may be too low or too high. The minerals involved include, among others, potassium, sodium, and calcium. The erratic level of these compounds may lead to stroke or heart attack (Fairburn et al., 2003). Swollen salivary glands, intestinal distress, and irritation, as well as acid reflux, are other symptoms related to the disorder (Crow et al., 2009).

Binge-Eating Disorder

It is another common eating disorder. The problem is closely related to bulimia nervosa. The only difference between the two is that people affected by binge-eating have no control over their eating habits. In addition, episodes of compulsive eating are not followed by compensatory acts like fasting and forced vomiting. In addition, patients suffering from this disorder tend to consume food even when they are not physically hungry. As a result, the body is unable to burn all the calories.

Consequently, fat accumulates in the body (Godart et al., 2003). People with binge-eating disorder are usually overweight. Most of them are at risk of becoming obese. Other complications related to the problem include high blood pressure and heart failure. Fatigue is also a common indicator of the disorder.

Like the other eating disorders, binge-eating has a number of signs and symptoms. They include uncontrolled eating habits, excess weight gain, poor breathing due to the accumulation of fats in the respiratory system, sweating, fatigue, and discomfort. Patients suffering from the disease usually feel powerless and lack control over their eating habits (Jacobi, Hayward, Zwaan, Kraemer & Agras, 2004). The problem can be controlled through medical intervention.

Obesity

The condition is also associated with eating disorders. It is characterized by the accumulation of excess fat in the body (Crow et al., 2009). As a result, the person becomes overweight. The condition compromises the individual’s physical health given that it is associated with various complications. Such issues include reduced life expectancy, heart attack, and diabetes.

Control and Treatment of Eating Disorders

People suffering from the disorders highlighted above can seek medical help to manage their condition. However, it is important to note that the control and treatment of these problems do not necessarily involve the use of drugs. On the contrary, patients may require psychotherapy or psychological counseling. Medical and nutritional needs can be addressed after counseling.

Counseling helps to deal with established bad eating habits (Striegel-Moore & Bulik, 2007). In addition, it allows the individuals to become aware of the long term effects the habits have on their lives. The reason is that most people are ignorant of these impacts.

A number of medical tests are carried out to establish whether a person is suffering from the disorders or not. Under normal circumstances, a complete blood count test can be conducted. A comprehensive metabolic profile to evaluate the distribution of minerals like sodium, potassium, and chloride can also be done. Serum magnesium, urinalysis, and thyroid screen tests are other clinical examinations that may be conducted. A medical specialist may also decide to conduct a physical exam (Wilson et al., 2007).

The physical examination is meant to rule out other medical issues that may result in eating habits. Psychological evaluations are also conducted on the individuals suffering from the disorder to establish their mental status. The assessments also provide information about their feelings and thoughts with regards to their eating habits.

Patients suffering from eating disorders may present a number of special needs. The treatment plan to be adopted usually depends on the needs identified. Medical care and monitoring may be one of the needs. Anti-depressants are recommended for the treatment of some of the disorders, such as bulimia nervosa.

Nutritional counseling may also be conducted to teach the patients on proper eating. The clients are made aware of what they need to eat to maintain a balanced and healthy diet (Wilson et al., 2007). Individual or family physiotherapy can also be adapted to deal with the disorder.

Conclusion

Eating disorders are harmful to the physical health of individuals. Persons suffering from these problems should seek medical and psychiatric help promptly. The right way to manage the disorders is to regulate the intake of food. In addition, individuals should adopt healthy eating habits. Today, many children are affected by the problem. Consequently, controlled intake of food will help in protecting the health of the young generation.

References

Bulik, C., Sullivan, P., Wade, T., & Kendler, K. (2000). Twin studies of eating disorders: A review. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 27(1), 1-20.

Crow, S., Peterson, C., Swanson, S., Raymond, N., Specker, S., Eckert, E., & Mitchell, J. (2009). Increased mortality in bulimia nervosa and other eating disorders. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 166(12), 1342-1346.

Fairburn, C., Cooper, Z., & Shafran, R. (2003). Cognitive behavior therapy for eating disorders: A “transdiagnostic” theory and treatment. Behavior Research and Therapy, 41(5), 509-528.

Godart, N., Flament, M., Curt, F., Perdereau, F., Lang, F., Venisse, J., & Fermanian, J. (2003). Anxiety disorders in subjects seeking treatment for eating disorders: A DSM-IV controlled study. Psychiatry Research, 117(3), 245-258.

Jacobi, C., Hayward, C., Zwaan, M., Kraemer, H., & Agras, W. (2004). Coming to terms with risk factors for eating disorders: Application of risk terminology and suggestions for a general taxonomy. Psychological Bulletin,130(1), 19.

Striegel-Moore, R., & Bulik, C. (2007). Risk factors for eating disorders. American Psychologist, 62(3), 181.

Wilson, G., Grilo, C., & Vitousek, K. (2007). Psychological treatment of eating disorders. American Psychologist, 62(3), 199.

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