The Types and Causes of Eating Disorders

 By: Michael Russell Platinum Expert Author
Anorexia nervosa, which afflicts adolescent and young women, is the relentless pursuit of thinness through self-starvation. Basically, anorexia nervosa is a psychiatric disorder with the main issue a struggle for control and a sense of identity. Many young women affected with this disorder try to make themselves over and to be perfect in the eyes of others, usually parents with extremely high expectations. Even when they are less than ideal body weight for their age, height and body frame; they see themselves as fat when looking in a mirror.

The outstanding characteristic of this disorder is reduced calorie intake. Not only is the amount of food rigidly restricted, but the pattern of eating becomes disorganized in bizarre ways. In contrast to the ordinary dieter, who makes the supreme sacrifice each time she an rejects ice cream sundae or suffers every time she declines her hostess' offer of chocolate cake, the anorectic will insist the she is not hungry, does not need to eat and that not wanting to eat is "normal". In contrast to her emaciated appearance, she is overly active, often exercising religiously for many hours each day or increasing her participation in sports.

She is an overachiever and her parents will describe her as "a real perfectionist". Secondary amenorrhea, the cessation of menstrual periods, may occur not only as a result of psychological stress, but especially because of too little body fat in relation to total body weight. The cessation of menstruation is nature's way of saying, "This body would not be able to carry a baby".

In advanced stages of emaciation, true loss of appetite may result from severe nutritional deficiency, similar to the complete lack of interest in food that occurs in the late stages of starvation during a famine. If such becomes the case, hospitalization may be recommended. Before such an advanced stage of the illness is reached, it is essential that the condition be approached by psychotherapists who specialize in the treatment of eating disorders. Therapy usually involves the family as well as the young woman herself.

Bulimia is an eating disorder characterized by compulsively eating large amounts of food very quickly and then getting rid of it by vomiting or using strong laxatives. These episodes of "bingeing and purging" may occur as often as a dozen times a day.

The health risks can be devastating and where signs of the disorder exist, treatment should be sought as promptly as possible. All specialists agree that early treatment of this disorder is essential to recovery because the aberration not only can become a lifelong pattern, but can do irreversible bodily harm if permitted to continue.

Since many bulimics are likely to suffer from depression and obsessive compulsive disorders, psychotherapy may be combined with Prozac. This drug was approved by the FDA in 1994 for treating bulimia because it effectively helps the body produce and maintain adequate levels of serotonin, the natural substance that regulates moods.

Unlike bulimia, binge eating (compulsive eating or eating gone out of control) is not followed by purging but by profound feelings of guilt, shame and distress. This eating disorder, which is far more prevalent than either anorexia or bulimia, is presumed to account for the large number of seriously obese women who repeatedly try to lose weight and fail. Specialists found out that this disorder can be brought under control by medication and a nutritionist developing a personalized regimen of meals that reduce underlying feelings of deprivation and emotional emptiness.
Author: Platinum Expert Author
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Article Tags: eating disorder

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