Eating Disorders

Adolescence tends to be the developmental age for the onset of eating disorders which are defined as severe disturbances in eating behavior.  The effects of eating disorders are very serious and often involve medical and psychological instability sometimes even resulting in death.  Studies indicate that approximately 80% of high school students report a desire to loose weight.  Girls out number boys 10 to 1 in the presentation of eating disorder symptoms.  Treatment generally involves individual and family therapy, nutritional assessment and counseling and following by a pediatrician or primary care physician.  Although treatment requires time and commitment it can also be very rewarding as one works to reclaim their lives and relationship.

The three primary eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Compulsive Overeating and Binge Eating.

The predominant symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa are low self esteem and often a need to control emotions and surroundings.  Individuals are extremely sensitive about being perceived as fat or have a fear of becoming fat.  Some behavioral symptoms are calorie and fat gram counting, restriction of food, self induced vomiting, use of diet pills, diuretics or laxatives to attempt weight control and excessive exercise.

The predominant symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa are low self esteem, episodes of binging and purging to avoid feelings of depression, anger, stress and anxiety.  Some behavioral symptoms are recurring episodes of rapid food consumption (binging) followed by guilt and purging (self induced vomiting) regular dieting and excessive exercise.  There are many similarities with both illnesses and there also is often a connection to clinical depression.

Compulsive over eating is often referred to as an addiction to food; using it as a way to avoid feelings and to cope with daily stresses and problems.

Binge Eating is a combination of symptoms of compulsive over eating and Bulimia; often using binges to avoid feelings and cope with daily stresses.

Further Reading

Biting Anorexia: A Firsthand Account of an Internal War By: Lucy Howard-Taylor

Purge: Rehab Diaries By: Nicole Johns

Last updated: May 10, 2010

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