Food is a necessary part of all our lives. Many people experiment with food by becoming a vegan or trying out the latest dieting trend, and this within reason is generally accepted as being normal. However, eating patterns can become damaging and food can be abused. If an eating pattern begins to get erratic; perhaps eating too much or not at all, then the individual may be in danger of developing an eating disorder.
The problems society encounters from these disorders will be investigated, taking into consideration, the causes, different types of disorders, economic damage, health problems and treatments.To fully understand the problems within society, the meaning of eating disorders must clearly be explained. Contrary to what is often society’s perception, eating disorders are not primarily about food. They are symptoms of underlying emotional and psychological disorders and as such, have a huge impact on the lives of sufferers and their carers (Orbach, 1998).
Anorexia Nervosa is often thought to be the most serious of these disorders, with sufferers practicing self-starvation (Orbach, 1998).Whilst they will not have lost their appetite, they lose the ability to allow themselves to satisfy it. Eating disorders are often described as an outward expression of internal emotional pain and confusion (Gross, 2005). Obsessive thoughts about, and the behaviour associated with food are maladaptive means of dealing with emotional distress is often to do with a negative perception of self, a feeling of being able to change bad things about oneself (Gross, 2005).
Food is used as an inappropriate way of taking control...
.An eating disorder involves a distorted pattern of thinking about food and size/weight. There is preoccupation and obsession with food, as well as an issue of control, or the lack of control around food and its consumption. There are several recognised eating disorders which can be described as follows (Gross, 2005). Anorexia is characterised by a significant weight loss due to excessive dieting, most women and an increasing number of men, are motivated by the strong desire to be thin and a fear of becoming obese (NHS direct).
Anorexics consider themselves as thin no matter what their size or weight, they do not recognise their weight and will see themselves as fat no matter what others tell them. Even if they are close to death, they can still pinpoint bits of their body that they feel are fat, they feel, powerful and in control when they can make themselves lose weight (NHS direct). Focusing on calories and weight loss is their way of blocking out other feelings and emotions. Anorexia sufferers will do vast amounts of exercising whilst starving themselves in an added attempt as losing weight (NHS direct).Bulimia, is a psychological eating disorder that is characterized by episodes of binge-eating followed by inappropriate methods of weight control (Jane Ogden, 2003). Inappropriate methods of weight control include vomiting, fasting, enemas, excessive use of laxatives and diuretics, or compulsive exercising.
Excessive shape and weight concerns are also characteristics of bulimia. A binge is an episode where an individual eats a much larger amount of food than most people would in a similar situation.Binge eating is not
a response to intense hunger. It is usually a response to depression, stress, or self esteem issues. During the binge episode, the individual experiences a loss of control (Jane Ogden, 2003).
However, the sense of a loss of control is also followed by a short-lived calmness. The calmness is often followed by self-loathing. The cycle of overeating and vomiting usually becomes an obsession and is repeated often. Bulimia was only diagnosed as its own eating disorder in the 1980s (Jane Ogden, 2003).
In an attempt to understand eating disorders, scientists have studied the biochemical in the neuroendocrine system a combination of the central nervous and hormonal systems. Through carefully balanced feedback mechanisms, the neuroendocrine system regulates sexual function, physical growth and development, appetite and digestion, sleep, heart and kidney function, emotions, thinking, and memory in other words, multiple functions of the mind and body. Many of these regulatory mechanisms are seriously disturbed in people with eating disorders (Gross, 2005).In the central nervous system, particularly the brain key chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters control hormone production.
Scientists have found that the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine function abnormally in people affected by depression. Recently, researchers funded by NIMH have learned that these neurotransmitters are also decreased in acutely ill anorexia and bulimia patients and long-term recovered anorexia patients. Because many people with eating disorders also appear to suffer from depression, some scientists believe that there may be a link between these two disorders.In fact, new research has suggested that some patients with anorexia may respond well to the antidepressant medication fluoxetine which affects serotonin function in the body (Gross, 2005). If families play a role in the onset of eating disorders is still open for debate.
Some people with eating disorders say they feel smothered in overprotective families (Jane Ogden, 2003) . Others feel abandoned, misunderstood, and alone. Parents who overvalue physical appearance can unwittingly contribute to an eating disorder.So can those who make critical comments, even in jest, about their children’s bodies (Jane Ogden, 2003).
There is biological evidence to suggest that those with a mum or sister who have had the disorder are much more likely to get it themselves, but many believe that other social and cultural factors play a larger role (Bruch, 1973). Sometimes friends or partners can create pressure that encourages eating disorders, and parents who over value physical appearances can sometimes unconsciously contribute to anorexia (Bruch, 1973).People vulnerable to eating disorders, in most cases, are experiencing relationship problems and loneliness in particular. Some may be withdrawn with only superficial or conflicted connections to other people. Others may seem to be living exciting lives filled with friends and social activities, but later they will confess that they did not feel they really fit in, that no one seemed to really understand them, and that they had no true friends or confidants with whom they could share thoughts, feelings, doubts, insecurities, fears, hopes, ambitions, and so forth the basis of true intimacy (Bruch, 1973).
Often they desperately want healthy connections to others but fear criticism and rejection if their perceived flaws and shortcomings become known (Jane Ogden, 2003). On the
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