Facts On Eating Disorders

Facts on eating disorders are plentiful in the many online websites located across the World Wide Web. These websites may come under the heading anorexic or bulimic treatment centers or under help for overeaters, but they are the same from site to site. A chronic addiction to binge eating, anorexia or bulimia is a very serious situation, and one in which the patient needs more than a lecture, sermon or harsh words. These disorders are very much under the pervue of mental health professionals, because the issues that bring these behaviors about are lodged deep within the psyche of the ones acting on these compulsions. For the person to whom food is just fuel for the day, all of this may seem a little strange. But for those who are trapped in its hold, food addiction is often a fight for physical survival.

It is true that there are many websites that can be a very big help to the loved ones of those who is caught in food addiction. These websites offer many facts on eating disorders. Sometimes even those suffering from these issues will read them, as well as books and magazine articles also, but in most cases reading about them is never enough and it takes the intervention of loved ones to make the real difference. In at least the case of anorexia, the disorder is seen as a mental illness, and if not treated can result in the death of the person with the disorder. In the case of over eating, the resulting obesity can bring about life threatening issues such as heart problems, stroke, diabetes and bone and joint dysfunction. But facts on eating disorders also include this caveat: people who have eating disorders may or may not be overweight or underweight and so this physical sight evaluation is not always an accurate one.

Anorexia nervosa has treatment centers around the world exclusively for its intervention and treatment. Most often the client who goes to a private or a hospital sponsored addiction treatment center is a young woman, usually in her teen years or early college adulthood. However, there is growing evidence that a small percentage of men are also caught in anorexia's often deadly trap. The causes for the disease may be more than one dimensional. Some patients may be biologically predisposed to the disorder especially if their mother also had a similar issue. While it's not clear exactly how genetics play a role, some people may have a natural bent towards depression, especially when serotonin in the brain is in short supply. Facts on eating disorders often contain low self-esteem as a prime factor in the psychological makeup of many anorexic patients and the American and European obsession with thinness, especially in women.

Facts on eating disorders tell us that the anorexic person has a severely distorted view of herself. Looking into the mirror, a very normal weight girl may see a two hundred pound woman staring back at her. And as the disease progresses, a skeletal young woman may see someone who still needs to lose ten or fifteen pounds to be "right." Yet there is never enough weight that is lost and unless intervention is successful, the young woman dies of starvation, or from the onset of some disease caused by the starvation tactics. Facts on eating disorders often include encouraging parents to have their pediatricians to ask questions of children early on about their eating habits and their mental health state. Oftentimes questions about whether or not children like the way they look can detect the beginnings of low self esteem, the nurturing bed of food addiction practices.

The world of the bulimic person is a world of deception and hiding. Bulimia, from the many facts on eating disorders will reveal, is especially a strident issue with high achieving young women with often perfectionist tendencies. Bulimics often go on eating binges that are followed by purging sessions in which the bulimic uses ipecac or laxatives or diuretics or a combination of these products to bring about a release from the food's caloric effects on the body. Polite excuses from the table while the person suffering from bulimia vomits in the bathroom covered up by toilets flushing or shower water running is often an everyday occurrence. Food hidden around the house where binges can be easily satisfied is part of the bulimia deception. Parents of young people trapped in the addictive cyclone need to know that not only can doctors help, but that God is very much aware of your pain. Pray to God the way David prayed when he was distressed: "Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast." (Psalm 57:1)

Compulsive overeaters may be the most prolific of all the food addicts in the country. Numbers tells us that almost 50% of the population is overweight. Facts on eating disorders that deal with an overeating compulsion always begin with the emotional side of the issue. Many people with this particular disorder don't feel good enough for the rest of society and often carry a great shame for their weight, but then turn to food which seems to never let them down which only then leaves them feeling worse. Unlike anorexia or bulimia, compulsive overeaters are typically males. The issues are far more complex than just telling someone to quit eating so much. Cognitive therapy is often the best treatment for such patients.

Eating disorders are long term illnesses that affect mostly women and can lead to serious mental and physical health deterioration, requiring long-term treatment. In research today, estimates claim that as many as eight million Americans suffer from some form of these illnesses. Research also shows that ninety percent of those who suffer from these disorders are women between the ages of twelve and twenty-five with the numbers increasing for older women and men yearly. With such high numbers, it is important to have knowledge of the symptoms of eating disorders and seek help with professionals in the psychiatric fields when anyone is suspected of suffering from this problem.

The occurrence of these illnesses can frequently occur with other mental disorders. This can make it difficult to detect the symptoms of eating disorders. Symptoms can be coupled with substance abuse, depression, and a variety of anxiety problems. Signs of diseases of this magnitude can be overlooked, because often eating disorders will not drastically affect the weight or appearance of the person struggling with the illness. Many of those with this problem keep their habits in secret. Their conditions can go undiagnosed for a very long time. Although, with anorexia nervosa, the extreme weight loss can be more visible. People with bulimia often maintain a normal body weight and are able to completely hide their condition from casual friends or observers.

The most prevalent signs of these illnesses generally include, but are not limited to: dramatic weight loss in a short period of time (as with anorexia nervosa); wearing clothes that do not fit and hiding the body beneath layers of clothing; obsession with weight and talking about it and viewing themselves as over weight; obsessing over calories and fat content of food; frequent and continuous exercise; frequent trips to the bathroom immediately following eating; visible food restrictions or bingeing; isolation and loss of friends; unusual food rituals; hiding food in strange places; keeping a food diary; secretive eating habits; poor self image; hair loss; dizziness and headaches; and other physical symptoms that would lead a loved one or close friend to believe that this person is not getting ample nutrition. And ultimately, these eating disorders can lead to moodiness, depression, severe malnutrition, and even death.

Anyone suspected of suffering from this problem will need immediate help. The symptoms of eating disorders can cause serious emotional and physical problems for an individual. The Bible teaches that anything can be accomplished through Christ. Philippians 4:13 reads, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Even eating disorders can be overcome with Christ's strength and professional help

Treatment For Eating Disorders

The successful treatment for eating disorders hinges entirely on the skill and knowledge of a team of medical professionals: mental health, medical, registered dieticians, and family counselors. Despite the different disorders that afflict more than 5 million Americans each year, the treatment goal is essentially the same for each. Most faulty eating habits result in unhealthy weight loss. But a few cause unhealthy weight gains. Restoring healthy dietary habits and attaining a healthy weight is the goal. There are a dozen or more disorders, but most people are familiar with only a few of them. All disorders are serious health issues which cause both severe emotional and physical harm. Early diagnosis and intervention is critical in stopping the progression of damage to the body and healing the harm already done. Without proper intervention, debilitating injuries or death can occur. Basically, people afflicted with anorexia nervosa, binge-eating, bulimia nervosa, compulsive eating, and pica seek treatment for eating disorders.

Anorexia nervosa affects teenage girls and women in their early twenties. According to a website about anorexia nervosa, the disorder is characterized by a pathological fear of weight gain. This fear leads to excessive weight loss. The disorder will not disappear or go away by itself. A highly structured treatment for eating disorders program and support system is needed to restore health. Currently, there are no medications to treat eating disorders of any type. For the most part, intense therapy combined with education is the only course of action available. Binge-eating is characterized by recurrent periods of consuming large quantities of food, well past the point of being hungry. Compulsive eaters claim they are incapable of controlling the amount of food they eat or how often they eat. According to a medical website, compulsive eaters often over-indulge in sweet foods. People afflicted by bulimia nervosa quickly eat large amounts of food and then purge the food from their systems by self-induced vomiting, enemas, or laxatives. A person who is afflicted by pica craves non-food substances. The craved substances tend to vary with the person's age. Young children and pregnant women appear to be afflicted the most. Depending on the substance ingested serious medical complications can occur.

Primary care physicians, psychiatrists, dieticians, and social workers are the primary members of the team that provides treatment for eating disorders. Each member of the team has individual tasks, methods, and techniques, but they all work together toward one common goal. That goal is to restore a healthy body and clear mind of the person in their care. Psychological counseling helps the patient learn healthy ways to think about food and body image. Medical professionals work to heal health problems that have occurred due to malnutrition, starvation, or obesity. A dietician helps develop healthy dietary patterns. Family therapists strive to educate family members about how proper diet and exercise are essential to achieving optimal health. But God is the most important team member. Seek God's guidance and counsel. Ask a pastor to be part of the recovery plan, and make prayer an integral part of the treatment program. "Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer." (Psalm 4:1)

If any eating disorder is not treated quickly and a person's weight drops to dangerous levels, hospitalization may be required to restore healthy weight and mind function. If health problems have occurred due to obesity, malnutrition or starvation; hospitalization may be the only option. Many websites providing information about treatment for eating disorders suggest that people who are 15 percent or more under what is considered a healthy weight for their age and height will have a difficult time gaining weight without professional assistance. And people who are 25 percent or more under a healthy body weight will require hospitalization to restore health. A typical characteristic of all these disorders is that a person may not even realize there is a problem. The afflicted person's understanding and judgment is distorted. Therefore, intervention by a friend, family member, teacher, or church member is often required before treatment for eating disorders occurs.

Malnutrition and starvation may be the most serious characteristics of eating disorders. Once malnutrition and starvation starts to break down the body, medical treatment is the primary concern of the team providing treatment for eating disorders. One website lists several signs of malnutrition. Obviously, low body weight is one of the primary visible signs. But some symptoms and signals are not easily seen. For example, a malnourished person may have low blood pressure and a slow heart beat. The person may also feel cold all the time and have purplish skin from poor circulation. Dry skin, brittle nails, thinning hair, and shrunken breasts are signs, too. Stopping or never getting a monthly period is also an indication of malnutrition. Since some of the warning signs are not outwardly visible, concerned family and friends must probe for more information, if a disorder is suspected.

Parents, family, and friends have to be knowledgeable about what to look for and take the initiative to get seek out facilities and medical professionals that offer treatment for eating disorders. Causes of the afflictions vary from person to person. But an overwhelming desire to change body image is the root of the problem. This desire can be influenced by psychological or biological factors. Interpersonal and cultural forces may also play a strong role in the person's thinking. Restricting or excluding certain types of food or being secretive about eating habits is common. Over exercising is a red flag. Vomiting, laxatives and diuretics are potentially dangerous. Vomiting can damage teeth. Laxatives can cause dependency or constipation once they are discontinued. Diuretics can cause dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance. And none really accomplish what the person intends.

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