Effects of Eating Disorders

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All consume food. We all do so because we need the food to stay healthy and because we love feeding. Humans, on the other hand, are unique in any way, including their dietary habits. Some people eat more, and others eat less; some gain weight quickly, and others gain weight slowly. Others go to lengths by eating little or more in order to hurt themselves. This does damage to their bodies, and some people are compelled to seek medical treatment as a result of the extremes to which they are exposed (Kessler et al., 2013, p.907). Eating disorders are illness are ailments that are diagnosed by irregular eating habits which goes to the extent of one having certain distress on body size and shape. Irregular eating habits include inadequate of excessive food intake, which is known to damage people’s well-being. The most common forms of eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. These disorders affect both male and females.
Eating disorders can develop at any stage in life but they are known to occur mostly during the teens or young adulthood. Eating disorders are classified as medical illnesses. This means that treatment to them can be helpful for most of the specific types of disorders. Even though most of the eating disorders are treatable, their specific symptoms and effects can be detrimental and even deadly if not tackled in time (Stice, 2016, p. 362-363). Eating disorders are known to coexist with other conditions such as anxiety disorders, depression, and even substance abuse.
Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder that characterized by the individuals having an obsessive fear of gaining weight, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and having an unrealistic perception of the correct body shape and image. Most of the individuals with this disorder consume little amounts of food and see themselves as overweight while in the real sense they are underweight. Anorexia can have damaging effects such as brain damage, failure of various organs, heart failure, or difficulty in breathing, infertility, and bone loss (Lock & Le Grange, 2015). Other symptoms include having weight below 85% of the required weight, there is loss of menstrual period for women, individuals loose hair and have a low pulse rate, highly sensitive to cold, they like being isolated from friends, and family, they have a tendency of being self-critical and have compulsive exercise. Individuals with anorexia nervosa are at a higher risk of death.
Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder whereby individuals resort to binge eating followed by other habits that compensate for overeating. These habits or behaviors include; vomiting, working out most of the times, overuse of laxatives or even diuretics. Other symptoms include having swollen glands, weight fluctuation due to eating small amounts of food, being puffy in the facial area, menstrual irregularities, and perfectionism. Individuals who suffer from bulimia are afraid of gain weight is always unhappy of their body size and shape. They secretly binge eat creating feelings of shame (Bernacchi,& Dana, 2017, p.176-177). It’s like they are aware that what they are doing is unhealthy. They also lack control of their behavior. Bulimia can cause gastrointestinal problems, dehydration, and heart failure because of having an electrolyte imbalance.
Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder refers to people who have no control over their eating. It is similar to bulimia but binge eating is not characterized by episodes of fasting or excessive working out. As a result of this individuals suffering from binge eating disorder end up being obese and at a risk of developing cardiovascular disease due to them being obese. Men and women who suffer from this disorder may also experience embarrassment due to their weight, guilt and suffer from stress. Individuals suffering from binge eating disorder end up having weight fluctuations, self-hate and highly sensitive (Guerdjikova, 2017, p. 257-259). This could even make the disorder progress to worse case scenarios. This analysis on the three main eating disorders reveals that they have negative effects on both mental and physical condition of human beings.
Similarities between Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating.
Anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating are all categorized as eating disorders. All the three disorders come because of handling stress and anxiety. Females are highly susceptible to the disorders. However, other behavioral and environmental factors may also affect (Kessler et al., 2013, p.907).. Persons with anorexia are “too good to be true.” Rarely do they disobey, they are introverts, tend to keep to themselves, and are perfectionists, love sports and are good students. Some researchers believe that people with anorexia limit food amount to have control in some area of their lives. Controlling their weight appears to offer two initial advantages: they can take control of their bodies and gain approval from others. It eventually becomes clear however, that they are out of control and dangerously thin. People with bulimia and binge eating disorder take in huge amounts of food to relieve themselves of stress and anxiety. With binge eating, there is guilt and depression. Binge eating only brings temporary relief. Individuals with bulimia are make random decisions and end up getting involving in drug abuse and intake of excessive amounts of alcohol.
Individuals suffering from anorexia fear gaining weight hence avoid eating. Individuals suffering from bulimia suffer a cycle of overeating. Anorexia occurs early in a teen’s life while bulimia occurs in the late teen years. Anorexia is characterized by fear while bulimia is known by prolonged sadness. Both anorexia and bulimia are caused by chemical changes in the brain change in the level of dopamine and epinephrine and low levels of serotonin. Treatment of anorexia is majorly through psychotherapy and stress management exercises (Lock & Le Grange, 2015). As for bulimia, psychotherapy is regarded as one of its main treatment followed by cognitive behavioral therapy and medication using ECT, rTMS and hospitalization. Individuals suffering from anorexia focus on the future and fear something bad is going to happen. Bulimia patients’ focus on the present and regards things as already bad.
Mental and physical effects of anorexia
Anorexia is more than weight loss. It is more of a psychological disease even though it behaves like a physical disease. To be specific, it behaves like cancer. A cancer cell may affect a single organ but with time metastasizes in the whole body with the main goal of destroying every healthy cell it comes across. The same scenario happens with anorexia. Anorexia begins with a simple diet and weight loss goal. When the disease advances, it metastasizes and does not stop at the physical body of the victim. It proceeds to damaging the mind, spirit, relationships, and finally the whole of the victims’ life. Anorexia kills. Anorexia is known as the psychiatric disorder that has the highest fatality rate. Medical implications of anorexia include shrinking of the brain due to lack of good food (Kessler et al., 2013, p.907). The skeletal system is affected since anorexia occurs in early years of a teen before all the bones are fully developed. Because he completely hormonal system is on starvation, infertility results which in most cases is permanent. The major cause of death when one has anorexia is through heart failure and muscle deterioration. The body will try to maintain its life ad organs functioning. As a result, it ends up consuming the body muscles weakening the heart (Lock & Le Grange, 2015).
Mental and physical effects of Bulimia
People suffering from bulimia can have short-term effects and life threatening ones too. One of the physical effects includes vomiting. Induced vomiting causes several health problems. The most noticeable one is teeth discoloration. Vomiting comes with acid from the stomach, which wears away the enamel in the teeth. This wearing out of the teeth causes teeth to discolor. Individuals also suffer from cavities because of the enamel wearing out exposing the inner sensitive part of the teeth (Bernacchi,& Dana, 2017, p.176-177. From vomiting, individuals develop gastro esophageal junction, stomach erosion, and gastrointestinal bleeding from the corrosion by the stomach acid. Other damages include larynx being eroded and lungs being infected as a result.
People suffering from bulimia take laxatives, which help them, flush out food from their bodies. Irregular use of laxatives causes disruptions to the normal functioning of the colon. To others the effect may correct itself but to some people a surgery may be needed to restore the colon to normal functioning. Dehydration can occur because of electrolyte imbalance and cause great effects o the brain, heart, and kidneys. These could easily result to death since they are it affects the major organs in the body. Use of laxatives can affect the levels of calcium, potassium, and sodium which work together to provide the body with optimum levels of minerals. Patients with bulimia suffer from mental illnesses as a by-product of the eating disorder (Bernacchi,& Dana, 2017, p.176-177). Eating disorders trigger metal health conditions such as anxiety disorder, depression and other mood disorders, PTSD disorder and substance abuse disorder. Treating bulimia needs to start with the psychological issues.
Mental and physical effects of binge eating disorder
Binge eating carries physical, mental, and emotional effects. The physical consequences of binge eating result to serious health problems and premature deaths. Physical effects of binge eating develop gradually. They start with dehydration and imbalance of the electrolytes. These symptoms’ can easily lead to death or cause cardiac arrhythmias (Bernacchi, & Dana, 2017, p.179). This is a heart condition, which is very lethal. Binge eaters love eating food high in fat and low on protein. This means the patients are likely to be obese and have health issues such as severe depression, insomnia, gall bladder disease, suicidal thought, diabetes, high blood pressure, headaches, and muscle pain. Apart from the health issues, binge eaters experience frequent sore throats, severe tearing, and bleeding of the gullet and potassium deficiency. Potassium deficiency thus leads to muscular fatigue, weakness, erratic heartbeat, death paralysis, and severe kidney damage. Binge eaters also experience digestive problems which thus cause stomach cramps and nausea and finally to ulcers. Similarly, binge eating occurs with a wide range of other mental health conditions. Common co-occurring conditions include anxiety disorders, depression PTSD, social anxiety disorder, mood disorders, and substance abuse disorders.
Risk factors
Eating disorders mostly develop during the teen years but may also develop earlier to a child or later in life. The disorders affect both genders but more on women as compared to men. Like women, men also have eating disorders, for instance, men suffering from muscle dysmorphia, a disorder marked by an extreme concern with becoming more muscular. According to researchers, eating disorders are caused by genes, biological make up, psychological and social factors as well as behavioral.
Adequate food intake is required for people suffering from eating disorders. They also need to reduce excessive exercise and stop purging behaviors as a start of their treatment. Other treatments include psychotherapy, medical care and monitoring, nutritional counseling and medications. Psychotherapy is family based therapy, which cover the whole family. Additionally, families may undergo cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which will help identify distorted thinking patterns and recognize false beliefs.
Although often regarded as adult problems, eating disorders can start at teenage years while the sufferer is still at home. From the analysis above, people who suffer from eating disorders namely; anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating suffer adversely both mentally and physically. However, extreme exposure to the disorder without treatment may lead to death. Conversely, if treated early can heal and the patient be able to live a normal life.

Kessler, Ronald C., et al. "The prevalence and correlates of binge eating disorder in the World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys." Biological psychiatry 73.9 (2013): 904-914.
Stice, Eric. "Interactive and mediational etiologic models of eating disorder onset: Evidence from prospective studies." Annual review of clinical psychology 12 (2016): 359-381.
Lock, James, and Daniel Le Grange. Treatment manual for anorexia nervosa: A family-based approach. Guilford Publications, 2015.
Bernacchi, Dana Lynn. "Bulimia Nervosa: A Comprehensive Analysis of Treatment, Policy, and Social Work Ethics." Social Work 62.2 (2017): 174-180.
Guerdjikova, Anna I., et al. "Binge eating disorder." Psychiatric Clinics 40.2 (2017): 255-266.

August 09, 2021

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