Many psychologists are apt to think that eating disorders are not so serious diseases to be paid much attention. At the same time the number of people suffering from these illnesses is increasing from year to year.
Eating disorders can be defined as “illnesses in which the victims suffer severe disturbances in their eating behaviors and related thoughts and emotions” (“Eating Disorders. Healthy Minds. Healthy Lives” 1). There are many social, economic and personal factors that influence eating behavior. An important role is also paid to emotional aspects. Thus, a child for the first time ever feels a release and satisfaction during breastfeeding. In such a way, satisfying hunger is connected with a feeling of comfort and security. It is also necessary to mention a social meaning of food. There is a mutual dependence between different traditions, eating habits and inclination to eating disorders. Sometimes a demand in food serves as a purpose of stress relieving, self-affirmation, and satisfaction of unfilled demands.
Eating disorders often cause physical complications and even death. “The mortality rate for people with eating disorders is the highest of all psychiatric illnesses and over 12 times higher than that for people without eating disorders” (“What is an eating disorder?” par.1).
“There are three main types of eating disorders” (“Eating Disorders. Healthy Minds. Healthy Lives” 1). They are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and eating disorders not otherwise specified (Berkman et al. 16). According to the opinion of some researches, binge eating disorders should be also included in the third group.
“Anorexia nervosa is a serious psychiatric illness marked by an inability to maintain a normal healthy body weight, often dropping well below 85 percent of ideal body weight” (Berkman et al. 9).
As a rule, a refuse from food is connected with an intentional desire of individuals to reduce the weight of their body. Those patients who suffer from anorexia nervosa are not satisfied with their appearance and the size or the shape of their bodies. In the majority of cases, these persons are perfectionists with low self-esteem. They are very self-critical and the fear of putting on some weight is their fixed idea.
“Bulimia nervosa is characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating in combination with some form of inappropriate compensatory behavior” (Berkman et al 13). There are several criteria, which are typical for the patients suffering from this illness. They are an unscratchable itch for food even if a person is not hungry, attempts to resist gaining of weight by means of laxatives, starvation and vomiting, and eating a huge amount of food in a short period of time even without tasting it.
Those eating disorders, which do not meet the definition of the above-mentioned illnesses, are considered to be eating disorders which are not specified. In this group it is possible to mention binge eating disorders, which are characterized by practically the same symptoms that are typical for bulimia nervosa. Unlike the patients suffering from bulimia nervosa, the patients with binge eating disorder do not attempt to get rid of the consumed food.
The eating disorders are the typical example of the dependence between physical and mental health. A treatment of these illnesses is a very complicated process. For the patients suffering from anorexia nervosa, the key factor that determines a success of the treatment is an assistance in regaining weight. “For patients with binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa it is important to help interrupt and stop binges” (“Eating Disorders. Healthy Minds. Healthy Lives” 2). Last years the main focus of attention of the researches in this field is given to understanding of patients motives and emotions. It is believed that the understanding of patients behavior will help in treatment of these illnesses.
Berkman, Nancy, Cynthia Bulik, Kimberly Brownley, Kathleen Lohr, Jan Sedway, Adrienne Rooks, and Gerald Gartlehner. “Management of Eating Disorders.” Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 135.06 (2006): 1-167. Web.
“Eating Disorders. Healthy Minds. Healthy Lives.” American Psychiatric Association. 2005. Print.