Crossing the Line: Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are complex conditions that come from a combination of behavioral, emotional, psychological, interpersonal and social factors.
While eating disorders may begin with a preoccupation with food and weight, they are most often about much more than food. People with eating disorders often use food and control over food as a way to cope with feelings and emotions that may be overwhelming. For some, dieting, binging and purging may begin as a way to cope with painful emotions and to feel in control, but ultimately these behaviors damage a person's physical and emotional health, self-esteem and sense of competence and control. All eating disorders require professional help.
Source: National Eating Disorders Association; www.NationalEatingDisorders.org
- What is Anorexia Nervosa?
- Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by: 1. Intense fear of becoming fat which does not diminish with weight loss; 2. Maintenance of an inappropriate body weight with weight loss 15 percent below that expected for normal health; 3. Disturbance in the way one's body weight, size or shape is experienced, e.g. claiming to "feel fat" even when emaciated; 4. An absence of three menstrual cycles in females.
- What is Bulimia Nervosa?
- Bulimia is an eating disorder characterized by: 1. Recurrent episodes of binge-eating with an average of two or more binges per week; 2. Termination of the binge by purging with self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives and/or diuretics (drugs that make you urinate), strict dieting, diet pills or excessive exercise.
Individuals with either Anorexia or Bulimia practice harmful weight control measures and a denial of their illness. About 33 percent show evidence of having both disorders or switching back and forth between these disorders.
Symptoms and physical signs of Anorexia and Bulimia:
|Fear of being fat or gaining weight||Complaints of feeling bloated or nauseated when eating normal amounts of food|
|Feeling out of control; fear of not being able to stop eating voluntarily||Swollen and/or infected parotid glands (the glands under the jaw)|
|Loss of energy, fatigue||Dry Skin, thinning hair, brittle nails|
|Mood swings - depressed, irritable or anxious||Calluses or sores on the hand from self-induced vomiting, slow wound healing|
|Self-disparaging thoughts (reproachful, disapproving)||Teeth sensitivity|
|Intense dieting or exercise when not overweight; denial of hunger||Increased discomfort and intolerance to cold|
|Low self-esteem, which may not be initially apparent||Poor circulation, tingling bluish fingers|
|Excessive concern about food and calories||Red eyes from bursting blood vessels|
|Perfectionist thinking; sensitive to changes|
|Frequent weighing and overemphasis on scale weight|
Possible Medical Complications:
|Arrhythmia (irregular heart beat)||Dehydration and kidney failure|
|Endocrine and electrolyte imbalance (sodium and potassium abnormalities which may cause muscle spasms, kidney problems or cardiac arrest)||Severe digestive problems: Hypokalemic alkalosis from vomiting of stomach acid; gastric ulcers, esophageal bleeding|
|Dental problems: loss of tooth enamel, tooth decay||Menstruation irregularities or loss of menstrual periods|
Social and Emotional Consequences:
|Social isolation||Depression and loneliness|
|Loss of friendships||Loss if self-esteem, lack of self-worth|
|Absenteeism||Sense of increasing shame|
|Financial loss (medical, dental psychological treatment, plus funding "binge" eating)||Numbness, loss of awareness|
|Increased anger and irritability|
|Problems with drug and alcohol use|
|Anxiety, feelings of panic|
|Helplessness and loss of control|
All eating disorders require professional help. For more information, call the National Eating Disorders help line at 1-800-931-2237, or locally, call 1-801-387-7861. Web sites for eating disorder information are: www.NationalEatingDisorders.org and www.edreferral.com (eating disorder referral and information center).