Eating Disorders, and How Doctors and Psychologists Term Paper

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¶ … eating disorders, and how doctors and psychologists treat them. There are three well-known eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. All of these disorders are now recognized as diseases, and they have spread from America around the world as women and girls obsess about their weight and body image. Eating disorders are dangerous and can be fatal if left untreated.

Perhaps the most well-known eating disorder is anorexia nervosa, usually referred to as anorexia. It has also been known as the "starving disease." Women (and some men) literally eat next to nothing, as they are obsessed with gaining weight and appearing fat or overweight. Many people do not know anorexia has been written about for centuries, but it is more common today because of societal demands on women to be thin. A typical anorexic will eat almost nothing and/or exercise compulsively to sustain a body weight that is at least 85% under what doctors consider to be normal body weight. In addition, anorexics usually do not see themselves as too thin, and they worry about gaining any amount of weight, even a pound. They do not see reality, and obsess about being fat, even when they are almost skeletons. In older girls and women, anorexia can also affect monthly menstrual cycles, causing them to disappear (Smolak, Levine, and Striegel-Moore xvi). For a diagnosis, all of these items must be present, and the menstrual cycles must have ceased for at least three months.

Bulimia nervosa shares some of the same characteristics with anorexia, but with this disease, women tend to eat normally, or at least appear to eat normally, then they vomit what they have eaten in an effort to lose or maintain their weight. In addition, bulimics may use laxatives or diuretics (water pills) to help them control their weight. Binge eating syndrome and bulimia are often characterized as the same disorder, but they do have some differences. Bulimics may often eat large amounts of food (binge), and then feel guilty or out of control about their actions, and attempt to purge themselves of the food. It is harder to pick out bulimics, because they often have a relatively normal body weight, and so their appearance is not always a sign of the disease (Editors, 2002). This disorder can lead to heart disease, electrolyte imbalance, and even death. The case of Terri Schiavo, who suffered brain damage after her heart stopped is an excellent example, as it is believed she was bulimic, and her heart stopped because of her constant vomiting. Binge Eating Disorder is closely tied to bulimia, but binge eaters are often overweight, and do not purge themselves after their eating. This disorder can lead to obesity and many other health problems, such as heart disease, high cholesterol, and even diabetes or gallbladder disease (Editors, 2002). In fact, all of these eating disorders can be dangerous, and even deadly.

Each of these diseases is treatable, but success rates vary. Some patients have a very difficult time gaining weight and returning to good health. Most all treatments include medical intervention, but also intense psychotherapy to help the patient cope with the disease and discover what has helped cause the disease. Experts note,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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