Sunday, February 22, 2009

Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa

Eating Disorders Treatment, Symptoms of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are some of the most destructive illnesses today. Although a commonly used term, the meaning is often a source of confusion for many people. Basically, eating disorders happen to people whose diet patterns have gone awry somewhere along the way and ultimately lead to eating habits that are damaging and dangerous.

Eating disorders are a very serious problem, and those suffering from them need to get the proper treatment in order to be able to resume leading normal, healthy lives. Depending on where you live and the severity of the eating disorder, there are various options available for treatment. Those suffering from severe anorexia or bulimia will most likely find an inpatient treatment most beneficial.

Eating disorders are characterized by critical disturbances in eating behaviors. A person afflicted with this problem may voluntarily resort to an unhealthy reduction in food intake or may abnormally take in more food than necessary. Feelings of guilt and extreme concern over weight or body shape likewise accompany this malady.

Driven by the compulsive need to avoid weight gain, many eating disorder sufferers consume large quantities of laxatives in order to rid the body of the food they eat. Laxatives are a readily available form of medication normally taken to treat constipation. Indeed, sufferers of bulimia and anorexia often complain about constipation and feeling bloated.

Eating disorders are not a problem with food; however it is a problem with mental health. When a person looks into the mirror, he or she does not like the way they look and think they are fat even though they are stick boney.

There are eating disorder treatment options which can be used to offset the physical and emotional damage caused by eating disorders. Although common among troubled teens, eating disorders affect women and men of all ages including small children.

Anorexics often have the feeling that calorie intake and weight is the only thing they can control in their lives. Many have very low self esteem and some even feel they don't deserve to eat. People with anorexia usually won't seek help for themselves because they fear being forced to eat and get fat. It is possible, however, for anorexia to be treated and cured.

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder that consists of repeated bouts of binge eating. A person who is a binge eater has an uncontrollable urge to eat excessive amounts of food. This person will believe that he or she is overweight even when they are not. Some of these people induce vomiting, also known as purging, or use laxatives or diuretics to get rid of all of the food that was eaten during binging. Other people might fast and/or exercise excessively instead.

Factors Which Cause Eating Disorders

Eating disorders is not caused by a single factor, there are many factors that can play a role in the appearance of these disorders like cultural and family pressures, emotional and personality disorders and also genetic and biological factors.

Similar personality traits like low self-esteem, dependency, and problems with self-direction are present to people with eating disorders. Specific personality disorders or behavioral characteristics that might put people at higher risk for one or both of the eating disorders have been determined by researchers.

The following personality disorders like avoidant personalities and dependent personalities mostly in anorexia and borderline and histrionic personalities mostly in bulimia and narcissism which can be present in anorexia and bulimia too have been reported by studies. Patients with bulimia or anorexia can present one of these personality traits. The more important factor in determining treatment choices may be the patient's specific personality disorders even if they are anorexic and bulimic.

Avoidant personalities are present to people with anorexia. The symptoms which characterize this personality disorder are: being a perfectionist, being emotionally and sexually inhibited, having less of a fantasy life than people with bulimia or without an eating disorder, not being rebellious, or usually perceived as always being "good", being terrified of being ridiculed or criticized or of feeling humiliated.

Behavioral and eating pattern can be developed by the person with both anorexia and avoidant personality disorder. So for some individuals the only way to obtain love is achieving perfection, with all that involves. Trouble-free and attaining some ideal image of thinness make part of the drive for perfection. In this case the individual is driven to demand nothing, including food. A sense of being even more imperfect and a renewed sense of striving for perfection precede the failure to achieve love. Anorexic patients have a total lack of self but generally people with eating disorders are not typically suicidal. Through process of not-eating they try to revenge on those whose love is always out of reach.

Borderline personalities can be present to people with bulimic anorexia. The following characteristics can be present to these people like: frantically fearful of being abandoned, unable to be alone, difficulty to control their anger and impulses, prone to idealize other people and unstable moods, thought patterns, behavior and self-images. Emotional weapons like temper tantrums, suicide threats, and hypochondriasis can be used by the people with borderline personalities for causing chaos around them. The difficulty in treating bulimia can be the severity of this personality disorder and it can be more important than the presence of psychological problems, such as depression.

The following personality traits like inability to soothe oneself, inability to empathize with others, need for admiration, hypersensitive to criticism or defeat can be present to people with bulimia or anorexia which are often highly narcissistic. Depression and anxiety disorders can be present to patients which have eating disorder but also can be present in families of these patients. It is unknown if emotional disorders, especially obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), are causes of the eating disorders.

About 69% of patients with anorexia and 33% of patients with bulimia have obsessive-compulsive disorder which is an anxiety disorder. It is believed that eating disorders are variants of OCD. In compulsive behavior, repetitive, rigid, and self-prescribed routines that are intended to prevent the manifestation of the obsession, may be present obsessions which are recurrent or persistent mental images, thoughts or ideas. Generally women with anorexia and OCD may become obsessed with exercise, dieting, and food. Compulsive rituals like weighing every bit of food, cutting it into tiny pieces, or putting it into tiny containers are often developed at these patients. Other anxiety disorders like phobias, panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been associated with bulimia and anorexia.

At people with eating disorders, especially anorexia, depression is present which is more severe in darker winter months. Also the patients with bulimia suffer from a specific form of bulimia which is worse in winter. May seems to be the peak month for suicide because the onset of anorexia appears to peak in this month. An eating disorder is rarely cured by treating and relieving depression. Social, psychologic or possibly biologic factors can cause a distorted view of one's body called body dysmorphic disorder which can be associated with anorexia or bulimia but can also appear without any eating disorder. In this case emotional disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression are commonly to people with this disorder. A disorder in which people have distorted body images involving their muscles has been reported by experts and it is present to men which believe that are "puny" and results in excessive body building, preoccupation with diet and social problems.

Another factor which is present in triggering and perpetuating eating disorders is negative family influence. Children with insecure attachments are present in family with parents who fail to provide a safe and secure foundation in infancy. Mothers play an important role in their child's life. So mothers of people with bulimia are critical and detached and mothers of anorexics tend to be over-involved in their child's life. People with either eating disorder have parents with alcoholism or substance abuse. It seems that psychiatric disorders are present to parents of people with bulimia than parents of patients with anorexia. A higher incidence of sexual abuse is often present to women with bulimia. People with bulimia have an obese parent or have been overweight themselves during childhood. Parents can influence their children's eating habits and prevent weight problems and eating disorders through a healthy eating habits themselves.

Genetic factors play an important role in anorexia. From this point of view twins had a tendency to share specific eating disorders (anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and obesity). A genetic propensity toward thinness caused by a faster metabolism and reinforced by cultural approval, an inherited propensity for obesity and inherited personality traits are some inherited traits that might make someone susceptible to eating disorders. Culture pressures is other factor which can lead to anorexic people.For example clothes for thin bodies, TV programs which present anorexic young models. Excessive exercise plays a major role in many cases of anorexia at athletes. Young female athletes and dancers may present the following problems:eating disorders, amenorrhea (absence or irregular menstruation) and osteoporosis.

The most common factor present in eating disorders which include chemical abnormalities in the thyroid, the reproductive regions, and areas related to stress, well-being and appetite are hormonal problems. A result of malnutrition or other aspects of eating disorders is the change of these chemicals. The limbic system is a small area of the brain where many of these abnormalities begins. Also hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) is a specific system with an important role in eating disorders. In brain is found a small structure that controls our behavior, like eating, sexual behavior and sleeping, and regulates body temperature, emotions, secretion of hormones, and movement called hypothalamus. An extension of the hypothalamus downwards called the pituitary gland controls thyroid functions, the adrenal glands, growth and sexual maturation. Major emotional activities like anxiety, depression, aggression and affection are controlled and regulated by amygdala,a small structure which lies deep in the brain.

Stress hormones called glucocorticoids are produced by the HPA system, including the primary stress hormone cortisol which is very important in marshaling systems throughout the body (including the heart, lungs, circulation, metabolism, immune systems, and skin) to deal quickly with any threat. The inhibition of neuropeptide Y (NPY), a powerful appetite stimulant that also has anti-anxiety properties is one of the specific effects. Certain neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) that regulate stress, mood and appetite and are being heavily investigated for a possible role in eating disorders are released by the HPA system. Serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine are the three hormones that are important. So norepinephrine is a stress hormone, serotonin is involved with both well-being and appetite and dopamine is involved in reward-seeking behavior. Low levels of leptin, a hormone that appears to trigger the hypothalamus to stimulate appetite have been observed in people with anorexia and bulimia.

The reproductive hormones that are severely depleted in anorexics are produced by the hypothalamic-pituitary system. Some experts believe that these reproductive abnormalities are a result of anorexia and others have shown that menstrual disturbances occurred before severe malnutrition set in and remained a problem long after weight gain in 30% to 50% of people with anorexia.

There are many factors who contribute at development of anorexia. Unfortunately teenage females are the most affecte

Does Your Teenager Have An Eating Disorder?

One of the most difficult jobs that a parent can experience is the important task of raising a healthy, confident, and goal oriented teenager into early adulthood. However, all too often our young children run into serious problems along the way through being a teenager. One such problem that may stay below the parent's “radar” are eating disorders.

Are you worried that your teenage son or teenage daughter may have some type of eating disorder that they are trying to keep from you and the rest of the family? This type of disorder can be quite common during the teen years, especially with teenage girls. Although we do see teenage boys go through some eating problems as well.

Like adults, eating disorders in children are usually a combination of factors - physical and emotional. On one hand, dieting in young children is instrumental in eating disorder development; on the other hand, it can be a method of weight control for obese children. The family eating environment and influence of parents are important factors in childhood eating disorders.

With so much emphasis on looks and popularity today and mixed with the already insecure feeling that teenagers have as their bodies are changing, developing an eating disorder may be an underlying problem in your teen’s life. It is important to understand and educate yourself on the two major types of eating disorders that many of our youths may be going through.

If you suspect that your teenage son or daughter has any type of problem at all, first talk to your doctor. Not to be hesitant about trying to correct the problem by yourself at first.

Eating disorders always stem from another underlying problem and so by focusing on food as the issue, you will more than likely make things worse for your teen instead of helping him or her. In fact, studies have shown that early discovery and treatment of eating disorders will provide the best chance of recovery.

What eating disorders should you be concerned about?

Anorexia Nervosa

With this first eating disorder, your teen may experience excessive weight loss due to self-starvation. As ironic as it seems, most teenagers prone to this type of eating disorder are typically involved in sports such as dance or gymnastics, where their body size and weight play an important role in success.

Bulimia Nervosa

The second eating disorder described here involves very frequent episodes of binge eating which is almost always followed by purging the food through self induced vomiting. It doesn't sound pretty but if your teenager has this eating disorder then they are probably practicing this with most, if not all of their meals due to intense feelings of guilt and shame about food.

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