In a society that continues to prize thinness, almost everyone worries about their weight at some point in their lives. People with eating disorders take such concerns to extremes, developing abnormal eating habits that threaten their well being and even their lives.
Major types of eating disorders.
People with anorexia nervosa have a distorted body image that causes them to see themselves as overweight even when they are dangerously thin. Often refusing to eat, exercising compulsively, and developing unusual habits such as refusing to eat in front of others, they lose large amounts of weight and may even starve to death.
Individuals with bulimia nervosa eat excessive quantities of food, then purge their bodies of the food and calories they fear by using laxatives, enemas, diuretics, vomiting and or exercising. Often acting in secrecy, they feel disgusted and ashamed as they binge, yet relieved of tension and negative emotions once their stomachs are empty again.
Like people with bulimia, those with binge eating disorder experience frequent episodes of out of control eating. The difference is that binge eaters do not purge their bodies of excess calories.
It is important to prevent problematic behaviours from evolving into full-fledged eating disorders
n a society that continues to prize thinness, almost everyone worries about their weight at some point in their lives. People with eating disorders take such concerns to extremes, developing abnormal eating habits that threaten their well being and even their lives.
Who suffers from eating disorders?
Mostly, adolescent and young women account for ninety per cent of cases, nonetheless, eating disorders are not just a problem for the teenage women so often depicted in the media, older women, men, and boys can also develop these disorders.
People sometimes have eating disorders without their families or friends ever suspecting that they have a problem. Aware that their behaviour is abnormal, people with eating disorders may withdraw from social contact, hide their behaviour and deny that their eating patterns are problematic.
What causes eating disorders?
Many people with eating disorders suffer from low self-esteem and feelings of helplessness, and intense dissatisfaction with the way they look.
A wide range of situations can precipitate eating disorders in susceptible individuals. Family members and friends may repeatedly tease people about their bodies. Negative emotions and traumas such as rape and abuse or the death of a loved one can also trigger disorders.
Once people start engaging in abnormal eating behaviours, the problem can perpetuate itself. Bingeing can set a vicious cycle in motion, as individuals purge to rid themselves of excess calories, then binge again to escape problems in their day to day lives.
It is estimated that one in ten anorexia cases ends in death from starvation, suicide or medical complications like heart-attacks and or kidney failure.
Eating disorders devastates the body which can cause anaemia, palpitations, hair and bone loss, tooth decay, inflammation of the oesophagus and the cessation of menstruation. Furthermore, sufferers have higher rates of depression and anxiety disorders, and recreational substance abuse such as cocaine, marijuana, and hashish.
Psychotherapy is a vital role in the successful treatment of eating disorders. Doctors may be called to rule out medical illnesses and determine that the patient is not in immediate physical danger.
Once the psychotherapist has identified important issues that need addressing, he or she helps the client replace destructive thoughts and behaviours with more positive ones.
Also, psychotherapy may need to focus on improving clients’ relationships and this may involve helping clients get beyond an event or situation that triggered the disorder in the first place.
Some patients, especially those with bulimia, may benefit from medication, however, the medication should only be used in combination with psychotherapy.
Dialectic Behavioural Disorder (DBT).
Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is a type of talking therapy. It is based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), but it is specially adapted for people who feel emotions very intensely. DBT aims to help you: Understand and accept your difficult feelings. learn skills to manage them.
The difference between Dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is that CBT tries to identify and change negative thinking patterns and pushes for positive behavioural changes, whereas
DBT may be used to treat suicidal and other self-destructive behaviours.
CBT focuses on how your thoughts, feelings and behaviour influence each other. While DBT does work on these things, the emphasis is given more towards regulating emotions, being mindful, and learning to accept pain.
Does treatment work?
Most cases of an eating disorder can be treated successfully however, treatments do not work instantly. For many clients, treatment may need to be long term nevertheless, the sooner treatment commences, the better the outcome.