EATING DISORDERS

EATING DISORDERS

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Weight issues are a major concern in the present times. ‘Am I too fat ?’ , ‘does my body look nice ?’, some questions that run in mind of people more now than ever. Now if these issues are in the normal range then its ok but when it becomes an obsession then it’s a point of concern. Listed below are two of the most common disorders related to weight concerns.

ANOREXIA NERVOSA

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Anorexia nervosa is a disorder characterized by a phobia of gaining weight and a compulsive behaviour to stay thin by starving oneself. The person suffering from anorexia would go to any extent to stay thin. One of the major reasons behind this disorder is a distorted self-image and a pursuit for perfection. No matter how thin the person is, he or she always wants to loose more weight for which they can either eat less, eat and puke, use laxatives or diuretics, do compulsive exercising etc. Anorexics have a preoccupation with food.

Data reveals that 95% of the affected population is female and especially adolescents. The environment and social factors also contribute to this disorder. Most people think that to look beautiful one needs to stay thin.

The treatment involves motivating the patient to maintain healthy eating habits by acknowledging and treating the various family psychological issues that are the underlying causes of this disorder. The patient needs to be comfortable in his body and understand that what really matters is the ‘inner beauty’.

BULIMIA NERVOSA

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Unlike anorexia nervosa which is characterized by self starvation, in Bulimia Nervosa there are recurrent and frequent episodes of binge-eating followed by purging. Binge-eating means eating unusually large amounts of food, when one feels he has no control on his eating. Binge-eating leads to a guilty feeling in the bulimic causing purging behaviour (vomiting, use of diuretics, laxatives, diet pill, abuse etc.), to stop the food from digesting and thereby gaining weight. For diagnosis of bulimia nervosa the binging-purging cycle should occur at-least twice in a week for 3 months.

So while bulimics fear gaining weight like anorexics, but unlike them, bulimics are not underweight. They can fall in the normal or overweight category.

Studies reveal that females are at more risk than the males.

A distorted self-image is a major reason of this disorder, Genetic, social and environmental factors also contribute to this disorder.

Several physiological and psychological problems like menstrual irregularities, weakening of heart, dehydration, fatigue, dizziness, dental problems, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, etc. are the side effects of this disorder.

Cognitive behavioral therapy works best with bulimics. The therapy should focus on normalizing eating behaviour identifying the thoughts, feelings and triggers that are the causes and motivating and training the patient to handle them in a healthy manner.

          Vidhi Pipara Adolescent Psychologist – Guidance on personal or psychological problems in Ahmedabad,Gujarat and India

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