Eating Disorders Essay
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Nicole awakes in her cold, dark room and already wishes it was time to go back to bed. She dreads the thought of going through this day, which will be like so many others in her recent past. She asks herself the question every morning: “Will I be able to make it through the day without being totally obsessed by thoughts of food, or will I blow it again and spend the day bingeing?” She tells herself that today she will begin a new life, today she will start to live like a normal human being. However, she is not at all convinced that the choice is hers.
Nicole is one of the thousands of women who suffer from an eating disorder. These disorders can be compulsive over-eating, bingeing and purging, or starvation. The most commonly recognized eating disorders in today’s society are Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa. “They are characterized as psychological disorders, not just physical abnormalities.”(White 77) A short basic definition of anorexia would describe it as: “A rare disorder characterized by marked weight loss, an intense fear of gaining weight, and disturbance in the experience of body shape.”(Nadelson 21) However, actually suffering through the disease is much more complicated.
Often, anorexia begins with a period of dieting. The anorexic then begins to feel unable or unwilling to stop dieting despite dangerous weight loss. “The results of anorexia nervosa are often terrible to witness.”(Franklin 12) Some of the signs are obvious to everyone ;others can be concealed by the anorexic. The physical consequences of anorexia can be anything from drying of skin to altering physical structures of the brain. If untreated, anorexia nervosa can lead to one final, tragic result: death.(Deitel C5)
Commonly referred to as, “The other eating disorder,” bulimia nervosa is much “newer” than anorexia—-at least in terms of being recognized as a distinct medical disorder. “Bulimia causes individuals to exhibit recurrent episodes of binge eating, engage in inappropriate behavior to avoid weight gain, for example self-induced vomiting, and are overly concerned with their shape and weight.”(Sun-Sentinel 1A) Unlike anorexics, bulimics can keep their weight at or near the normal level for their height and age. Anorexics, because of their distorted ideas concerning, “ideal weight,” cannot. Bulimics lack the discipline of anorexics. They can diet and exercise as anorexic people do, but rather than totally sticking to their program, they periodically go to the opposite extreme, compulsively devouring food.(Hax 93) Then the guilt of their action leads them to purge, or vomit their food, and cleanse their system. Although not as often fatal as anorexia, bulimia has many of the same unpleasant effects on the body and can lead anywhere from physical weakness to heart failure.(Sun-Sentinel 1A)
It is possible for a person to suffer from both anorexia and bulimia. It is estimated that approximately half of all anorexics are also bulimic. Bulimia is common in those who have been battling anorexia for extended periods of time.(White 64) It is scary to think that anyone you know personally may have an eating disorder. ______ of students surveyed at Bishop Eustace said that they have participated in bingeing or purging. _____ percent have starved themselves to change their weight and personal appearance. There can be many reasons for these drastic, self-harming actions.(Epstein 40)
Explanation can be difficult, but in studying these diseases, researchers often look closely at teenagers and preteens and at their family history. Eating disorders can sometimes run in family health. In Bishop Eustace alone, ____ percent of students surveyed said that they had a relative with an eating disorder. This percentage can help support the theory that family life should be studied in cases of eating disorders.
“Lifestyle, upbringing, social environment, and other social factors often are the largest contributors to why eating disorders are developed among today’s women.”(Matthews 63) Many young women today blame peer pressure, comments from coaches, boyfriends, and even parents about weight, and most often, the idea set by media and the movies that, “Thin is in.” Stress from various situations common while growing up can also be a large contributor to eating disorders in women today.(Epstein 11)
At Bishop Eustace, the surveyed teenagers stated that _____ of them question their own appearance ;they wish they could change something about themselves. For many of them, it is their weight. This is something that is implanted in their minds over and over by the media, Hollywood and others they know personally. _____ of Eustace students said that they were influenced by others to lose weight.
The eating disorders themselves can be treated with counseling and possibly hospitalization. The problem that surrounds this fact is that many eating disorders are not recognized until the disease is already severe.(Deitel C5) Most girls who suffer from eating disorders are so secretive about their problem that no one recognizes that they are sick until it is too late. _____ of Eustace students surveyed said that they would not tell anyone if they had an eating disorder. This is dangerous because if girls feel that they cannot get help then they will get even sicker and could die. Communication is a critical issue in these secretive diseases.(Franklin 12)
Mastering these disorders does not occur easily or quickly. The disease must be recognized first before it can be treated. This can be the most difficult part of the recovery process.(Hax 94) However, after the disease is affirmed, doctors can correct the physical and mental problems that can result in death if untreated. It is important to understand the causes, effects, and treatments of eating disorders so they can be dealt with in society today.
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