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Eating Disorders: Information and Cessation

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Eating Disorders: Information and Cessation

Nearly every day the media buzzes about some celebrity that looks ghastly thin due to supposed eating disorders. They are portrayed harshly and in terms that imply that they could die from starvation at any moment. This may seem overdramatic and inflated by the media, but eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that can kill. At the start of the school year in 2007, a senior named Rebecca began losing weight. At first it was nothing alarming; however, after one month things took a turn for the worse. She would never admit it, but she had developed an eating disorder. Furthermore, in a period of six months this 5'11" beauty went from her weight at 155 pounds down to 95 pounds. Her illness was so drastic that she nearly lost her life from this defective transformation and, as a consequence, complications with her body still remain. Unfortunately, her story is nowhere near uncommon. In fact, it is estimated that nearly one third of Americans will develop an eating disorder sometime in their lives and thousands of deaths will occur as a result every year (Cumella 12). One question that has yet to be answered is why people in society do not try to put a death to eating disorders instead of the other way around. With the increasing prevalence of eating disorders, more people should be educated on eating disorders and possible treatment options in addition to their causes and their rarely thought of views.

A common question deals with what, in particular, eating disorders are. They are forms of mental illnesses that occur all over the world but are evident especially in people near high school and college age and are even more common in the Western hemisphere (Buis 357). Three main types of eating disorders exist, the first being the infamous anorexia. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fourth edition, DSM IV, defines an anorexia nervosa sufferer as a person who has delusional thoughts about body image. Anorexics purposefully neglect to sustain their body weight and are aided in this by dieting excessively. Another eating disorder is bulimia nervosa. The indications of this illness include indulging in an abnormal abundance of food followed by purging which can comprise behaviors such as "self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives or diuretics, restrained eating, or excess exercise" (Talleyrand 319). Lastly, the most common eating disorder is Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS).

EDNOS is generally a combination or variance of Anorexia and Bulimia such as having all the signs of anorexia but continuing to have a normal weight, just purging, or chewing food but never swallowing it. Binge-eating disorder is also considered to be an EDNOS but is extremely prevalent in America ("Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified"). According to DSM IV, "binge-eating disorder is described by recurrent episodes of binge eating that occur in the absence of regular use of compensatory behavior such as purging"(Talleyrand 319). This means that people with this disorder consume abnormally large quantities of food in one sitting. The issue with all three of these mental illnesses is that they have disastrous side effects such as physiology, depression caused by fluctuating emotions, and a complete lack of motivation (Cumella 12-13). To put this all into perspective, one in every thirty-one Americans report symptoms of an eating disorder at any given time. Anorexia and its related causes lead to death in one out of every five people diagnosed with this disease. Anorexia also has an extremely high suicide rate compared to other psychiatric conditions, and lastly, "only half of those with anorexia and bulimia recover fully" (Novotney). All of these statistics are alarming and illustrate how severe of a problem eating disorders are becoming. Now that a basic understanding of eating disorders has been discovered, it is imperative to discuss how to effectively treat this issue.

Many forms of treatment are in practice and are available to those diagnosed with eating disorders. Two types that are regularly debated about are inpatient and outpatient treatment. Inpatient treatment occurs when more severe and extreme measures need to be taken in order to correct the illness in dire circumstances. This process requires the patient to live at a facility that can accommodate his or her needs and has care available twenty-four hours a day. Usually, people who enter an institution such as this need to remain in inpatient treatment for multiple months. In this step, physical and psychiatric improvement is at the forefront of priorities. In outpatient treatment, however, this is not quite the case. Usually when enrolled in outpatient treatment, most people's family, work, or school take precedence. This form of treatment can vary drastically depending on what the patient needs but involves cognitive-behavioral therapy. Outpatient care can be done in groups, with family members, or individually, and is normally suggested to meet a couple of times a week for multiple hours ("Inpatient or Outpatient Treatment: Which Should You Attend?"). Even though these two treatments can be the topic of heated debates, the most extreme eating disorder victims have a high recovery rate by first, undergoing inpatient treatment and then, once released, participating in outpatient treatment. It has also been shown that patients and therapists generally agree that, regardless of inpatient or outpatient treatment, a strong alliance between the two should be built and treatments should be tailored to the specific person in order to achieve success (Donker 313). This brings about the question dealing with how exactly treatments should differ.

The chief difficulty that arises when treating a patient with this type of mental illness is that no clear-cut method based on personality type or eating disorder is in existence today. One study that compares the treatment of today with that of forty years ago reports that only adolescents seem to have hope in family-based treatment, while no treatment for adults has yet been proven to work (Agras "Forty Years of Progress in the Treatment of Eating Disorders" 21). On the other hand, other experts suggest that psychotherapy, whether it is cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, family therapy, or group therapy, has shown dramatic improvements in patients with anorexia (Grohol). In regards to bulimia, experts agree more on effective treatments; however, the options have a wide parameter. It is believed that cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy as well as medications, such as Fluoxetine, help patients recover from bulimia. Concerning EDNOS treatment cannot be generalized the slightest amount since it encompasses such a broad range of



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