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For someone with an eating disorder

Updated: Thursday, Jun 03,2010, 11:04:26 AM
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For someone with an eating disorder, food can become a deadly obsession. In fact, eating disorders have one of the highest mortality rates of all mental disorders. Although there are several kinds of eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating, people with such disorders tend to share some of the same personality traits. that these include:

    * low self-esteem
    * feelings of helplessness
    * fear of becoming fat

These feelings create anxiety. Eating and/or dieting can become the way to cope with this anxiety, as well as other daily stresses. Eating disorders can also be triggered by comments about a person's weight, for example, a coach who remarks about an athlete's weight. The American College of Sports Medicine says that while eating disorders are more common in women, they can also occur in men.

Anorexia or anorexia nervosa is self-imposed starvation, with an obsessive desire to be thin. This desire is often accompanied by a highly distorted body image. In other words, dieting and exercising continue even as the anorexic's weight drops well below the norm. anorexics frequently think they are fat despite all evidence to the contrary. Warning signs include:

    * dramatic weight loss
    * efforts to hide the weight loss from friends or family
    * preoccupation with food in spite of the anorexic's refusal to eat
    * excessive exercise to burn calories
    * irregular or stopped menstrual periods
    * mood swings

no one knows why anorexia develops. Often, according to AAFP, anorexics are high achievers. If they're in school, they're often good students, involved in multiple school activities. They tend to be perfectionists.

Although excessive thinness is the most outstanding characteristic of anorexia, AAFP says the disorder is about more than food or weight; it's about control. The anorexic is using food and weight as a way of coping with emotional issues and gaining a sense of control in at least one aspect of their lives. Treatment therefore needs to address both the physical and psychological needs of the person, and may require a team of medical, nutritional and mental health professionals. Depending on the duration of the disorder and the amount of weight lost, hospitalization may be required as well.

Tags: Eating disorder

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