Anorexia, clinically known as Anorexia Nervosa, is a disorder that affects eating and nutrition. It is a chronic disorder characterized by an increased obsession in weight and weight loss, setting one’s self a standard as to what weight is deemed appropriate. Food restriction is their way of keeping off the fat and calories. This obsession in trying to maintain a weight in goal, often leads to emaciation and malnutrition. People with anorexia have strange ideas of body image and set themselves benchmarks as to what they perceive is best appearance for them. Patients suffering from the disorder have the pervasive distress of gaining weight and becoming fat, and starvation is their way of conquering this fear. It is obstinate in nature and leads to malnutrition and other medical conditions.
Bulimia is another eating disorder that is of primary concern to health. It is a condition more common than anorexia and cannot be easily detected by just a glance at the patient who is suffering from the disease. Unlike anorexics, people suffering from bulimia are often almost normal in terms of weight. They do not starve themselves to death, but employ different mechanisms to maintain the body weight they desire.
Bulimics often binge- eat. They eat large amount of food which under normal standards, is excessive, for a certain period of time. The insatiable craving for food often results in guilt, followed by the need to atone. They purge or exercise excessively to keep from packing the weight.
Bulimia Nervosa has been further classified in two. The purging type, and the non- purging type. The purging type Bulimia Nervosa is the kind of bulimia wherein sufferers binge- eat and tries to get rid of the weight they may gain by induced vomiting. Some even resort to taking laxatives, diuretics, and emetics, just so they feel better about themselves. The non- purging type Bulimia Nervosa is the form of bulimia wherein to keep off the weight, patients fast or exercise excessively after period of splurge eating.
Signs and symptoms of Anorexia start to manifest during the early twenties. Females are more susceptible to develop this disorder for they tend to be more concerned with appearance. To be considered anorexic, the patient is 15% or more below the required ideal weight. BMI of less than 17.5 has been typical to patients with Anorexia Nervosa. Factors, such as the environment and psychological perception tend to be the culprits for this fast- becoming-common, yet dreaded mental disease.
It has been suggested that cases of Anorexia Nervosa was predominantly recorded in highly- developed regions. Those who tend to have more economically are likely to be the ones affected. Since genetics has also been pointed as a possible factor of the disorder, it can be safely concluded that this eating disorder can occur almost anywhere and to almost anyone. The idea of beauty as envisioned by media, seem to affect the sufferer the most. The constant need to be thin to keep up with what they see and encounter often leads to patients resorting to radical means to be with the trend. Psychology also plays a big role in the development of this mental disorder. The persistent need to establish autonomy and identity has been linked to this disorder.
In contrast to anorexia, bulimia starts to develop early. Symptoms begin to manifest at the beginning of adolescence. Females, like anorexia, are more susceptible to develop this disorder. Athletes are prone to acquire this condition for they have to adhere to a standard as to weight and diet.
Both eating disorders are to be considered major health problems. Complications arise due to the unhealthy eating habits developed by patients suffering from both disorders. Anorexia may lead to malnutrition. Those suffering from this disorder often are prone to infection and sickness due to nutritional deficiency. They exhibit an obsession on trying to ward of the calories and fat by eating little, or nor eating at all. Depression can be a sequel to anorexia once not properly given attention and treatment. Bulimics on the other hand are prone to esophageal, gastrointestinal, and urinary problems. Recurrent induced vomiting damages the esophagus and can be a cause of infection. Aspiration pneumonia could happen once vomiting is induced. Dental problems are also common in bulimia for gastric acids vomited ruin the teeth.
Emptying gastric contents can lead to fluid loss, which is very harmful. Fluid loss results in electrolyte imbalance. With the fluctuating amount of electrolytes in the body, cardiac conditions and temporary paralysis can occur. Excessive urination due to ingestion of diuretics makes one prone to infection of the bladder and urinary tract. Physical changes that are relative to anorexia include hair loss, dry skin, bone changes and osteoporosis, hypothermia, decreased blood pressure, and anemia are among the most common. Hormonal changes such as abnormalities in menstruation are common in anorexia, while in bulimia, the rate is fairly low. For treatment intervention, cognitive therapy and use of antidepressants seem to be the choice for bulimia. Patients with anorexia are more responsive to psychotherapy without the psychotropics. Aside from psychiatric counseling, getting the anorexic patient to eat, and eat right is the primary treatment goal for this type of disorder.
Since bulimics tend to be on the normal weight range, prognosis for recovery is cited to be much better in bulimia than in anorexia. Getting the bulimics to stop with the purging yields more positive outcome than getting the anorexic to stop starving and getting them to eat. Those with bulimia are more into maintaining or reducing weight for body image that is directed towards pleasing others. In anorexia, the patient tends to conceptualize the low weight as means to cope with personal struggles with control and insecurity.
Both disorders signify psychological issues that may have been present since younger years, which may have not been resolved. Those suffering from these disorders have ideas of weight and mechanism of dealing with weight that is far off from the conventional way of thinking. These disorders often are accompanied by other issues such as anxiety, coping problems, psychosocial issues, relationship issues, and depression. Low self- worth can be a reason why people develop these eating disorders.
Detection of these disorder is essential in initiating treatment, for these disorders, taken for granted have been proven fatal. Getting the help needed is essential to healing. Family and friends of sufferers of these eating disorders should be able to recognize warning signs and give the patients the much needed support and medical attention they badly need.
Proper orientation of how these disorders can affect health and endanger lives help in combatting the situation. A strong support system aids in fast recovery. Acceptance of one’s self and value is key to getting better. Recognizing that what is being shown by media is not entirely true leads to a proper mindset that beauty in itself is in the eye of the beholder. It has no criteria, it has no boundaries, it is just individual and unique.