Eating Disorders

Essay by ranma237College, UndergraduateA+, September 2006

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As mentioned by Patricia Barry in her book "Mental health and Mental illness," an eating disorder is defined as " a chronic disruption in one's ability to ingest food and derive nutrition from that food because of one or more emotional issues that lasts for 3 or more months." (Barry 324). Just as an alcoholic uses alcohol to cope, a person with an eating disorder can use eating, purging or restricting to deal with their problems. In the psychiatric setting, eating disorders are divided into three categories: Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge eating disorder. These eating disorders are all identified and classified by DSM- IV or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition. It is important to mention that obesity is not classified as a mental disorder in the DSM-IV but it is rather a factor considered in binge eating disorder.

Anorexia nervosa is a mental disorder that " results in an avoidance of eating because of a cluster of specific emotional issues."

(Barry 324). The onset typically occurs during adolescence and it mostly affect young women. Anorexia is characterized by extreme and irrational fear of becoming fat, significant weight loss of 15% or more of the normal weight, distorted body image and amenorrhea or absence of at least three consecutive menstrual cycles. ((Eysenck 695). Excessive weight loss is accomplished by restricting food intake of less than 1,000 calories per day, excessive exercise, diet pills or even self-induced Bulimia nervosa, on the other hand, is an "episodic, uncontrolled, compulsive, rapid ingestion of large quantities of food over a short period of time (binging), followed by inappropriate compensatory behaviors to rid the body of the excess calories (purging)." (Townsend 593). Such purging behaviors include self-induced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics. These binging and purging episodes...