Feeding and Eating Disorders Essay

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Over fifty percent of teenage girls, and around thirty-three percent of teenage boys find themselves turning to unhealthy alternatives to achieve a desirable figure (Rathus, 2016). Feeding and eating disorders are recurring in any society, and they tend to affect any and every age group. There are many types of Feeding and Eating Disorders displayed within DSM-5. Each of these disorders has its own unique set of characteristics which are used to diagnose a patient and develop a treatment plan. The prevalence of these disorders makes it essential to be discussed and well known. Feeding and Eating Disorders are often characterized by “persistent, gross disturbances in eating patterns,” (Rathus, 2016). Some of these disorders within the DSM-5 include anorexia nervosa, pica, and bulimia nervosa.

One of the most commonly heard of Feeding and Eating disorders is anorexia nervosa. Anorexia nervosa is life threatening, and is often defined as an individual who develops a fear of being overweight. Although it is one of the most common, most people do not know that fifty to eighty percent of the risk to be diagnosed with anorexia nervosa comes from genetics (ANAD, 2018). The person pursues to dissolve this fear by facing dramatic weight loss and a twisted body image. The individual tends to have a limited nutrient diet which leads to many visible symptoms. Some of these include brittle hair and skin, infertility, loss of muscle, increased risk of heart dysfunctions, anemia, and possible organ failure (American Addiction Centers, 2018).

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The DSM-5 criteria is as follows: very limited intake of energy in comparison to requirements that are recommended by weight, sex, and physical health, a severe and persistent fear of being fat or gaining weight even when the patient has a significantly low body weight, and the change in the way a shape or weight is seen or the lack of awareness of how majorly important the significantly low body weight is. The DSM-5 also explains that anorexia nervosa is most common during adolescence and young adulthood, and rarely ever occurs before puberty and after an individual turns forty. The disorder often follows a stressful life event and can become so severe hospitalization is required (DSM-5, 2013). Treatment often includes reintroducing proper nutrition, individual/family counseling, and use tools and mechanisms that can be used to help cope with the temptations that may lead to relapse (Bulik & Watson, 2012).

Among many Feeding and Eating disorders, one that many people find fascinating is pica. Pica is the continuous eating of nonfood substances that can provide no nutrition to the body (NEDA, 2018). This disorder tends to have noticeable side effects such as anemia and malnutrition, but late symptoms of the disorder may include severe medical issues such as mechanical bowel syndrome or intestinal obstruction (NEDA, 2018). Although there are many things that could possibly lead to this disorder, some factors have been pinpointed. Adults with pica tend to have intellectual disabilities or mental disorders (DSM-5, 2013). Some people with this disorder report of neglect during their life which raises the likelihood of developing this disorder. This disorder is also prevalent in institutionalized individuals, a shocking four to twenty six percent (Walke and Michael, 2001).

Pica can be devastating when prolonged for an excess period of time. Ingesting certain materials can be fatal to the patient, and it is not uncommon to develop physical impairments while dealing with the disorder. The DSM-5 criteria for pica is continuous eating of nonfood substances for at least one month, the eating is inappropriate in correlation to the level of development of the patient, the eating behavior of the individual is not normal in their society or in their culture, and if the disorder is diagnosed with other mental disorders or medical conditions, it is necessary to reach out for clinical attention. A diagnosis can only be made after the situation has recurred for over one month.

The first step to recovery for a person with pica is that they must be tested for mineral levels. If these levels are abnormal, they will need to be corrected through medication or nutritious foods. Some unique treatment options, if balancing nutrient levels fails, are to redirect the attention of the patient or even rewarding them for staying away from the substances (NEDA, 2018).

Another type of Eating and Feeding disorder that is well known in today’s society is bulimia nervosa. Bulimia nervosa is a dangerous disorder that varies in levels of severity. It is often described as a serious and sometimes life threatening recurring cycle of binge eating and then afterward purging (Rathus, 2016). Bulimia nervosa is typically diagnosed when episodes of binge eating and unhealthy behaviors to remove the food from the body occur more than once a week (DSM-5, 2013). Many visible symptoms occur with this disorder. Some mentioned in an article by the National Eating Disorder Association are fluctuating weights, sleeping issues, yellow skin, teeth discoloration/cavities, and cuts along knuckles from self-induced vomiting. The DSM-5 criteria for bulimia nervosa is as follows: recurring episodes of eating excessive amounts of food without control, recurring inappropriate behaviors concerning compensatory matters to prevent potential weight gain (vomiting or using laxatives), behavior occurs for at least once a week and persisting for three months, looking at self only in regards of weight and shape, and the condition does not occur during anorexia nervosa. Bulimia can be induced by many factors. Weight concern from a young age, societies impressions of a thin body ideal, childhood obesity, transmission through genetics, and other underlying psychological disorders (DSM-5, 2013).

Bulimia nervosa can come in many different forms and severities. The DSM-5 separates these severities into 4 levels: mild, moderate, severe, and extreme. Mild consists of one to three episodes of purging or self induced compensatory acts. Moderate is characterized by four to seven a week. Severe is known to have eight to thirteen episodes in one week. The final level is extreme. The extreme level of bulimia nervosa is noticed for episodes occurring over fourteen times in one week. All levels of bulimia nervosa increase risk of suicidal thoughts and attempts. Not only does the suicide risk elevate, the death rate, all-cause, also elevates due to the medical complications that trail along with the disorder (DSM-5, 2013). Some treatment options provided and discussed in an article on bulimia nervosa by Harvard University include counseling nutrition, CBT, therapy, self help, and the medication SSRI. This article explains the process of CBT which includes identifying and changing the person’s thoughts. The medication mentioned is the only FDA-approved medication that is available to the public for eating disorders (Harvard Health Publishing, 2009).

Feeding and eating disorders are defined in the DSM-5 as a “persistent disturbance of eating or eating-related behavior that results in altered consumption or absorptions of food and that significantly impairs physical health or psychosocial functioning”. These disorders can sometimes be overlooked by society, and called a “cry for attention” or a “fake disorder”. The truth of this disorder is that over thirty million people’s lives in the United States are impacted daily by these disorders, and every sixty two minutes, at the minium, one person dies as a result of a feeding or eating disorder (ANAD, 2018). Although feeding and eating disorders come in many different forms and severities, every one of them has a possible cure when brought to attention in front of the right people. People with these disorders need the support of society to come forward and face their disorder head on, and this all starts with awareness of how the disorders come about and overall how they can affect one’s life.

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