Less is more: inside anorexia and bulimia

by Nadine Cavanaugh, staff reporter

It’s normal for someone to have insecurities they don’t like about themselves; and it’s normal to try to fix them. Though the line between doing what’s healthy and what’s not isn’t always clear, it is sometimes overstepped.
Anorexia nervosa, according to helpguide.org, is when one refuses to maintain a healthy body weight. The two types of anorexia include restricting, which consists of over dieting and fasting, and purging, which is the opposite and consists of weight loss from vomiting and overuse of laxatives and diuretics.
Bulimia nervosa is a similar eating disorder which consists of over eating, then later experiencing guilt and trying to desperately dispose of the calories just consumed by vomiting, use of laxatives and trying to work the weight off. Bulimia, however, is more difficult to spot, as people affected by bulimia are usually not underweight and have an easier time hiding their true feelings.

According to Dr. Brent Jansen of Long Island Jewish (LIJ), the prevalence of Anorexia Nervosa in the U.S. is 1%.
“There is a cluster of people who develop the disease at age 14 and a second cluster that develops the disease later at around 18 years. It is more frequently observed in the adolescent age group, but anorexia has no age restrictions and can affect young children and older persons alike,” Jansen said.
Both eating disorders are used in an attempt to gain a sense of control, though neither one is entirely about food itself. The real “cause” of eating disorders are usually depression, insecurity and loneliness. Writer for Medical New Today, Christian Nordqvist, feels these are categorized as psychological disorders.
“I think someone suffering from this [disorder] will probably unloved and unwanted, because they don’t feel like they are good enough for anyone or anything,” sophomore Adva Fuchs said.
It is very important to seek medical attention when one has either of these eating disorders, as the damage can become severe.
“When asked how to handle a student asking for help on the situation, first, ask why you think that. Because to think that would lead to some kind of admission. Then I would offer how to get help, and suggest family help,” Department of Education school nurse said.
Malnutrition, mood swings, and depression are just some of the effects of these eating disorders.
“For treatment of anorexia the goal is to correct and prevent the complications of this disorder and restore normal eating patterns,” Dr. Jansen said. “Usually in the hospital we will monitor a patient’s total caloric intake and measure their weight gain over the course of several days or weeks. Some hospitals have group programs where a number of patients participate in therapy which aims to increase their level of knowledge about the disease….The treatment for bulimia is similar to anorexia and is best managed using an interdisciplinary approach including the primary care provider, a psychiatrist, a psychotherapist, and a nutritionist/dietitian. The goals of treatment are to reduce and, where possible, eliminate binge eating and purging, to treat physical complications and restore nutritional health.”


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