The Psychology of Eating Disorders

The cases of eating disorders are reported in unprecedented numbers in the contemporary society. An estimated population of 20-24 million Americans are victims of eating disorders. The observed consequences of eating disorders range from possible premature death and other health risks. The condition is almost evenly spread across various age groups and gender. While most people suffering from eating disorders are deemed as deliberately pursuing thinness, the fact is that several other factors cause the condition (Stice, 2002). Psychological conditions of an individual are top on the list of factors that can initiate onset of a full-blown eating disorder. Specific personality traits are equally important causes of eating disorders. Psychological aspects that include but not limited to stressful events, post-traumatic stress disorder, family problems, physical and mental abuse.

The most common eating disorders are Bulimia, Anorexia, and Binge eating.

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that distorts the image of the victim. In most cases, the individual has a perception of having overweight while they are thin in reality. The psychological influence and symptoms of this condition constitutes refusal to eat or eating very little amounts of food. The patient may also engage in excessive exercise or avoiding eating with other people in an attempt to reduce imaginary overweight (Stice, 2002). Another eating disorder is Binge eating which is a condition that develops from uncontrolled consumption of food in regular basis. The excessive intake of food accumulates calories that translate to overweight. Bulimia nervosa is another prevalent eating disorder. An individual exhibiting Bulimia takes up excessive food and then make efforts to get rid of the food to create more space and shed calories. The victims always resort to vomiting, physical exercise, or applying diuretics.

Most of the eating disorders are functions of psychological conditions. Despite medical conditions that may influence certain eating habits, the psychological circumstances that surround the individuals takes greater charge. The emerging lifestyle among various age groups in this modern era has equally been blamed on the aforementioned conditions. Female gender is at a higher risk of eating disorder in their bid to shed perceived excessive weight and fit into the socially constructed body shape (Stice & Shaw, 2004). Media has equally eroded the psychology of people with such lifestyle habits as required body weight and acceptable calorie measures.

Among the three eating disorders, binge eating is more pronounced among men that take in more food in a bid to compensate for strenuous physical activity. In fact, the perceived need for extra calories to sustain participation in athletics is a major cause of the observation. On the other hand, the peer pressure and the urge to conform to the modern culture of controlled weight have compelled the ladies to fall victims of anorexia nervosa (Stice, 2002). To make it worse, women are at greater risk of developing eating disorders while their male counterparts are less adherent to proposed interventionary measures. It has therefore become a challenging issue when it comes to proper management of eating disorder. The onset of an eating disorder is likely to create a cycle of risky behavior that eventually complicates the situation and frustrates treatment efforts.

Although eating disorders have an array of causes, intervention measures are possible and all that is important is the commitment of the patient and support of the family members.

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