In modern-day society, being fit is being pushed by family, friends, and mass media. Everyone has an opinion of how people ought to look. For males, they typically look for toned muscles and a six pack. For females, they usually look for a flat stomach and skinny thighs. Media outlets constantly broadcast about how everyone should look, and they use big influencers as faces for their brand. Most media outlets brand certain diets, or they ask the influencers for their secret of keeping their nice body. Most influencers say they just eat a regular diet and exercise daily.
The young generation that look up to these people want to achieve that perfect body, too. But, exercising and a healthy diet does not sound appealing to the young people in this world. So, this idea of a perfect body result to the young generation developing eating disorders that carries on into their adult life. “An eating disorder is a group of psychiatric problems characterized by dissatisfaction about body image and disturbances in eating behaviors” (Taha 2018).
One eating disorder is bulimia nervosa, which is someone that binges their food, then goes long periods of intense weight control behaviors, such as fasting, vomiting, or using medication to get the food out (Taha 2018). But the most well known eating disorder is anorexia nervosa. Anorexia nervosa is a serious psychiatric illness that mostly affect young female and male’s behaviors that leads to changes in their body composition and functioning by starvation (Lock 2015).
“Anorexia nervosa is severe eating disorder characterized by low body weight, intense fear of weight gain, and needless obsession of weight and shape of self-evaluation” that can lead to a lot of mental and physical health problems (Nakamura 2018).
One concerning health factor for those that are anorexic is reduction of bone density mineral in their body. Osteoporosis, also known as porous bones, starts developing because of the low calcium levels in their body which leads to weaker bones and a greater risk of bone fractures. Another serve problem with anorexia is the loss of mensural cycle in females, called amenorrhea, due to a hormonal imbalances in their body while they starve themselves (Harcourt 2018).
Some other physical health problems might include high levels of cardiovascular problems, digestive problems, insomnia, and poor musculoskeletal health (Taha 2018). Mental health plays a big role in anorexic patients. Many anorexic patients suffer from anxiety and depression as well. But, some anorexic patients are pushing it to the extreme saying that being anorexic is a lifestyle choice. Pro-Ana is a movement that considers anorexia a conscious choice rather than mental disorder (Hoffmann 2018).
There are many treatments for those who have anorexia nervosa. Each patient is treated differently because treatments are a case by case bases. A very common treatment for patients is a family based treatment. This treatment has 3 stages. The first stage for the family based treatment is when the parents take control of weight restoration in the child by watching what their child eats and how often they eat (Dimitropoulos 2018).
In the second stage of the treatment, the parents can start giving their child independence of eat what they wish to eat, if there’s any improvement from the first stage (Dimitropoulos 2018). In the third stage, there is a discussion about the child issues and the treatment comes to an end (Dimitropoulos 2018). Those how respond well in the early stages of the treatment tend to have a better recovery than those who didn’t respond well, or had a later response (Dimitropoulos 2018).
Family based treatment would be more effective for younger adolescences because their family is around (Dimitropoulos 2018). Some say that parents are one of the factors of anorexia because of the pressure they put on their kids to look a certain way. Parents have no filter when it comes to their kids. Most of the time, parents don’t realize what they say to their children can affect their children on how they act on certain subject matters. Some patients the try the family based treatments might not have a great outcome because probably their parents was the reason they became anorexic.
There are many treatments out there because not everyone’s treatment is the same. There is no definite cure for anorexia nervosa because it also include other mental illnesses surrounding the anorexia.
Mental illness is not the easiest thing to cure. There’s no one medicine that will stop people from thinking a certain way or feeling some type of way. To treatment mental illnesses, there is a lot of therapy involved. One recommended treatment for patients that are anorexic with anxiety or depression is acupuncture or acupressure therapy. A study showed that those who did acupuncture therapy has a decent recovery outcome. In this study, it was shown that the relationship between the patient and the therapist was important regarding to the patient’s recovery (Fogarty 2013).
There was an emphasis on empathy during the study because of the relationship with the anorexic patient and their therapist (Fogarty 2013). There is a saying that says something about it’s all about your mindset if you want to grow as a person. Those who were more open to recovering yielded a better outcome from the acupuncture treatment (Fogarty 2013). Also in this study, it showed to also help with anxiety and depression because those mental illnesses are also tied to anorexia nervosa.
It is hard watching your friend go through their recovery because you can’t do much to help them, because this a fight that they have to fight for themselves. I have personally witnessed my friend’s recovery from her anorexia nervosa disorder. Back in high school, I had a friend named Ashly. Ashly was usually described as a student athlete.
Some things that I strongly remember was that she was the school’s top cross country runner, she was in band, she was a vegetarian, and one thing that was a strong characteristic is that she snacked all the time. We had a physiology class together. On a particular day, was were discussing about eating disorders. I clearly remembered Ashly sharing to me her thought on anorexic people. “I don’t understand why they would do that to themselves. Like, why?” she shared. I didn’t say anything back to her because I was not sure what to say. But, in my mind I did speculate that she was anorexic, but she was hiding it very well. She made sure the all her friends knew that she loved food, but I felt like she wasn’t getting the nutrition she needed.
We continued our friendship throughout high school. During our senior year, she made a post about being strong than her anorexia on facebook sharing about her struggles with her eating disorder since she started high school. I followed her journey ever since. I remember the time she told me that she had chicken for the first time in years, and she was very proud of herself. I made she to affirm her and her actions and thoughts to make sure she knows that she has the extra support outside of her family. Now, she is back to normal weight and living a very healthy life with her significant other.
Eating disorders are something hard to have. But, now in the present day, there has been a push for body positivity. But the idea of the ideal body will be always there and people will do what it takes to achieve what makes them feel beautiful.
- Dimitropoulos, Gina, et al. “Open Trial of Family-Based Treatment of Anorexia Nervosa for Transition Age Youth.” Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, vol. 27, no. 1, Jan. 2018, pp. 50–61. EBSCOhost, databases.mwsu.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=127212645&site=ehost-live&scope=site.
- Fogarty, Sarah, et al. “Patients with Anorexia Nervosa Receiving Acupuncture or Acupressure; Their View of the Therapeutic Encounter.” Complementary Therapies in Medicine, vol. 21, no. 6, Dec. 2013, pp. 675–681. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2013.08.015.
- Harcourt, Jenifer. “Anorexia and Amenorrhea: What Are the Consequences?” Eating Disorder Hope, 8 Feb. 2018, www.eatingdisorderhope.com/information/anorexia/anorexia-and-amenorrhea-what-are-the-consequences.
- Hoffmann, B. “Pro Ana (1): Eating Disorder or a Lifestyle?” Trakia Journal of Sciences, vol. 16, no. 2, June 2018, pp. 106–113. EBSCOhost, doi:10.15547/tjs.2018.02.006.
- Lock, James, and Daniel Le Grange. Treatment Manual for Anorexia Nervosa: a Family-Based Approach. The Guilford Press, 2015.
- Nakamura, Yukio, et al. “Adequate Nutrition Status Important for Bone Mineral Density Improvement in a Patient with Anorexia Nervosa.” Therapeutics & Clinical Risk Management, vol. 14, May 2018, pp. 945–948. EBSCOhost, doi:10.2147/TCRM.S160280.
- Taha, Azza Ali Abd El-Azeem, et al. “Eating Disorders Among Female Students of Taif University, Saudi Arabia.” Archives of Iranian Medicine (AIM), vol. 21, no. 3, Mar. 2018, pp. 111–117. EBSCOhost, databases.mwsu.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=129299589&site=ehost-live&scope=site.