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The Big Problem With Being Too Thin

Although many people do not always think of eating disorders as serious, life threatening diseases, they have the ability to ruin an individual’s health and future as any other disease. In fact, among the categories of mental disorders, eating disorders are the most common. Even though each disorder is distinct, in terms of symptoms and behaviors, there are also some similarities that exist between the two most common disorders, which are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

Both bulimia nervosa, the practice of binging and purging, and anorexia nervosa, the practice of starvation to be thin, are serious eating disorders causing many physical and mental problems in females and males. The disorders have the same underlying cause; low self-esteem. Having low self-esteem, especially in young women, can be hard to deal with. Comparing how our bodies look to other girls or friends their age can be treating to the mind. Men often compare themselves to how much muscle they have not how over all “thin” they are.

The disorders are psychological problems that can affect anyone. They both focus on eating as a way to control something in their life that they feel they have lost. The mind of a person suffering with both of these eating disorders tells them that being thin is the only way to be happy and improve their lives. I have been around the eating disorder world for a while. People suffering with the disorder name it ED so they can talk to it. They tell ED things as if there mind is another person, the eating disorder then becomes a part of this person’s life. Many times, the larger underlying issues that are troubling them are the cause of their unhappiness but since food is something that can be easily controlled, it becomes their weapon, their safety guard against anything that makes them unhappy.

But there are many factors, such as depression and abuse that can contribute to causes of both disorders. Those who suffer, despite their different behaviors towards food, have symptoms that all relate to the eating disorder title. Both disorders result in malnourishment, dry skin, brittle hair and nails, constipation, and sensitivity to temperature change. There are no certain race, gender, sexual or religious background in which the disorders are most predominant. I have known a variety of people who have suffered and not one of them were the same except the fact that they were struggling with an eating disorder.

Both disorders can cause major health issues that can cause irreparable damage. For women who suffer from anorexia, their menstrual cycle may stop, causing problems related to getting pregnant later in life. In both disorders they have common medical issues like malnutrition, constipation, and electrolyte imbalance. Many of these issues can lead to more serious problems like stroke, heart attack, and death. Even though many people will suffer negative side effects daily such as those listed above, they refuse to seek help or change their way of life.

Another factor that both eating disorders have in common is the stigma, or negative image, that is given to people suffering from the disorder. While it’s very common, many sufferers are not well educated about treatment that can help them. The media shows beauty as being thin and fit, men and women, especially in the adolescent years, believe this is the only way to reach that goal and do not know of social outlets or groups that can help them realize the danger of this behavior. It’s hard in today’s world to be happy with how we look when the media is telling us to look a certain way causing the outrage on eating disorders.

The result of anorexia and bulimia on a person’s health is very similar, but what differs is the measures taken to reach their desired goal weight or look. Anorexics tend to avoid food on purpose to obtain the “Perfect Body” look. Anorexics can be “blind,” meaning when they look in the mirror they can only see everything that is wrong or not “perfect.” They cannot see that they are unhealthy and possibly skeletal. By not eating, the anorexic person is starving their feelings as well as their body. One who suffers will tend to “Hide” from people by avoiding going out with friends and family because they rather stay home to avoid any food temptations.

By contrast, a bulimic will consume large quantities of food to numb feelings. Bulimic symptoms relate to vomiting, or forcing oneself to purge their food. Symptoms are swollen fingers, cuts and calluses on the back of hangs and knuckles, discoloring of teeth due to acid from the stomach eating away the enamel, and burns in their esophagus that can cause salivary glands to swell up. They purge by not only vomiting but by excessive exercise or the use of laxatives daily such as Dualax or an All Women’s Laxative. Many people with this disorder, after eating, will sneak away to a bathroom after the meal to purge. They may appear to have a normal body weight or even appear slightly overweight, making it hard for people to actually tell if they have a problem with bulimia.

Although bulimics and anorexics have a different styles of “being thing,” starvation or binging and purging, both attempt to solve their problems by controlling their food intake. Having battled with anorexia for 3 years I know the major effects it can have on families and friends as well as the effects it had on me. The process of healing is long and hard, that goes for both is disorders. Watching TV commercials kills me every time seeing how the media expects us to be. I have learned that the “perfect body” look does not exist. But that doesn’t mean that everyone else knows that. Knowing the differences between the disorders is important in knowing how to help the person fix their life.

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