General Information on Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are psychiatric illnesses that affect over five million American women and men. This figure may not seem terribly high until we realize that thousands of these people will die from the physical problems caused by these conditions. Eating disorders are not just the extremes of anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. Dangerous fad diets are also widespread in this country. In a society where thinness is equated with success and happiness, nearly every American woman, man and child has suffered at one time or another from issues of weight, body shape and self-image. Eating disorders can cause serious physical problems, including heart disease, osteoporosis, gastrointestinal problems and even death. They can also lead to feelings of isolation, depression and anxiety. Most students are familiar with this story, and hundreds of essays have been written on the subject. Perhaps you are one of those who is thinking of raising this issue in your work. Using write my paper service will allow you to implement all of your ideas as a professional writer quickly. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, it is important to seek professional help. With treatment, eating disorders are highly treatable illnesses

Eating disorders are harmful not just to the sufferer, but also to the people closest to them. Families are disrupted, schooling is interrupted, and careers and relationships are often destroyed. People with eating disorders often feel shame and isolation, which can lead to depression. Without treatment, the future for these men and women is bleak. But with psychological counseling and medical evaluations, people can recover. They can develop appropriate inner resources and look forward to living normal, productive and happy lives. This problem does not often arise in society, but there are people who do care. Most of them are students who often use the college essay writing service to free up their schedule and devote their time to volunteering and helping. With nutritional counseling and medication, sufferers can finally overcome their eating disorders and live the life they were meant to live.

Information For Those Who Suffer From Eating Disorders

Recovery is possible and there is help out there. AABA can refer you to therapists, support groups and other resources in your area when you call our national office in New York City at (212)575-6200. This service is free, confidential and available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Eastern Time Zone. You may also request referrals via e-mail. Please include your state, zip code and the name of the closest major city to you. Be advised that we receive a high volume of e-mail and requests are processed in the order in which they are received.

Our philosophy is that eating disorders are psychological problems that require therapeutic intervention. One of our organization's main functions is to provide a nationwide referral service consisting of support groups, treatment centers and therapists specializing in the field of eating disorders. AABA does not subscribe to any one particular type of treatment. Therefore, referrals from our organization are not recommendations. We believe that it is the individual's responsibility to properly screen all referrals in order to find the facility/therapist that most appropriately fits her/his personal needs.

These questions are organized around three themes. You may want to ask all or only some of them, or design questions of your own. There are many different approaches to the treatment of eating disorders. There is no single philosophy that works for everyone. Sometimes patients must try several types of treatment before finding one that is helpful. If you are looking for a therapist you should first decide which treatment approach makes the most sense to you. Finding a therapist or group that is good for you can be a matter of personal chemistry. A feeling of trust must exist in any therapeutic relationship if it is to be beneficial. Don't be afraid to interview more than one therapist and try to visit more than one group. In the final analysis, TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS!

Information for Families and Friends

Understanding Eating Disorders Eating disorders are extremely complex psychological problems that are very closely associated with depression and low self-esteem. For a person with anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder, the disorder serves a purpose in her/his life. Often, disordered eating is used as a means to mask other underlying issues, or to cope with personal problems that may be unrelated to their concerns about food and weight (i.e. trouble at school or work, relationship or family problems). For someone who feels very out of control, an eating disorder may seem like a viable means of gaining back some power or agency. In a culture that is obsessed with weight loss and idealizes thinness, it is not hard to imagine how certain psychologically vulnerable people may feel that losing weight is the answer to all of their problems. Unfortunately, the eating disorder will inevitably take over that person's life, dictating every minute detail of her/his day.

What To Do If you have reason to believe that a friend or family member is suffering with an eating disorder, it is important that you confront her/him and express your concern. Your ultimate goal should be to get that person to seek professional help. Because eating disorders are psychological problems with very real and damaging physical consequences, it is important that the sufferer receives the proper treatment, which includes both medical and psychological care. There are many qualified professionals who have experience working with these kinds of problems, and it is important that you find clinicians who have a knowledge of eating disorders. Not all doctors and therapists know enough about eating disorders to treat them effectively.

When you address the problem initially, you need to prepare yourself for all possible reactions. The person you are confronting may become upset, defensive, and/or angry. There is also a chance that s/he will be relieved that someone has offered to help. Either way, you need to stress the fact that you are bringing the issue up because you care about the person, and that you are genuinely concerned about her/his well-being. Be sensitive to the fact that s/he will probably be embarrassed or ashamed. People with eating disorders tend to isolate themselves and they become very good at hiding and denying their problems. Therefore, it is especially traumatic for them when someone openly acknowledges their "secret." Be firm but caring in your approach. Arm yourself with examples of things you have observed which have led you to believe that there is a problem. The more "evidence" you have, the harder it will be for that person to brush off the issue. For example, it is okay to say something like "I'm concerned because you seem to be preoccupied with your weight and I never see you eat anything," or "You always go to the bathroom right after meals and sometimes I can smell vomit in there."

Let her/him know that you want to help in whatever way that you can. Things that may seem very simple to you (i.e. finding referrals, making appointments, going to a doctor's office, etc.) are incredibly intimidating to a person with an eating disorder, so this is an area where friends and family members can make a big difference. Offer to do some of the groundwork for the person. Your assistance and support in the early stages of the treatment process will alleviate some of the stress and anxiety that your loved one will be experiencing.

Information for Professionals Who Treat Clients with Eating Disorders

AABA receives over 25,000 requests for support per year by mail, e-mail and phone. AABA's Referral List consists of professionals and organizations nationwide that specialize in eating disorders including psychiatrists, therapists, in-patient programs, day programs, residential programs, medical doctors and nutritionists. Professional members are eligible to apply to be placed on this referral network by requesting the Referral List Application. The minimum requirements for this application are as follows:

1. Minimum of a master's degree in the mental health field or an M.D. with a residency in psychiatry.
2. Knowledge of eating disorders via coursework, seminars and conferences.
3. Minimum of three years' experience in the field as a supervised therapist.
4. Related work experience.
5. Accreditation by state and/or national organization of specific discipline.
6. Optional: Post-graduate training in psychotherapy.

** Other clinicians in the field (dieticians, nutritionists, medical doctors, internists, dentists, etc.) should contact the AABA office at (212) 575 - 6200 for special application procedures.

For information on becoming a professional member of the AABA and to receive the Referral List Application, please contact us via phone or e-mail.

Risk Factors in the Development of Eating Disorders

By Natalia Zunino, Ph.D.

At this time no single cause of eating disorders has been discovered. But a number of factors, especially when they occur together, can put an individual at risk for developing an eating disorder.

The most common behavior that can lead to anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder is dieting. Barraged by the increasing number and advertising of diet products, everyone is made aware of the opportunities to diet. Of course, not every person who diets end up with an eating disorder – not even the majority of people who diet to lose weight. However, dieting behavior, with its focus on thinness and reduction of food intake, often involves eating little during the day, which can encourage people toward anorexia or can result in binge eating in the evening, as hunger intensifies.

Dieting is directly related to the sociocultural factor, the preoccupation with thinness in our society. Over the past several decades the cultural ideal, at least for women, has been focused on a slim, trim body. Now children of seven or eight have adopted the same concepts of slimness and physical attractiveness as those held by adolescents. The emphasis on an almost anorexic looking female body shape is prevalent in Western societies. It seems to occur in nonwestern countries only when their population is influenced by Western values.

The sociocultural values in our country include a negative attitude toward overweight children and adults, who often are discriminated against. Furthermore, the cultural standards for women's bodies do not coincide with the actuality of the American female body. Whereas the weights of winners of the Miss America Pageant have been decreasing, the actual weight and height of women under age 30 has been increasing. Also, it is questionable whether it is even physically possible for most women to achieve the idealized female body form of narrow hips and thin thighs.