Body Image and Eating Disorders in Adolescence

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Child and Adolescent Psychology:
Body Image and Eating Disorders In Adolescence

Alyssa Tremblay

Professor Stanford-Pollock
December 1, 2011
One of the main concerns in teens with poor body image or low self-esteem is eating disorders. There are four major types of eating disorders, which include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and EDNOS. Anorexia nervosa is statistically most common in white or Hispanic girls between the ages of 15 and 23. Although, studies recently have shown that anorexia nervosa is becoming more and more common around an even younger crowd. Anorexia nervosa is disease where people have a distorted image of themselves. This means that even when someone is abnormally thin, they see them self as being overweight when they look in the mirror. Anorexics are often very thin and unhealthy and feel extreme fear or guilt when they eat food. The shrinking of the stomach that is caused by eating so little also causes bloating whenever an anorexic person does eat. This is another contributor to why someone with anorexia feels so fat and guilty after a meal. People with anorexia nervosa typically refuse to eat most of the time (and if they do, they consume very little), exercise often, and develop a variety of other strange habits. This lack of eating and incessant exercising causes an abnormal heart rate, low body temperature, low blood pressure, increase in the likelihood of getting cavities, and electrolyte imbalance. Many anorexics can be identified by the fine hairs covering their bodies, pale skin, and brittle hair and nails. Anorexia also can potentially cause kidney infections or failure, and women to stop getting their periods. In severe cases of anorexia, it is sometimes necessary for the person to be hospitalized. Sometimes depression medication or obsessive-compulsive medication is prescribed in order to treat the psychological reasons that drive a person to become anorexic. Proper treatment, family, friends, psychiatrists, and doctors play a big role in the recovery process of someone with anorexia nervosa. Unfortunately, only about 4 out of every 10 people diagnosed with anorexia will make a full recovery. Bulimia nervosa is a disorder that is similar to anorexia nervosa in some ways but in others, just the opposite. Bulimia is a disorder where people feel a momentary loss of self control and consume large amounts of food all at once. The binging is then followed by feelings of regret and guilt, which lead to vomiting, extreme exercise, laxative or diuretic abuse, or enemas. Many bulimics act in secrecy because they are ashamed of the purging but at the same time will not feel satisfied with the feeling of food in their stomachs. Bulimia nervosa is often easier to hide than anorexia also because people with bulimia typically have a normal body weight. Some physical signs however include swollen glands and discolored/rotting teeth. People suffering from bulimia are also extremely body shape and weight orientedand may have a distorted body image like people with anorexia. Some more telltale signs of bulimics are frequent restroom visits, constant smell of vomit, excessive exercise, eating a lot, illness, or injury. Many people that suffer from bulimia nervosa do so because of a chemical imbalance in their brains. Genetics, cultural ideals, traumatic events, dieting, and athletics are some more common causes of this disorder. A wide variety of health consequences can result from chronic binging and purging. For example, the excessive loss of minerals in the body creates an electrolyte imbalance. This imbalance can lead to irregular heartbeats, and eventually heart failure or death. Individuals who use drugs to vomit or defecate increase their chances of this as well. Vomiting also makes glands swollen and can cause the esophagus to become inflamed or tear. Stomach acid wears down tooth enamel and lack of periods from bulimia nervosa...
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