Case Study-Eating Disorder

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Sarah is a sixteen year old girl. She is in the tenth grade and until recently was an optimistic and energetic young girl. Sarah’s mother has began to worry about her lately. Her mother recently found a bottle of diet pills hidden in her room. She has also noticed that Sarah’s behavior has been changing in the past few months. Sarah’s mother is unaware that Sarah’s boyfriend has been reducing her to tears lately by commenting that she has been gaining weight. Her mother has also found her looking in the mirror a lot more than usual. When she looks in the mirror she often sucks in her stomach and is complaining that she is not beautiful. As a result, Sarah has been going off food for days to the point of starvation. Then after days without food she breaks down and eats nearly everything that she can find in her refrigerator. Sarah’s weight has significantly dropped in the past few weeks. It is important to intervene immediately in Sarah’s life and get her help. When individuals with eating disorders get help early on during the disorder there is a high success rate of long-term recovery. Sarah is part of one the highest rated risk groups for eating disorders. People between the ages of ten to twenty-five are at the most risk for developing an eating disorder. Sarah is entering her teenage years and is encountering a lot of changes with her boy and her emotions. Eating disorders are also usually referred to as female diseases. Eating disorders are not limited to females. Sarah is a young women that is starting to feel pressure from her boyfriend to lose weight. Sarah is just beginning to have issue with her weight and food. Individuals with eating disorders often do not recognize that they have a problem or will not admit that they have a problem.

The two most common forms of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia. They are similar to each other and are both very harmful to an individual. Anorexia is characterized by an obsession with weight gain and self-distorted body image. Individuals with anorexia have a body weight that is 85 percent below their normal weight for their height and age. They maintain a low body weight by starving themselves, over-exercising, using diet pills, or vomiting. The effects of this eating disorder are emotional, physical, social, and psychological. It is a very serious disorder. There are two types of anorexia. The restricting type and the bingeing and purging type. When people think of anorexia they most commonly think of the restricting type which is characterized by individuals not participating in any bingeing or purging behaviors. The binging and purging type of anorexia is when the individual does participate in bingeing and purging behaviors by using laxatives, self-inducing vomiting, or over-exercising(DSM-IV-TR; American Psychiatric Association, 2000).

Bulimia, like anorexia, is characterized by one’s obsession with weight. This type of eating disorder involves an individual having recurrent binge eating followed by purging behaviors. The use of laxatives, diuretics, and other medications help the individual with the purging. Over-exercising and a self-distorted body-image are a large part of bulimia. Persons with bulimia feel they have no self-control over their binges and purges. Their binging and purging behaviors happen often and occur at least once a week for three months (DSM-IV-TR; American Psychiatric Association, 2000).

Eating disorders are very serious and will not typically get better without treatment. It is often difficult to get people with eating disorders to get help, because they don’t think that they have a problem or they are scared of gaining weight. One of the most important aspects of treating anorexia nervosa is to have the patients gain weight and restore nutrition. In some cases their weight can be so low that hospitalization is necessary. In Sarah’s case, and most other cases, she can be treated as an outpatient with therapy. For...
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