Eating Disorders | Teen Ink

Eating Disorders

December 9, 2007
By Anonymous

In a recent teen study, ranging from grades 5-12, approximately two-thirds of the 548 girls surveyed said that they thought they needed to lose weight. But only 29% were considered medically overweight. What does that tell you about todays society? Does send positive images? Does it make you proud that we live in a world like that? It makes me disgusted.

Eating disorders are mental and physical disorders upon which the victim has abnormal eating patterns. The most common youngest age is eight. Eight. Little girls are starving themselves, throwing up after meals, or eating nonstop. And guess what? We encourage it. The fashion models, the celebrities; everyone has to have that perfect body. That skinny, wasting away body. No one can be normal. If you're normal, then you're fat. That's what we're telling kids, teens, and adults. Is it healthy?

Eating disorders can be triggered by cultural pressure to be perfect, or have control of something in the persons life, since so many things like parents and relationships aren't something to be controlled. Scientists and doctors say that it can sometimes be genetic, caused by environmental factors, or possibly even brain chemistry. That may be true, but I think that the media plays the biggest part in encouraging young girls and guys that ribs are in. Most teens who develop an eating disorder are between the ages of fourteen and eighteen. For girls, it happens around the time we start gaining a little extra weight and body fat during puberty. Something completely normal can turn out to have deathly consequences in our minds. The severity of eating disorders are increasing as the years go up; something everyone wants to avoid. No one wants to face the facts that their daughter, son, or best friend has an eating disorder and most people ignore the potential warning signs, causing it to continue developing at a slow, or alarmingly dramatic rate. It's sickening how much the world fantasizes about the perfect body and how obsessed with weight we all are. It's killing and disabling several girls, and no one is fully willing to take the blame.

The emotional damage done to these teens who suffer, or have suffered, with an eating disorder is irreversible! It leads to consistent guilt or depression, and often the use of dangerous drugs or other substances. In many and most cases, eating disorders go hand-in-hand with other psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, panic, and obsessive-compulsive. If these disorders continue to go untreated in teens, then they can result in fatal consequences like heart problems and malnutrition.

Anorexia nervosa, or anorexia, affects 19 people per 100,000 a year. Two of which are males, so don't think it only pertains to girls. It is also shown that males with twin sisters have a higher risk for obtaining an eating disorder. Anorexia is when a person won't eat any or much food, and if they do eat, then they are constantly counting calories and exercising whenever possible. Anorexics are scared to become fat, or they pursue thinness as a method of happiness in being 'perfect'. Some may take appetite suppressant pills, diuretics, or diet pills also. Most claim to have already eaten and aren't hungry, and drink large quantities of diet drinks. I think that it's absolutely beastly the way these girls think. But it's not their fault. They have been pressured by their peers, their idols, their values, and sometimes even their parents to be in shape. When they look in the mirror, they see fat. They see flab. They see everything but the truth. Even though they crave food at almost all hours of the day, they discipline themselves to not eat. There are several warning signs that point to a child having an eating disorder. Such as a person who has anorexia is usually a perfectionist and possibly a high achiever in school. And yet they might suffer from low self-esteem and says no to many types of foods offered to them. They may withdraw from social activities, or have an unreal perception of their body. Victims of eating disorders often weigh themselves excessively, diet, and feel cold even though the temperature is warm, normal, or just a bit chilly. Complaining about being bloated or nauseated is also a sign of anorexia.

If you go around and observe girls, or just teens in general, I can almost guarantee that most will exhibit some of these symptoms. We are pressured to constantly keep track of what we eat, and make sure we eat healthy. There are also, like warning signs, effects to anorexia. Several of them are, or can turn lethal. An anorexic person may have mild or severe damage to the heart, liver, or the kidneys. Since you don't eat, your body will slow down everything as if it were starving--and it is--which causes drops in blood pressure, pulse, and your breathing rate. Girls may stop getting, or get irregular, periods. You may become light headed, and have trouble concentrating, or have anemia and lanugo. But girls who have anorexia don't see any of these effects. they don't see how their ribs and back are defined by their bones. They don't see how their skin is stretched so tightly over their body that they look old and unhealthy. And the sad actuality of it is that they don't even see themselves dying.

Anorexia is not the only eating disorder that teens can develop. There are others, like bulimia nervosa, or bulimia. Around 80% of people diagnosed with bulimia are women, so that leaves the other 20% to be men. When someone has bulimia, they also fear gaining weight, and yet they eat surprisingly large amounts of food rapidly, called bingeing, then purges, uses laxatives, or uses diuretics. Some bulimics exercise exceedingly after they have a binge. These teens aren't as painfully skinny as the anorexics, and so they usually go unnoticed by binging in secret, only stopping if someone interrupts them or if they feel full to the point of busting. They are commonly normal-sized, slightly underweight, or slightly overweight. But, just because bulimia goes more unnoticed than anorexia doesn't make it any less harmful. It may, in fact, make it more serious since teens can fly under the radar easier with being bulimic. Teens who struggle with bulimia binge due to self-esteem issues, depression, or stress. It is not, however something done because of hunger. During binging, the teen will experience emotions such as lose of control, followed by a self-loathing, which ends in purging. It's horrid the thoughts that go through these peoples head as they are indulging in anything they can grab thats edible. Can you imagine? These girls and guys can't stand food, and yet they shove it in as fast as they can, mostly in secret. The feelings that you would get after eating all of that? The hatred you would feel towards your own body? It's abominable! You can notice considerable changes in someone's mood if they are bulimic. They might have bouts of depression, but mostly their mood fluctuates severely. They also might get chipmunk cheeks, or the enamel on their teeth would be burned away by acids. Stomach ulcers is common, also, resulting in constant stomach pain. No matter how hard a bulimic person would try to stick to a diet, they never can which usually end up with binging and purging again in thoughts of failure. Unlike anorexics, bulimics do recognize they have a problem. They no what they're consistently doing to their body is wrong, but the sense of helplessness that is associated with their weight is more powerful than their conscience. It's despairing how they can walk among us and no one would even know something was wrong.

What's going on the the minds of a person with bulimia? Does anyone know? Does anyone even want to know? It has to be a corrupt place, with thoughts always on the failure of themselves. What they might not realize is that people want to help them. They want to know. They do care. But those who suffer with such a foul disorder as bulimia don't know what to think anymore. They just do something to stop the intense fear of gaining weight after they've eaten. They feel that they have to. Bulimia was only diagnosed and recognized as an eating disorder since the 1980's. Can you imagine what people did before there was treatment?

Compulsive eating, more commonly known as binge-eating, is another eating disorder. Binge-eating, anorexia, and bulimia are the three most seen, but there are many others. Everyone will overeat at times, in normal. You could have a couple extra servings and then feel stuffed for maybe half an hour or so, but then you'll return back to your normal eating habits, right? For compulsive eaters, thats not the case. For them, it's controlling their life, thoughts, and actions. Binge eating is when someone feels as if they can stop eating. Unlike bulimics, the don't purge afterwards. Frequently eating in secret, they feel ashamed of eating in front of other people. They'll eat until they can't move anymore or feel serious pain, eat faster during bingeing, and hoard food. Can you even perceive the amount of emotional pain it must take to repeat that process over and over again? These teens must be experiencing nothing anyone can even begin to describe. It's horrible how many people endure this eating disorder. Though not as noticeable as anorexia, binge eaters aren't as unnoticeable as bulimics because they are usually overweight, even with frequent dieting. Many people who are binge eaters have been sexually abused as children. Several effects of compulsive eating are deadly like type two diabetes or certain types of cancer. Binge eaters can't control themselves when they eat. They feel ashamed. They feel depression even in the corners of their mind. They can't escape by themselves. They can't even see how many people would be willing to help them.

I chose eating disorders as my topic because it's mind blowing how many girls can go about their lives while they're actually struggling with a sanity-trying disorder that rips them to pieces. It's horrible how people can avoid these problems, simply because they don't want to feel responsible or because they don't want to acknowledge that it can actually affect their life. Eating disorders are very real, they aren't something that you just read about in far away places. There are many treatments for eating disorders, but the only teens who can get help are the teens who let someone know. Most are too ashamed that they've let it take over their life to even think about it. So how are they getting help? They're not and what most people don't realize is that anyone can have an eating disorder. Anyone can have an eating disorder and everyone can ignore it. So if you know anyone who has one, ask them. Let them know that you care, that you'll be there if they need you, because all they need someone to understand.

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