Eating disorder is a mental problem that is characterized by extreme, abnormal feeding habits that are aimed at preventing gaining of body weight. There are various types of eating disorders namely bulimia, binge eating, and anorexia. Eating disorders are associated with grave bodily and emotional consequences that can cause deadly outcomes in both genders. This essay is going to discuss the significance of eating disorders, symptoms, causes and risk factors for eating disorders, methods used for management of eating disorders and lastly the role of social workers in the management and recovery of patients with eating disorders (Basow, Foran, & Bookwala, 2007).
According to Basow, Foran, & Bookwala (2007), eating disorders among teenagers and young women is a very serious public health issue in the US with a great potential to cause death and impair the victims’ physical and emotional health. Eating disorders among people have far-reaching repercussions as not only the patients but also the society’s health in general, the productivity of its people and their relationships are adversely affected. Considering the negative impacts it bears on individuals and society, we should all be worried by the neglect of eating disorders by medical insurers and other public health stakeholders’ all of which has led to widespread health care problems for patients and their families. This is a mental disorder that requires a concerted effort from all the stakeholders to pull together and fight it to ensure proper services are available to prevent, manage and treat the ever growing statistics of eating disorders in the population.
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This type of mental illness presents itself in numbers of ways. Among the signs of a person with an eating disorder is continuous and strict dieting in spite of most of the victims being extremely underweight. The huge caution with their weight comes with a number of symptoms that include irregular weight changes over a period of time, extra cautious with simple carbohydrates and fatty foods and changes in eating habits with recognizable strange behaviors such as hiding food and seclusion during meal time. Other signs and symptoms for people with eating disorder include depression and fatigue, fluctuating between binge eating and Bulimia, exercising strict recipes and avoiding meals after cooking and lastly social withdrawal (Eisenberg et. al., 2011).
Various factors have been found to predispose and accelerate the impact of eating disorders to those suffering from this type of mental illness. Most of the time, these factors work in combinations of environmental, psychological and/or biological anomalies leading to a person adopting or aggravating eating disorders. First, biological events include hormonal imbalances in the body and/or lack of some nutrients in the body. Secondly, psychological crises that have a significant effect of elevating eating disorders are negative body image and low self-esteem. Lastly, environmental factors or rather crises situations that could fuel the tendency of eating disorders in people include broken families, some jobs prescribe thinness as a prequalification, some sports also requires players to attain and maintain thin body structures in order to perform better. Lastly, another predisposing factor is traumas from unhealthy family relationships and abuse during childhood (Eisenberg et. al., 2011).
Eisenberg et. al., (2011) points out different ways in which eating disorder specialists can embrace to effectively communicate to their patients. Of key importance is to ensure that they use an integrated approach in order to strategically and effectively communicate to Eating disorder patients. Studies have shown that communication with people with eating disorders needs consistent messages across a variety of channels. Along with this messages, the intended audiences also need to be taught in media advocacy, collaboration, social marketing, media literacy, and lastly educational and entertainment programs. The messages for patients with eating disorders should be designed in line with their age, culture, and experience. The message should also be factual and research-based.
Methods of treatment and therapy for eating disorders will be determined by the extent of the disorder. Normally, the first stage of treatment for eating disorders is outpatient, however, the specialists here will observe and recommend treatment type. Outpatient Eating disorders treatment is less strict and can be done by a therapist, a nutritionist or a recovery professional, thrice or at least twice weekly. The second phase is the Intensive Outpatient Eating Disorders Treatment. This is meant for patients who need more than just an outpatient care, but they still can afford time for either work or school. Other types of treatment include hospital treatment and residential eating disorder treatment (Eisenberg et. al., 2011).
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is very helpful for patients with eating disorders. This therapy helps patients to point at negative beliefs that promote bad eating habits as well as those healthy eating habits that will help them recover. Another therapy is the Medical Nutrition Therapy. This is an integrated approach for management and care for various diseases that exhibit symptoms (Basow, Foran, & Bookwala, 2007).
Based on the fact that eating disorders are complex psychological illnesses that impair patients in a number of ways, care and management methods should be integrated and bring in the expertise of different but relevant fields in order to effectively address the eating disorder. Human services worker are charged with guiding persons with eating disorders so that they discovers their beliefs and habits that promote bad eating habits, and further help them devalue the cultural beliefs that undermine healthy eating choices. Individuals with eating disorders may also have problems in their homes, school or workplace that could be pushing them to either be binge eating or anorexia (Basow, Foran, & Bookwala, 2007). A person with these anomalies is eventually affected by either of these eating disorders. The human service worker works closely with the patient to arrest this situation and bring the patient back on a recovery track.
Basow, S.A., Foran, K.A., & Bookwala, J. (2007). Body Objectification, Social Pressure, and Disordered Eating Behavior in College Women: the Role of Sorority Membership. Psychology of Women Quarterly , 31 (4), 394-400.
Eisenberg, D., Nicklett, E. J., Roeder, K., Kirz, N. (2011). Eating Disorder Symptoms among College Students: Prevalence, Persistence, Correlates, and Treatment-Seeking. Journal of American College Health . 59 (8).