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People With Eating Disorders - In What Ways Do They Suffer and Why?

Sep 10, 2008
People with eating disorders suffer in many ways: physically, mentally and emotionally. Let's look at each way of suffering separately.

Mentally they experience feelings of fear, inadequacy, and reduced ability to concentrate. All these affect the sufferer's studies, work and relationships. In severe cases sufferers even leave their jobs or studies because of their inability to cope with every day stress. Their coping strategies are limited to food. They have to binge or starve themselves to cope even with a little stress.

So you can see that the mental part of suffering significantly diminishes the quality of the anorexics-bulimics life.

Emotionally all of them feel down normally although anorexics sometimes feel high in the beginning of the disorder. The only satisfaction and false happiness they have comes from food (or should I say from food abuse: binging, purging or starving themselves.)

People with the eating disorder bulimia are dreaming about food while asleep or awake. They dream of what they would like to eat, what they will prepare for their next binge. They then spend the whole of the next day preparing for a binge.

You may ask: "How do they feel if they don't go through with their regular food abuse?" The answer is:" They feel like an alcoholic who has nothing to drink or like a drug addict who does not have access to any drugs. They feel shaky and nauseous, they feel they must binge and purge whatever the cost; they can't concentrate on anything else except for food."

Anorexics on the other hand fear food and perceive food as evil and dangerous. They believe that one single bite of food will make them put on an enormous amount of weight. And if they do have a little bit of food they are compelled to work it all out by over exercising, enemas, laxatives or vomiting.

People with eating disorders are normally withdrawn and hide their feelings. Instead of identifying, acknowledging and dealing with their emotions they blame themselves, feel guilty and anxious. They often compare themselves with others and always find themselves inferior to those people. They always think that other people are doing better then them.

These thoughts produce even more guilt and shame in their souls which then makes them turn to food abuse again and again.

Binging and purging appears to be cathartic as it stimulates special reward centers in the brain. These cause a false and temporary relief to their state of mind. Very soon they get addicted to these false feelings of relief and like alcoholics or drug addicts get hooked on the feelings binging gives them.

Anorexics get similar feelings but in relation to starving themselves. They get weird feelings of satisfaction by starvation.

The physical suffering includes constipation, increased sensitivity to infections, stomach aches, headaches, nausea, anemia, kidney damage, very low pulse rates, cardiovascular disorders and fragile bones due to low skeletal calcium.

Continued vomiting can cause erosion of the dental enamel and the teeth become corroded and chipped. The throat normally gets very sore and salivary glands can increase in size making the sufferers face puffy and swollen.

The most serious consequence from having an eating disorder is cardiac complications, as this can cause sudden death even when a person's asleep. This happens because of the extremely low levels of minerals (especially potassium) due to vomiting or starvation.

The heart must have potassium and other minerals to work correctly and to remain strong. If there is an extreme shortage of potassium the human heart simply stops working.

To conclude, it is important to understand that vomiting and starvation is only a way to add more problems to your existing ones. It is not a release for your day to day problems but a sure fired way for increasing them.

One of the best ways to stop doing all these bad things with food is by removing the subconscious blockages you have in your mind that make you bulimic or anorexic against your own free will.
About the Author
Dr Irina Webster MD is the Director of Women Health Issues Program. She is a recognised athority in the eating disorders area. She is an author of many books and a public speaker. To learn more about eating disorder treatment go to http://www.eatingdisorder-cure.com
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