Word Count: 962A variation of Anorexia, Bulimia ranges fromexcessive food intake, to an out of controlcompulsive cycle of binge eating whereextraordinary amounts of any available food,usually of high carbohydrate content, may beconsumed. Once having gorged, the victims areovercome with the urge to rd themselves of whatthey hate eaten by purging themselves, usually byvomiting, and sometimes by massive doses oflaxatives. Between these obsessive bouts, mostare able to accept some nutrition.

Whereas theanorexic sufferer fears fatness from anticipatedloss of eating control, and unlike the anorexicsufferer the typical bulimic individual is notemaciated, but usually maintains a normal bodyweight and appears to be fit and healthy.However, the obsessive binge purge cycle causesthem deep distress, shame, guilt, self-loathing andsocial isolation, and many will go to any lengths tohide their shameful secret from the family andfriends. Typical Sufferers The anorexic or bulimicmay be either sex, but the smaller percentage is inmales.

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However the male percentage is on theincrease. Most sufferers come from middle andupper income families, and are usually highlyintelligent. Anorexic and bulimic people are oftenperfectionists, with unrealistically highexpectations. They frequently lack self-esteem,with their feelings of ineffectiveness and a strongneed for other peoples approval. Causes There isat present no generally accepted view of thecauses of anorexia or bulimia. Most authoritiesbelieve the problem to be psychologically based,possibly stemming from family and socialpressures, or other forms of stress in our modernenvironment.

Where a high value is placed onslim-ness, women are most likely to be judged ontheir appearance, against a heavy background ofhigh carbohydrate junk food promotion. Often, theillness is triggered by a major change in thepersons life. Age and Extent Anorexia tends tostart in early the early teens, whereas bulimiausually occurs in the late teens and older agegroups. Sometimes bulimia develops out ofanorexia, but can occur without a previous historyof anorexia. It often persists over many years.

It isknown girls as young as 8 years of age haddisplayed an unhealthy pre-occupation withdieting. The full extent of the problem is notknown, but estimates very from one in everyhundred school girls with anorexia, to six percentof Australian women with bulimia. Since bulimia isnot a physically obvious condition, the numberscould be far higher. Social Isolation People whohave anorexia or bulimia have probably beenfeeling isolated and friendless for a long time. Thismay have been one of the factors contributing totheir belief that they are essentially unacceptablepeople.

However, the condition itself increasessocial isolation. Sufferers dare not let people gettoo close to them in case their real self, which theydislike, is discovered. They cannot tolerate anydisruption of their rigid daily routine, which oftenincludes long periods of physical exercise designedto keep weight down, fixed eating times, andcarefully hidden arrangements for bingeing andpurging. Shared meals and social occasions areshunned for fear of exposing the problem. For thesame reason, sufferers will often reject offers ofhelp. All this leads to increased social isolation.Money Problems The self-starvation/bingeingpattern of eating can be paralleled by attitudes tomoney and things that money can buy.

Somesufferers become extremely thrifty, only buyingwhat can be justified as an absolute necessity.Some, just as with overeating, may overspend,and get into debt. Some will, after long periods ofself-denial, possibly start pilfering from family andfriends, or perhaps become involved in shoplifting.Psychological Effects In addition to isolation, thevictims suffer from self-disgust, guilt and shame,fear of change, and feelings of inadequacy andrejection.

They are lonely, desperate anddepressed, and may consider suicide as the onlyway to end the nightmare. Physical EffectsAnorexia and bulimia are serious disorders, whichin extreme cases can result in death. Amongknown adverse physical effects are: ? Loss ofmenstruation ? Breathing discomfort ?Constipation ? Loss of sex-drive ? Low bloodsugar ? Receding gums and rotting teeth ?Dizziness ? Lack of protein leading to edema, lossof hair and teeth, and growth of downy hair onface and elsewhere ? Intestinal infection ?Hypoglycemia ? Ruptured stomach and esophagus? Chronic sinusitis ? Kidney damage ? Severedehydration ? Bleeding and infection of the throat? Gastritis ? Ulcers ? Abnormal metabolism ?Vaginal nerve block ? Rupturing of internalmembranes ? Bowel tumors ? Mega colon ?Severe electrolyte imbalance which can lead toneuromuscular problems, including muscle spasmsand cardiac arrest ? Ruptured facial blood vesselsTreatments Contact casualty at major publichospitals in emergencies. Sufferers of bothanorexia and bulimia need to realize that they havea serious problem, and require encouragement totake personal responsibility in seeking help. Theymust learn to accept their strengths, weaknesses,successes, and failures, as part of a balanceleading to a normal happy existence. By clinging totheir self-destructive behavior, sufferers arerejecting normal participation in life, but can behelped to realize the rewards that a fullercommitment can bring. If the person with anorexiahas reached a dangerously low body weight, thisphysical problem must also be overcome to helpachieve normal body function and logical thought.

In extreme cases of anorexia this may requirehospitalization to enable nutrition to be monitored.Various forms of treatment are available such aspsychotherapy, counseling, self help groups,medical and non-medical practices. Treatmentoften needs to be prolonged and althoughoccasional regressions may occur, the patientneeds to accept these positively as part of theprocess of change for the better, rather than to seethem as reasons for continued self-hatred andpunishment.

The effort to recover is rewarded bythe relief that the recovery brings, both to thesufferers and their families and friends. SupportServices ? Personal counseling by experiencedtherapists covering: educational, motivational anddietary aspects of individual situations ? Referral toprofessional treatment agencies ? Telephone helpand support lines ? Provision of educationalspeakers at health seminars, schools and groupsetc. ? Workshops providing training andinformation ? Provision of information kits forsufferers, care takers and students MeetingsMeetings are informal gatherings for sufferers,families and friends, in a safe place for people tobe heard and feel understood. A place where theycan be offered practical help and encouragementas they move along the road to recovery.

Participants have the right and freedom to join inonly as much as they wish, and to move along at apace with which they feel comfortable.

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