eating disorders

SCOFF Questionnaire >

S Do you feel Sick because you feel full?
C Do you lose of Control over how much you eat?
O Have you lost more than One stone (about 13 pounds) recently?
F Do you believe yourself to be Fat when others say you are thin?
F Does Food dominate your life?

Answering yes to two of these questions is a strong indicator of an eating disorder.


What is an Eating Disorder? >

Eating disorders are devastating behavioral maladies. They can be brought on by a lot of factors, which may include disorders in personality and emotions, and negative family pressures. they are generally categorized under three headings; anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and eating disorders not otherwise specified. Although they may be new news to some, they are by no means new disorders. Anorexia was first defined medically in the late 1800s but the descriptions of self-starvation have been found ever in medieval writings.
Anorexia leads to a state of starvation and emacipation, which is the process of making oneself thin by starvation. People who have anorexia can lose at least 15% to as much as 60% of their normal body weight. Half of these people are known as anorexia restrictors, who reduce their body weight by severe dieting. The other half of the people are known as anorexic bulimic patients, who maintain emaciation by purging. Both types are serious but the bulimic type, also imposes additional stress on an undernourished body, is the more damaging.


Bulimia Nervosa >

This is more common than anorexia, and is characterized by cycles of binging and purging. Bulimia usually starts early in adolescence when young women attempt restrictive diets, fail, and react by binge eating. Then in response to binging they purge by vomiting or by taking laxatives, diet pills, or drugs to reduce fluids. Some people then revert to severe dieting, which cycles back to binging if the person does not go on to become anorexic. People with bulimia that do not go onto anorexia often have normal or high-normal body weight, but it can fluctuate by more than 10 pounds because of the binge-purge cycle. (People with bulimia average about 14 binge-purge episodes per week).


Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified >

This category is characterized by binge eating without purging, infrequent binge-purge episodes (less than twice a week or such behavior lasting less than three months), repeated chewing and spitting without swallowing large amounts of food, or normal weight in people who exhibit anorexic behavior.


Who Develops Eating Disorders? General Risk Factors >

One study reported that two-thirds of high school students were on diets, even though only about 20% were actually overweight. In Connecticut a study reported about 7% of girls and about 3% of boys had eating disorders. 90% of the reported cases have been women, but the rate in men is rising. Also with this study they have found men are more apt to hide eating disorders than women, so the incidence may be under reported. Both men and women are at high risks of eating disorders if they suffer from depression, personality disorder, or substance abuse.
Over the past several years bulimia has increased at a greater rate than anorexia. Young people who occasionally force vomiting after eating too much, however, are not considered bulimic, and most of the time this occasional unhealthy behavior does not continue beyond youth.
Anorexia nervosa is the third most common chronic illness in adolescent women.


Personality Disorders >

Linked to eating disorders are personality disorders; avoidant personality in anorexia, borderline personality in bulimia and narcissism in both. One study indicated women with both eating disorders tended to be less optimistic, to worry more, and to deny negative issues solving problems than were women without eating disorders. In other words people with eating disorders have a harder time dealing with stress than people without eating disorders.


Accompanying Emotional Disorders >

Anxiety Disorders, Including Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
These disorders are very common in people who have eating disorders. Phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorders usually precede the onset of the eating disorder, while panic disorder tends to follow. Social phobia, in which a person is fearful about being humiliated in public, are common in both eating disorders.


Depression >

Depression is common in people with eating disorders, particularly anorexia. Depression and eating disorders are also linked to the season. In many people, depression from a sever in darker winter months.


Early Puberty >

There is a greater risk for eating disorders and other emotional problem in girls who undergo early puberty, when the pressures experienced by all adolescents are intensified by experiencing possibly alone, these early physical changes, including normal increased body fat. One study of girls without eating disorders reported that before puberty, girls ate quantities of food appropriate to their body weight, were satisfied with their bodies and depression increased with lower food intake. After puberty, girls ate about three-quarters of the recommended calorie intake, had a poorer body self-image, and depression increased with higher food intake.
What Causes Eating Disorders?
Eating disorders are not brought on by a single factor, but are more often brought on by more than one factor or events. These factors or event may include, family pressures, chemical imbalances, and emotional and personality disorders.


Emotional Disorders >

Between 40% and 96% of all eating-disordered patients experience depression and anxiety disorders; depression is also common in families of patients with eating disorders. Bulimic patients are more likely to report having emotional disorders and dysfunctional families than are anorexic-restrictor patients.


Family Influences and Genetic Factors : Negative Family Factors >

Negative factors in the family, both inherited and environmental, play a major role in triggering and perpetuating eating disorders.


Genetic Factors >

Anorexia is eight times more common in people who have relatives with the disorder, but experts do not know precisely what the inherited factor might be. A genetic propensity toward thinness caused by a faster metabolism and accompanied by cultural approval could predispose some people to develop anorexia. An inherited propensity for obesity could also trigger eating disorders. October 21, 2000.


Where else can someone get help when having an eating disorder? >

Please refer to our "Crisis Help Lines" page. Click here.