What are Eating Disorders?
Those suffering from eating disorders experience severe disturbances in their eating behaviors and their related thoughts and emotions. Those who suffer from eating disorders typically become obsessed with food as well as their body weight and appearance. In many cases, sufferers are perfectionists who suffer from low self-esteem. They usually perceive themselves as overweight, and can become extremely critical of their bodies. An intense fear of potential weight gain can lead to dangerous behaviors, such as semi-starvation, vomiting after eating, or excessive laxative use.
In many cases, eating disorders occur in conjunction with other disorders such as; anxiety, panic, OCD, and alcohol and drug abuse. It is important that these disorders are treated as well as the eating disorder, as they often are interconnected.
What is Anorexia ?
Anorexia Nervosa afflicts as many as 1 in 100 girls and young women, and it is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 12 and 35. Those who have anorexia don’t maintain a normal weight because they refuse to eat enough, and often exercise obsessively. Over time, the persons body may develop the following symptoms as starvation begins.
Physical Symptoms of Anorexia:
— Menstruation stops
— Thinning of the bones (from loss of calcium)
— Hair and nails become brittle
— Skin becomes dry and can become discolored
— Muscles waste away, including the heart
— Severe constipation
— A drop in blood pressure, slowed breathing and pulse rates
— Internal body temperature falls, causing the person to feel cold all the time
— Depression and lethargy
What is Bulimia ?
Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by eating large amounts of high calorie food in one sitting, and feeling out of control. After the binge, the sufferer feels extremely full and uncomfortable, as well as feeling regret and shame for having eaten so much. In an attempt to regain control of their situation,and minimize fears of weight gain, the person may induce vomiting or use a laxative. This cycle is usually repeated at least several times a week (or in severe cases, many times a day). Many hide their bulimia very well, so that friends and family members are unaware of the situation.
Physical symptoms of Bulimia:
— A chronically inflamed and sore throat
— Swollen glands in the neck and below the jaw which can cause one’s face to become puffy
— Tooth enamel wears off, and teeth begin to decay due to exposure to stomach acids
— Frequent vomiting causes gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD)
— Laxative abuse causes irritation, leading to intestinal problems
— Overuse of water pills causes kidney problems
— Frequent purging of fluids can lead to severe dehydration
What is Binge Eating Disorder?
Those who suffer from B.E.D. consume very large quantities of food in a brief period of time and feel out of control during the binge. The binge eating is chronic and can lead to serious health complications, specifically; severe obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
How are Eating Disorders treated?
Eating disorders clearly illustrate the close links between emotion, mental, and physical health. With the treatment of both the emotional and the physical symptoms of eating disorders, sufferers can resume suitable eating habits, and return to better emotional and physical health. Psychotherapy helps individuals with eating disorders understand the thought, emotions and behaviors that trigger these disorders.In addition, some medications have proven to be effective in the treatment process.
What is ADHD?
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental disorders affecting children. While 3-7% of school-aged children have symptoms of ADHD, many adults have symptoms of ADHD as well. Some children seem to outgrow the disorder, while others do not. Excess energy and short attention spans are common in most children as they develop. However, for children who suffer from ADHD, their hyperactivity and inattention are noticeably greater than expected for their age. Functioning with home, school and with friendships can be challenging for those with ADHD.
Common ADHD Symptoms Include:
–squirming and fidgeting
–difficulty following instructions and completing tasks
–unaware of being spoken to
–inability to sit still
–talking excessively and/or interrupting
–being easily distracted
What causes ADHD?
Scientists have not yet identified what causes a person to have ADHD, but they do know that genetics play a role. For example 3 out of 4 children with ADHD have a relative who also has the disorder. Brain injuries, or premature birth may also contribute to the development of ADHD.
Can ADHD be treated?
Absolutely, studies have shown that a combination of behavioral therapy and medication work best to lessen symptoms for the majority of people suffering from ADHD.
Behavioral Therapy focuses on managing the symptoms of ADHD, using positive feedback and consequences to improve behavior over time. Although behavioral therapy requires careful coordination, it can be very useful in helping children with ADHD to learn how to manage their behavior.
Medication can be a very helpful treatment method for ADHD, and many sufferers experience a dramatic relief of their ADHD symptoms. Staying in close communication with their physician will help ensure long-term treatment. Medications may need to change, or a dosage adjustment may be needed to optimize the patients treatment.
Who can diagnose ADHD?
Only a physician can diagnose and provide treatment for a person with ADHD. It is important for parents of children with ADHD to know that all decisions regarding treatment and care are always made between the parents and the physician.
How can schools help?
Teachers and school staff can provide parents and doctors with information which may help evaluate behavior identify learning challenges. In addition, parents should know that additional education services may be available for students whose learning is impaired by ADHD.
What are the consequences of untreated ADHD?
If left untreated, children with ADHD are at a greater than average risk for potentially serious consequences. These include, school failure, behavioral and discipline problems, social difficulties, family problems, alcohol and drug abuse, and depression. If left untreated, similar problems can persist into adulthood, including relationship and employment problems. Early and consistent treatment are very important for a person with ADHD!
What is Depression?
Depression is a serious medical illness that negatively affects how some one feels, thinks and acts.
Most common symptoms are:
- Loss of energy/increased fatigue
- Insomnia or oversleeping
- Irritability or restlessness
- Feeling guilty and/or worthless
- Trouble focusing, concentrating and making decisions
- Thoughts of death/suicide or suicide attempts
- Changes in appetite (can lead to weight gain or loss)
“Sadness” or Depression?
We all know that the death of a loved one, job loss, or the end of a relationship can cause feelings of sadness and are hard to get through. It is completely understandable for one to experience sadness or grief in response to stressful situations; however sadness and depression are not the same.
While feelings of sadness should fade with time, depression can continue for months and even years if untreated.
Who does Depression Affect?
Depression can affect anyone, even a person who seems to have an ideal life. Several factors can contribute to one’s chances of developing depression at some point in their lifetime. Contributing Factors Include:
Personality: Those who have low self-esteem, become overwhelmed by stress, or are pessimistic seem to be vulnerable to depression.
Genetics: Unfortunately, studies have proven that depression can be inherited from parents and grandparents.
Environmental factors: Continuous exposure to violence, neglect, abuse or poverty can increase the chances that a person may become depressed.
Biochemistry: Some people’s brains don’t produce enough of certain needed chemicals, may contribute to depression, (which may include anxiety, irritability and fatigue).
*It is important to keep in mind as well that some medical conditions can cause depression, (ex. vitamin deficiency) so it is important that a physician rule out general medical causes before beginning treatment for depression.
TREATMENT IS AVAILABLE!
Between 80% and 90% of people suffering from depression respond well to treatment, and almost all patients are able to experience some relief from their symptoms! Before treatment can begin, it is very important to have a psychiatrist conduct a thorough evaluation. This will help determine the best course of treatment.
Two common treatment methods are: Talk therapy (Psychotherapy) and Medication. Talk therapy can be used alone to treat mild depression. In the case of moderate or severe depression, talk therapy is often used in combination with medication to obtain the best results for the patient.
Depression causes needless suffering for patients and their friends and family, but with proper diagnosis and treatment, most sufferers can vastly improve their quality of life.