This archived article was written by: Laura Strate
The dangers of anorexia and bulimia and the recovery programs and resources available at the College of Eastern were discussed last week in a student forum.
CEU student Kayla Bradley spoke of her personal struggles with a disorder and how her guidance from campus counselor Tracy Kitchen, who helped her overcome the problem she battled for years.
Jay Jeppeson, a psychologist with Four Corners Mental Health, says many factors such as self esteem, culture and genetics can cause anorexia or bulimia. He also says eating disorders are a common means for a person to hide true feelings he/she is afraid to address or a person may believe their personality to be insufficient and therefore seek reassurance in an altered physical appearance.
He says most commonly women are affected with an eating disorder and most have a distorted physical portrayal of themselves. A study Jeppeson referred to, states several women suffering from an assortment of eating problems were asked to pick a body type that they believed best depicted their own. The study shows that the average woman would pick a body figure at least 25 percent heavier than she actually is.
Jeppeson says eating disorders usually start during the preteen years and most people will seek help when college-aged. Eating disorders are treated depending on the severity. Some cases can be treated with counseling and educational resources and some must seek stronger reinforcement like in-patient facilities.
Danelle Howa, CEU nurse practitioner in the Health and Wellness Clinic, spoke of the physical toll a person experiences from an eating disorder. Anorexia, which affects one percent of the population, causes a low heart rate, a lessened need of sleep, osteoporosis, a discontinuation of the menstrual cycle, malnutrition and electrolyte imbalance.
Anorexia can also cause a fine layer o f hair to grow over the entire body; this is the body’s protective mechanism to help stay warm.
According to a study released in March by the University of North Carolina, 56 percent of the responsibility for developing anorexia is determined by genetics. The study also says that anxiety and depression is a major precursor of anorexia and anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder.
Bulimia affects four percent of the population and can cause teeth problems and sores in the mouth and throat from the overexposure of stomach acid. The knuckles can also become dry and scaly from too much contact with stomach acid. Lips can become dry and cracked, hair will be brittle and the skin can become discolored. Internal problems such as esophagus tears and gastric ruptures can occur while purging. The person will become dehydrated, malnourished and may lose feeling to their feet. The organs will inevitably be affected too. The brain functions will slow, the heart will become weak and the liver and kidneys can easily cease. A rapid weight gain after a duration of purging can also cause a heart attack.
If you would like any future information about eating disorders, please contact Kitchen at 613-5326.