Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Uncovering Ed: A Qualitative Analysis of Personal Blogs Managed by Individuals with Eating Disorders

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Uncovering Ed: A Qualitative Analysis of Personal Blogs Managed by Individuals with Eating Disorders

Article excerpt


Eating disorders remain a widespread silent battle that calls for awareness and understanding. The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) provides an estimate based off epidemiology information provided by Wade, Keski-Rahkonen, and Hudson (2011) that about twenty million women and ten million men in the United States suffer from anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, or an eating disorder not otherwise specified (National Eating Disorder Association, 2013, Wade, Keski-Rahkonen, & Hudson, 2011). The National Institute of Mental Health provides detailed information on the characteristics of anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder. Anorexia nervosa is characterized by emaciation, an unwillingness to maintain a normal or healthy weight, intense fear of gaining weight, distorted body image, a self-esteem that is heavily influenced by perceptions of body weight and shape, denial of the seriousness of the low body weight, lack of menstruation among females, and extremely restrictive eating. Symptoms of bulimia nervosa include recurrent and frequent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food and feeling a lack of control over these episodes. Diagnostic criteria for bulimia include bingeing episodes at least twice per week including compensatory behaviors (APA, 2013). Compensatory behavior following the binge-eating consists of forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, excessive exercise, or a combination. Binge-eating disorder is very similar to bulimia nervosa but without the compensation for the binge episodes (National Institute of Mental Health, 2011).

Thirteen million Americans binge-eat, ten million women battle anorexia or bulimia, and one million men battle anorexia or bulimia. Also, the number of eating disorder-related hospitalizations in the USA has increased between 1999 and 2006. From 1999 to 2006 there was an 18 percent overall increase, a 37 percent increase among men, and a staggering 119 percent increase among children under twelve years old. CNN also reports that 80 percent of all ten year olds are afraid of being fat and 42 percent of all first through third grade girls want to be thinner (CNN Health, 2012).

Development of ED

Eating disorders may develop for a variety of reasons. Six notable factors according to research include culture, personal characteristics, emotional disorders, stress events or life changes, biology, and family (Womenshealth, 2010). Tozzi, Sullivan, Fear, McKenzie, and Bulik (2003) interviewed 70 women who were referred for inpatient treatment of anorexia nervosa. They found that more than one-third (34.78%) of the patients they interviewed highlight dysfunctional family as contribution to the onset of their disease. Following this cause were weight loss and dieting (21.74%) and stress and frustration (20.29%) (2003). Individuals diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are likely to have a history of behavioral abnormalities and internalization problems such as social withdraw and depressive symptoms with complaints of nervousness, loneliness, inferiority, and guilt. With regard to bulimic behaviors specifically, externalizing abnormalities were also reported with more quarrels, emotional instability, jealousy, and attention seeking (Adambegan, Wagner, Nader, Fernandez-Aranda, Treasure, & Karwautz, 2012). As a conclusion of their study, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa pathology were found to be relevant to high negative affectivity, emotional instability, anxiety, depression, guilt, low self-esteem, and an internalization of these factors.

Physical and mental health can be severely impacted by the onset and continuation of eating disorders. There are several existing methods of eating disorder treatment that can prove useful when weighing their effectiveness. Cognitive-behavioral therapy stands as the treatment of choice for bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder, and family therapy is supported as the leading approach for adolescents with anorexia (Wilson, Grilo, & Vitousek, 2007). …

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