Day Program Intensive & Standard Outpatient

Is It Worth Dying For?

A recent commercial including all males portrays an interesting perspective on how obsessed Americans have become with their body image. In essence, it conveys the message that one’s clothing size will not determine one’s self-worth. Americans in general long for a healthier and improved body image. As an example, a recent study showed that 56 percent of women and 43 percent of men were dissatisfied with their overall appearance, and two-thirds of the women and over half of the men were dissatisfied with their weight. Empirical research indicates that males have a more positive body image than females.  Adolescents were especially uncomfortable with their body image and as many as 62 percent of this population expressed body image dissatisfaction.

Moreover, women expressed the most dislike for their hips and abdomen; for men, their chest and abdomen. However, the number one concern was their weight. In fact, weight was so closely linked to personal happiness that when asked if they would trade years off their lives to be thinner, 24 percent of women and 17 percent of men said they would give up more than three years.

Psychopathological concerns with body image or becoming obsessed with one’s body, weight, or image may result in a formal eating disorder. Clearly, body image distortion or a drive for thinness are symptoms that develop with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa which are both recognized as psychological disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual  (DSM-1V), published by the American Psychiatric Association.

The diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa is as follows: a refusal to maintain body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for age and height, intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though underweight, disturbance in the way in which one’s body weight or shape is experienced, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation, or denial of the seriousness of the current low body weight, and in postmenarcheal female, amenorrhea, i.e., the absence of at least three consecutive menstrual cycles.

The diagnostic criteria for bulimia nervosa is as follows: recurrent episodes of binge eating which is characterized by  eating in a discrete period of time an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat during a similar period of time and under similar circumstances or a sense of lack of control over eating during the episode, recurrent inappropriate compensatory behavior in order to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics, enemas, or other medications; fasting; or excessive exercise. In addition, the binge eating and inappropriate compensatory behaviors both occur, on average, at least twice a week for 3 months.

Self-evaluation is unduly influenced by body shape and weight and the disturbance does not occur exclusively during episodes of Anorexia Nervosa.

More recently the research criteria for binge-eating disorder has been addressed as well. The following issues are being explored as a diagnostic criteria: recurrent episodes of binge eating as described previously with bulimia nervosa, however, the binge-eating episodes are associated with three or more of the following:  eating much more rapidly than normal, eating until feeling uncomfortably full, eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry, eating alone because of being embarrassed by how much one is eating, and feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty after overeating. A marked distress regarding binge eating is present. Lastly, the binge eating occurs, on average, at least two days a week for six months and is not associated with the regular use of inappropriate compensatory behaviors (e.g., purging, fasting, excessive exercise) and does not occur exclusively during the course of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa.

Clearly, the aforementioned clinical diagnoses are more common in women than in men and at least 90 percent of the occurrences are actually in the female population. Death most commonly results from starvation, suicide, or electrolyte imbalance. In conclusion, would you actually die to have the perfect body? Get help for anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. Call Walker Wellness today at 877-899-7254 to start your journey to wholeness.

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