Comorbidity Issues In Eating Disorders Essay

2770 words - 11 pages

Comorbidity issues in Eating Disorders

If a person visited their doctor and described the following symptoms, what would you determine their diagnosis to be? The woman is in her late teens and for the past six months she has been having problems with eating. When she eats she must cut her food into very tiny pieces; these pieces are then counted and separated into foods that are healthy and those which may not be as healthy on the plate. Once she has separated the foods she will not eat the unhealthy ones and discards them. Next she arranges the food in rows on her plate before beginning to eat. Once eating the food she only allows herself to have 7 bites of each food item so, as not to overindulge herself or stray from her set routine because she feels that something bad will happen if she exceeds this amount. She then proceeds to eat each tiny piece separately chewing one hundred times for each bite. This routine is repeated for each meal throughout the day and must be done in the same way each time. When she is finished with a meal, which typically takes several hours, she goes about her daily activities as she does normally and exhibits no other strange behaviors.

While it is obvious that the person described above has some issues with her eating behavior, what exactly is the nature of these issues? On one hand, she may have an eating disorder. She is meticulously concerned with the amount of food she is eating and the health value of each individual morsel of food. She only allows herself to have a set number of bites and must chew them thoroughly for the fear that if she exceeds this set amount or style that something harmful will come to her. These behaviors are only present when she is eating and have been observed in no other context, which would lead one to believe that the behavior is tied to eating specifically. While these are behaviors that are sometimes present with an eating disorder, just simply the description of this routine does not in itself specify an eating disorder. For diagnosis of anorexia or bulimia there must be an intense fear of gaining weight which is associated with this behavior. This is not necessarily the case with this person. Could the problem be obsessive-compulsive disorder? Counting, checking, ordering and the presence of a strict routine are symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder as well. Obsessions with checking the food, ordering the food and maintaining the routine could be the manifestations of this disorder as well. It is apparent through this example that these two disorders may indeed have some degree of overlap in symptoms and problem behaviors. Eating disorders are complicated mental illnesses, which can manifest themselves in many different areas. While the most obvious manifestations of an eating disorder are problems dealing with maintaining body weight and eating behavior, there are many factors, which underlie these problems with eating behaviors,...

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