The Role of Stress in the Development of Bulimia
During the past few decades, Western culture has witnessed an enormous explosion in the number of eating disorders reported among young women. One such type of eating disorder is Butimia Nervosa. According to the DSM-IV criteria it is characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating, in which the person experiences a feeling of "loss of control",and recurrent compensatory behavior in order to prevent weight gain. Both of these behaviors occur, on average, at least twice a week for three months. In addition, self-evaluation is unduly influenced by body shape and weight. Finally, there are two subcategories of bulimia. There is the purging type in which the person regularly engages in self-induced vomiting or the misuse of diuretics or laxatives. The other type is the nonpurging group in which the person engages in other inappropriate compensatory behaviors rather than self-induced vomiting, laxatives, or diuretics. (American Psychiatric Association, 1993)
Several studies have focused on stress as one important variable in the onset or occurrence of eating disorders such as bulimia. In addition, they explore the different situations or events which bulin-fics consider to be stressful and the various ways in which bulimics cope with these stressors. In this paper I plan to evaluate the effectiveness of the following related studies and attempt to answer the question, What is the role of stress in the development of DuUnfia?
Do Bulimics Appraise Stress Differently?
It is possible that bulimics may appraise potential stressors differently from other individuals. For example, in comparison to nonbulimics, people with bulimia may appraise the situation as being more stressful, less predictable, less controllable, or less desirable. in addition, some studies indicate that bulimics experience more frequent binge eating episodes during situations which are considered to be more stressful. For example, Wolf and Crowther (1983) studied indicators of binge eating episodes among undergraduate women and found that perceptions of experiencing more stress in the past year were positively related to increased severity of binge eating. However, since stress only accounted for 6.3% of the binges it is difficult to conclude that bulimics appraisals of the stressors were different. (Cattanach, 1988)
Bulimics' Coping Mechanisms for Stress
Some theories suggest that butimics may experience coping deficits. Coping is generally defined as the cognitive and behavioral efforts to manage environmental and internal demands and conflicts affecting a person which exceed that person's resources. Coping responses are supposed to modify the effects of potential stressors. It may be that when. stressors act in combination with dieting, women who lack coping skills may be most vulnerable to developing bufimia (Lacey, 1986). Another study found that environmental stressors were indirectly related with...