Eating disorders declared disease
Published: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 24, 2013 22:02
As research brings new data to light in every field of scientific study, our society is forced to integrate new concepts into the way you and I live. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the rapidly expanding field of medicine.
Disease is a rather difficult concept to pin down. Many define a disease as an ailment that inhibits the physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being of an individual.
This definition seems harmless enough until you notice that it has been used to classify homosexuality as a disease, leading some to justify bizarre medical “treatments” in hopes of curing homosexuality.
Rightly so, many would not consider homosexuality a disease today. However, we need not look too far back in our own history to see where our misconception of diseases has impaired the recovery of those who needed assistance.
In the ’50s, depression was commonplace amongst women in the United States. Many of these women held manufacturing jobs, creating ammunition for WWII until the men returned home at the conclusion of the war.
Displaced by the soldiers returning to the civilian world, traditional gender roles reclaimed their newfound independence and turned Rosie the Riveter into a housewife.
Understandably, many of these women were left with severe depression. This outbreak of depression, rightly classified as a disease, was thought to be treated through motherhood and servitude to one’s husband.
By today’s standards, surely we have avoided these sorts of mistakes, right? Unfortunately not, seeing as how many people tend to think of eating disorders as being a phase some teenagers go through and then grow out of. The truth of the matter is that all kinds of people are affected by eating disorders.
The National Eating Disorders Association states the following on their website:
“In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, or an eating disorder not otherwise specified.”
Sadly, many of these people will never seek treatment. They will never tell another person and will suffer quietly.
The negative impact on the health of someone suffering from an eating disorder are often quite severe, including muscle loss, reduction of bone density, dehydration, fatigue, and a decrease in blood pressure that can increase the risk of heart failure.
While the signs of potential eating disorders are too lengthy to list here, they can be found on the MAYO clinic website mayoclinic.com, on the NEDA website nationaleatingdisorderdisorders.org, and on a plethora of other resources on the Internet and around campus. If you suspect a friend may be suffering in silence, encourage them to talk about it.
Let them know that they have your support, that you will not judge them, and that recovery is possible.