Anorexia/Eating Disorders/Project Research

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QUESTION: Hi there :) So I am a 9th Grader and I was assigned a project in health class to research a type of disease/disorder common for people my age, and anorexia came to mind first. I thought it would be best to ask an expert instead of just reading facts and such. If you wouldnt mind answering a few questions that would be great. So first off, how do people typically develop anorexia? Who does it generally effect? What are some telltale signs someone has it? Is there some link between depression/self harm/anorexia? How do people become so thin(like 100 lbs or less) where they have a stomach that goes in and hipbones sticking out(like the stereotypical pictures you see about anorexia)? On average how much do they eat in a day? What health problems are there? What risk factors or side effects are there? Sorry I know that was a lot of questions but I just want to be thorough about this, and any other details or anything you think would be helpful are greatly appreciated, the more in depth the better. Thanks for your time :)

ANSWER: Hi Courtney,

I actually recently recorded a video series on YouTube about eating disorders that should answer most of your questions. Why don't you have a look at that first? Then if you still have questions, please let me know. :)

Thank you!

Diagnostic criteria - anorexia is about 20 min in: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSAtSolkcVg  
Early warning signs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JppDEeyb4FU  
Risk factors and treatment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcYctJSA8YA  

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QUESTION: Hi again :) So those videos were perfect! They answered everything to a T! I only have one other question. Part of the project is to create a fake scenario of a person with this disease and how it all plays out. So my scenario is a 14 year old girl average build and weighs about 125-130. How would the entire process take place, like her goin from that to say an even 100 or so? Is it a long process and how would it all happen? I'm trying to be super specific so I get it all right. Thank you so much for your help!!! :D

Answer
Hi Courtney,

It's hard to say as it varies by person. It would likely have started when she was 6-8 years old with an increasing sense of body dissatisfaction. She likely would have tried dieting at some point between 8 and 10 years old. That would have continued until 'the dam broke' so to speak. There is usually a triggering event that starts the cascade - could be a parent's divorce, break up with a boyfriend, new school, etc. This would have led to a sense of loss of control. She would have attempted to regain control by controlling her food. This would have likely started with labeling certain foods as 'bad' and avoiding those foods. It would have progressed over time to include more and more foods until she was eating less than 800 calories per day. Likely less than 400 calories per day. Each time the weight loss plateaud, she would have re-evaluated her 'strategy' and eliminated more food items or meals or something. Depending on which type of anorexia she had, she might binge and purge, excessively exercise, or just become increasingly restrictive with her diet... It's hard to say how long it would take to get that weight off. Depends on her genetics, activity level, how much she's eating...

Hope that helps!

Anorexia/Eating Disorders

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Mary Pritchard

Expertise

I can answer questions about the psychology of eating, disordered eating attitudes and behaviors such as drive for thinness, drive for muscularity, binge eating, body dysmorphia, dieting, excessive/obsessive exercise, and body dissatisfaction. I can also answer questions about anorexia and bulimia.

Experience

I have a PhD in Psychology and teach courses in the Psychology of Health and the Psychology of Eating. I have been conducting research on disordered eating and exercise behaviors for 15 years.

Organizations
Midwestern psychological association, rocky mountain psychological association

Publications
Over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles in journals such as Eating Behaviors, Eating Disorders, and Eating and Weight Disorders

Education/Credentials
PhD in Psychology from the University of Denver

Awards and Honors
30 teaching awards, have received funding to conduct my research from academic institutions and state and local government

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