Explain specific health psychology issues

8 August 2016

Anorexia is an irrational fear of gaining weight, it typically involves excessive weight loss and usually occurs more in females than in males. There are four clinical characteristics of individuals with anorexia which are- An individual behavioural symptoms who is anorexic will avoid food, compulsively weigh, engage in activities to keep their weight down for example excessive exercise, make themself sick, take laxities and burn calories. An individual’s cognitive symptoms will be that they think they are 20% bigger than what they are, this is called body distortion.

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An individual’s emotional symptoms will be that they will feel anxious and they will keep checking their weight on the scales and be fearful of putting on weight, also they will feel nervous, scared and have fear of fatness. An individual’s physical symptoms would be they would have amenorrhea, they will be emaciated, low blood pressure, general health diseases and they will have loss of body weight. Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder and a mental health condition.

Individuals who have bulimia try and control their weight by restricting the amount of food they eat, they binge eat and purge the food from their body by making themselves sick or use laxatives. There are five clinical characteristics of individuals who are bulimia nervosa- 1. Binge – This is when an individual has an excessive amount of calories consumed in such a short period of time. On average an individual consumes between 1,500 – 3000 calories a day but an individual who binge eats will eat triple the average calories. 2.Purge – This is when an individual gets rid of their food by self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives and excessive exercise. 3. Frequency – An individual with Bulimia Nervosa will binge and purge twice a week for three months until they can be diagnosed with it. 4. Body image – An individual’s body image is going to look average but see themselves as bigger inappropriate with it. 5. Different from anorexia – Weight and periods as normal. I will now go on to explain the psychological expectation of anorexia and bulimia. The behavioural explanations of bulimia are:- The Social Learning Theory

The social learning theory is a process of learning by observing other people. In our society we are surrounded by images of the ‘ideal’ body which is categorised as a size 6-8. Images of the female body in magazines, on TV and in films all emphasise a slim body shape. These images and people act as models for the women in our society. They are seen to receive lots of reinforcement for being thin – fame, admiration, success and money. Young girls start being exposed to this from an early age, and very quickly they learn that being thin brings vicarious reinforcement, so they want to imitate them to.

They also observe that by putting on weight brings punishment for example when celebrities put on weight they are in newspapers and magazines being criticised. Although everyone in the United Kingdom is exposed to role models but not everyone is anorexic. Operant Conditioning Operant conditioning is a process of learning through reward and punishment, if an individual’s gets a reward then they are more likely to repeat it but if an individual get punished then it is unlikely to be repeated.

This is why when individuals go on a diet, they lose weight and other individuals give them attention for example say to them “there’s good you’re looking” which rewards the individual which then encourages them to carry on this vicious cycle. Although not everyone who loses weight and diets goes anorexic. I will now go on to the psychodynamic approach which was developed by Sigmund Freud. The family systems theory Minuchin believes that individuals who are anorexic tend to come from enmeshed families.

Enmeshed families is families that tend to stick their noses in other people’s business. Children feel they only have control over what they eat. The bad points about this is that it doesn’t explain the fact that there is higher rates of eating disorders now rather than in the 1950’s. Cause or result – does the family actually stick their nose into other peoples business which is seen as a cause as their constantly looking at other people’s lives or do they stick their nose in because the girl is anorexic because of the enmeshed family or is the family enmeshed because the girls anorexic.

Although this can’t explain gender differences or can’t explain the sudden increase in recent years. The influence of sexual development Proposed that the disorder represents on unconscious effort by a girl to remain pre-pubescent as children want to remain child-like and have a fear of sexually maturing. This theory can’t explain anorexia in boys and why there is higher rates of anorexia in these days. The influence for the struggle for Autonomy This theory was proposed by Brunch in 1971, Brunch believes that there are two types of parent’s effective parents and ineffective parents.

According to Brunch he believes that effective parents feed their children when they’re hungry and comfort them when they’re anxious and he believes that ineffective parents may miss-read the cues and they are to blame for the children being anorexic. For example when they child cries to the mother they might feed it, believing it to be hungry and when its cries due to hunger she may comfort it believing it may be anxious. This then confused the child about their own internal statue and their needs.

It makes them feel dependent on others. This theory can’t explain the difference in anorexia to girls to boys and why there’s more anorexia in society these days. The Cognitive Approach This approach focuses on “cognitive biases”. Cognitive biases are tendencies in which individuals think in certain ways, they can lead to systematic deviations for a standard of rationality or good judgement. In this instance individuals who are anorexic tend to think they are in fact 20% bigger than what they are.

Mckenzie et al (1993) interview female eating disorders patients and a control group about their body weight, shape and ideals and got them to estimate their own size in relation to other women. They found- When the women were asked to compare themselves with control who were the same size, ED patients tended to overestimate their own body. When asked to indicate their ideal body shape/weight, ED patients chose a weight/shape significantly lighter/thinner than the control group. The participants were then given a chocolate bar and a soft drink to consume. Following this they were asked to re-estimate their body weight/shape.

The ED patients judged their size has increased, whilst the control group judged that their size has not changed. Faitburn et al (1999) identified perfectionism and negative self-image as the greatest risk factors in developing an eating disorder. Girls who normally come from middle class society and want to be perfect at everything they do for example grades, hobby and look perfect. Treatments for eating disorders. Psychotherapy is a type of therapy used to treat emotional problems and mental health conditions. This therapy involves talking to a trained therapist either one-to-one or in a group.

It allows you to look deeper into your problems and worries and helps you to deal with troublesome habits and w die range of mental disorders. Psychotherapy can help you to discuss feeling that you have about yourself and other people. A therapist will treat sessions as confidentiality. A psychotherapy treats many other mental conditions other than eating disorders such as:- Depression Anxiety disorders Obsessive compulsive disorder Long term illnesses Substance misuse Most psychotherapy treatments involves meeting a therapist regularly, either ones a week or fortnight although it can be more often if needed.

Individuals sessions usually last up to 50/60 minutes but group sessions are longer. There are several different types of psychotherapy that have been proven to be effective and are offered on the NHS such as:- Psychodynamic (psychoanalytic) Psychotherapist This therapy was introduced by Freud and is when a psychoanalytic therapist encourage you to say whatever is going on in your mind. This will help you to become aware of hidden meanings or patterns in what you do or say that may be contributing to your problems.

However, this therapy is not effective because you’re going to remember things in which you have purposely forgotten, this can then make you rebel. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) This is therapy is a form of psychotherapy that examines how beliefs and thoughts are linked to certain behaviour and feelings. It can teach skills that retrain a person’s behaviour and style of thinking to help them deal with stressful situations. This therapy however is ethical as it is helping you get rid of your problems through the good parts in your life. Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT)

This therapy looks at the way in which illness can be triggered by events involving relationships with others, such as bereavements, disputes or relocation. It helps people cope with the feelings involves as well as to work out coping strategies. This therapy is very ethical as the therapist is not harming the individual in any way. Humanistic Therapies This therapy aims to find out how someone thinks about him or herself and to create a non-judgemental, understanding environment between the person and their therapist. This therapy is effective as it has similarities to counselling and counselling has proven to be very effective.

Medical Intervention Some individuals may refuse treatment even though they are severely ill then this therapy becomes compulsory, the individual has no choice but to have this treatment. Doctors may decide to admit the person to hospital for compulsory treatment under the Mental Health Act. This is sometimes known as ‘sectioning’ or being ‘sectioned’. The treatment involves the individual being force fed. This type of therapy is very ethical as if an individual is about to die then it’s the health professional’s duty of care to save the person from death (class notes).

There are two types of eating disorders which involves exercise, compulsive exercise and exercise bulimia. Compulsive exercise is when an individual builds their lives around working out and are generally distressed if they cannot exercise as much as they feel they need too, an individual can be addictive to exercise in attempt to control or lose weight. Exercise bulimia is a psychological disorders in which an individual is compelled to exercise in effort go burn calories of food energy and fat reserves to an excessive level that in time effects their health and wellbeing.

Exercise bulimia is one big cycle an individual binges then they feel guilty and then they do excessive exercise, it is quite similar to compulsive exercise but it involves eating binges. Individuals exercise for several reasons such as they may want to tone up, lose weight, to stay fit and active and help with their confidence to help them look good. Although there are both physical and psychological benefits of exercising. The physical benefits of exercise are that:- Exercising can control your weight. Exercise can reduce risk of cardiovascular disease Exercise can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes

Exercise can reduce the risk of cancer Exercise can strengthen bones and muscles. The psychological benefits of exercising are:- It can improve an individual’s mood Reduces stress and an improved ability to cope with stressors Improves an individual’s self-esteem Pride in physical accomplishment Satisfaction with oneself Improves body image Increased feeling of energy However individuals can become obsessed with exercise, they make it apart of their routine, some individuals even chose exercise instead of going to work or spending time with family and friends.

Also some individuals who are obsessed with exercise tend to refuse to take any rest days even when their ill, they also continue to exercise even when their injured which can be a serious risk of doing more harm to themselves. They also experience severe stress and emotional upset and depression if they are unable to exercise and they never exercise for fun. Although the recommended exercise a week is healthy for everyone there are several health problems associated with excessive exercise which involves fatigue, fatigue is also referred to as tiredness and exhaustion.

It’s described as a physical and mental state of being tired or weak. Excessive exercise can also cause a temporary decrease in the body’s immune system function. Research has shown that by doing excessive exercise the body produces certain hormones that temporarily lower immunity. Cortisol and adrenaline which are both known as stress hormones, raise blood pressure and cholesterol levels and suppress the immune system. Also individuals refuse to take rest days when their ill although their immune system is already fighting the infection they are more likely to make things worse and extend their illness.

For women who excessive exercise a major associated problem is amenorrhea, amenorrhea is when women stop having monthly menstrual cycles, this can be associated with low body weight. However there can be some serious long-term health consequences of amenorrhea such as infertility, atrophy of the vagina and breast and osteoporosis which is when the bones become brittle and fragile. Also an increased risk of heart attacks later in life. Excessive exercise can also cause heart problems. Researchers say excessive exercise may permanently damage the heart and can trigger rhythm abnormalities.

Also health problems associated is dehydration, dehydration occurs when someone’s body loses too much fluid. This can happen when you stop drinking water or lose large amount of fluid through vomiting, sweating or exercise. Being dehydrated can be a serious condition, it can cause muscle cramps, feel faint and if an individual is severely dehydrated then there is no longer enough fluid in their body to get blood to their organs which may make them go into shock which is a life-threatening condition.

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