Mental Health Monday—the brain of anorexia


I thank you, God—You’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, You know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, You watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before You. (Psalm 139)

“Often referred to as self-starvation, anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that results in drastic, life-threatening weight loss. Estimated to affect 1 percent of adolescent females in the United States, anorexia nervosa has one of the highest death rates of any mental health condition.

“In the United States, approximately 86 deaths in 100,000 among 15-to-24-year-olds are attributed to anorexia nervosa—about five times more than what is expected among people in that age group. Perhaps more troubling, the suicide risk among individuals with anorexia nervosa is approximately 32 times that of the general population.

“Anorexia nervosa is most likely to occur among teenage girls and young women—at least 90 percent of sufferers are females—although it can strike both males and females at any age. Because the disorder robs the body of the fuel it needs to perform properly, the body begins to slow down critical functions in an effort to conserve energy.” (US News & World Report)

dr hillDr. Laura Hill is the president and CEO of the Center for Balanced Living in Worthington, Ohio. Her explanation and interpretation of eating disorders is one of the best around. First, Dr. Hill opens with the idea that physical illnesses are looked at in a different light than mental illnesses, and that recovery for mental illness can be easier if it is approached as if it were a physical illness.

In explaining this concept, Dr. Hill also addresses the brain biology that is an eating disorder. To help demonstrate this concept, Dr. Hill explains that those who suffer from eating disorders experience constant noise in their thought patterns; noise that is so loud and confusing that the only way to control it is through controlling eating habits. To give the audience an idea of what this is like, voice recordings of typical thought patterns are displayed for a very real, very dramatic depiction of the anxieties surrounding the everyday struggles of those with an eating disorder. After watching Dr. Hill’s TED Talk you will be able to understand the biological forces behind an eating disorder and how they work in conjunction with the social and emotional struggles one can experience.