ILA 4 Vanessa Numme

Vanessa Numme
English 102
23 September 2016

The general topic and idea of what I will be writing about for my argumentative essay is the impact mental disorders have on ones eating habits. These include but are not limited to major depressive disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Specifically, I want to focus on post-traumatic stress disorder. The basic facts of this topic are that people suffering from mental disorders have negative eating habits and unhealthy lifestyles. Therefore, an argument that some people make on this subject is that having a mental disorder can lead to severe physical health issues such as obesity and heart disease due to eating poorly. An area of discussion that is popular with people interested in this subject is the brain and its parts. Each part of the brain controls a different function or activity, including the amygdala which controls emotions and feelings. Someone with a mental disorder may have damage to this part or another part of the brain. In addition, the limbic system is the part of our brain that drives hunger. Therefore, this part may be much more active in people with mental disorders who are using food to numb their pain. According to Timothy D. Brewerton, in the Journal of Women’s Health, “These data also suggest that the ingestion, and especially over ingestion, of fatty or sugary energy sources may be just another strategy that traumatized individuals use to numb themselves from their unpleasant feeling states and memories” (1133). This journal talks about how new data confirms links between post-traumatic stress disorder and the ingestion of sugary sodas and fast foods. It is known that food intake in humans causes great pleasure. This is due to the activity of two brain chemicals that mediate pleasure and emotion. These two major chemicals are serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for maintaining mood balance and dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s reward and pleasure centers (Bouchez). Another area of discussion that is popular with people interested in this subject that allows people to actually see the activity of these brain parts and chemicals is the fMRI. The fMRI is a functional magnetic resonance imaging technique that measures and maps brain activity that is noninvasive and safe. The brain has many specialized parts, therefore, there are very specific patterns of activity in each part (Shin). During an fMRI, a brain part will light up based on a certain activity. For example, if one is thinking about or eating food during an fMRI, the limbic system will light up. Therefore, patients suffering from PTSD would show very low activity in the amygdala, the brain part that regulates emotions, in an fMRI. Overall, the main point of my argument is that psychological issues can lead to physical issues. People suffering from mental disorders will end up suffering from a lot more due to their coping method of numbing themselves with food. This food addiction, similar to substance abuse, can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and more. People should take an interest in and care about this because any one of their loved ones could be affected by this. Mental disorders can lead to eating disorders, which can lead to physical health issues, which leads to an overall decreased quality of life, and in the end, death. And that, is why we should care.

Works Cited:

Bouchez, Colette. WebMD. “Serotonin and Depression: 9 Questions and Answers.” WebMD. 12 Oct. 2011. Web. 20 Sept. 2016.

Brewerton, Timothy D. “Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Disordered Eating: Food Addiction as Self-Medication” Journal of Women’s Health. Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2011. Web. 20 Sept. 2016

Mitchell, Karen S. & Wolf, Erika J. “PTSD, food addiction, and disordered eating in a sample of   primarily older veterans: The mediating role of emotion regulation.” Psychiatry Research. Sept 2016. Web. Sept 20. 2016.

Pinto-Meza, Alejandro and others. “Impact of Mental Disorders and Chronic Physical Conditions in Health-Related Quality of Life among Primary Care Patients: Results from an  Epidemiological Study” Quality of Life Research. Springer. Oct. 2009. Web. 20 Sept.        2016.

Shin, Dr. David. “What is FMRI?” What is FMRI? UC San Diego School of Medicine. Web. 20 Sept. 2016.


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