Disorder of Interest
University of Phoenix
Disorder of Interest
Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by excessive food restriction and fear, fear of gaining weight, and a distorted body self-perception. Eating disorders are illnesses that exhibit themselves into unhealthy eating patterns. Most people think of teenage girls trying to imitate famous models when someone mentions eating disorders- but they are extremely more dangerous and serious than many of these people understand. Eating disorders can include starving oneself (anorexia), eating then vomiting (bulimia), binge eating and compulsive eating. As with many mental illnesses, such eating disorders can be triggered by significant emotional distress or lack of self-worth. Of all the mental illnesses eating disorders can be some of the most physically damaging to the sufferer.
Behaviors Associated with Anorexia
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by a relentless pursuit of thinness and unwillingness to maintain a normal or healthy weight. A distortion of body image and intense almost phobic fear of gaining weight, as well as extremely disturbed eating behavior. Anorexic people often see themselves as “fat” even if the person is severely underweight. A point is reached in dieting when genetic and physiological factors kick in, and food restriction behaviors become compulsive and very difficult to stop. These compulsive behaviors include restricted diet choices, excessive exercise, induced vomiting and purgation, and use of appetite suppressants and diuretics (Engel, B., Reiss, N. S., & Dombeck, M., 2007). An anorexic often has feelings of low self-esteem and an extreme fear of rejection. They may have a twisted self-image and seek to change this. The anorexic person’s mood, behavior and personality can also be affected. A distorted self-image can cause mood disorders such as depression. Also cause the deterioration of social life and relationships. According to the National Eating Disorder Association (2015), “25% of girls 12-18 years old were reported to be engaged in problematic food and weight behavior” and in men and boys, according to the website nimh.nih.gov, “one in four preadolescent cases of Anorexia occurs in boys, and binge-eating disorder affects females and males about equally”. While the causes aren’t concise, some contributions can be cultural, personal characteristics, stress events or life changes, family, peers, and media (Comer, 2014).
The Range of Impairment for Anorexia
There are three kinds of aspects that deal with the development of an eating disorder; behavioral, mental, and physical. The National Eating Disorder Association explains the more we focus on thoughts and feelings of our weight and how we look the more we may be missing out on life overall. When we focus on weight and body image, it can become an obsession, which can contribute to emotional and physical issues. The mental aspect of an eating disorder focuses on the opinion of yourself or your self- esteem. Self-esteem and body image both go hand in hand when it comes to one’s body.
Eating disorders not only deal with the mental and behavioral aspects, but those of physical as well can contribute. Anorexia can be very taxing to one’s overall health. It can lead to many complications both medical/physical and psychological. At its worst anorexia can be fatal (MayoClinic, 2015). Death can sometimes occur suddenly and not always due to being underweight. It can be due to some complications caused by the disorder. These include slow heart rate or imbalance of electrolytes; minerals in the body that help keep body fluids balanced (MayoClinic, 2014). Other serious medical complications include anemia, bone loss, loss of hair from scalp and hands and feet become cold and blue. If malnourishment in a person is severe enough, every organ in body will be affected. However, the official diagnosis of anorexia nervosa in females requires the absence of menstruation (amenorrhea) (Comer, 2014).
Aside from medical problems, psychological problems do arise or are sometimes a risk factor in the development of anorexia. These psychological problems are depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and insomnia (Comer, 2014). Some of the people struggling with anorexia also struggle with substance abuse. Many cases of anorexia also exhibit obsessive-compulsive tendencies which allows them to stick to strict and rigid rules about their diet, eating and the preparing of their food. Commonly people with anorexia are perfectionists which is a characteristic exhibited in early stages of this disorder (Comer, 2014)
A study by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reported that, “The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is twelve times higher than the death rate associated with all causes of death for females 15-24 years old” (About eating disorders, n.d.). Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder in which results in thinness through starvation. It has the highest mortality rate of any psychological disorder, although we know little about the causes of this disorder. Generally, the standard cause of death includes both effects of starvation and suicide. This is disorder is also known as a visible eating disorder, because most are noticeably thin, although some hide their thinness with big clothes or wearing layers. During this time this individual is not maintaining a normal or healthy weight for their age, height, or gender. Anorexia nervosa tends to have two forms first being starvation or restricting. These individuals reduce their caloric intake and increase physical activity to maintain an abnormally low weight. When your body goes into starvation mode, it can alter your body. The second form is either binge eating, purging, or can be both. When anorexia nervosa is in its early stage these behaviors were seen in over half of the individuals. During anorexia nervosa a person can come to weigh less than 85% of the ideal body weight. Anorexia tends to occur during early adolescence or 10-12 years old (About eating disorders, n.d.).
The Implications of Anorexia on Society
The population that is most affected by eating disorders is females between the ages of 14 and 18 (Comer, 2014). For most adolescents they tend to compare themselves to others and they can develop an eating disorder because of this aspect. Some adolescents can develop an eating disorder from a stressful event such as; teasing, ransition from middle school to high school, or a more traumatic event like rape. Families can even contribute to a teen developing an eating disorder. If parents are fighting a lot or may be considering divorce, this can be stressful and some adolescents deal with it by not eating or induce vomiting as a means to obtain control over their parents in the household or gain back the attention. If the adolescent seems to feel like their life is spiraling out of control, they may feel like an eating disorder is a way to gain that control back. According to some studies conducted across countries eating disorders can be influenced by genetic factors.
One of the major contributors to eating disorders is society’s obsession with thinness. The pressure the media puts on young girls and women to be thin in order to be beautiful, has a lot of impact on the development of eating disorders. Success and worth are often linked to being thin (MayoClinic, 2015). According to the National Eating Disorder Association, we develop these ideas, beliefs, and attitudes about what is acceptable according to our culture. To put this into perspective if our culture says your beautiful when you skinny, then some people believe that if they’re not skinny, they aren’t beautiful. Adolescence is tough; the constant pressures to fit into what society views as the norm can be very overwhelming. Though eating disorders are primarily seen in females due to society’s emphasis on thinness in women, males often feel the pressures of society to look a certain way. Men can develop a different type of eating disorder when they are viewed by others or themselves as too thin or scrawny. These men aspire to look like bodybuilders and develop muscle dysmorphobia. The strive for the “perfect” body and go to great lengths to do so. They lift heavy weights excessively and abuse steroids (Comer, 2014). It can be tough at any age and gender to fit in and meet society’s impossible standards.
The media also plays a role in the cultural and societal acceptance. A couple of examples that are very common are models and movie stars. Most often models are in every magazine, on every billboard, and in most commercials. Even television shows like Gossip Girl, give children at a young age what the idea of “beautiful” is (Comer, 2014). Most movie stars aren’t overweight, which generally can contribute to both males and females being self-conscious about what the ideal appearance should be.
Treatment Options for Anorexia
Treatment plans of Anorexia nervosa often depend on the individual’s needs. Treatment is a team approach. Mental health providers and dietitians provide therapy, supportive nursing care, nutrition education, and a high-calorie diet (Comer, 2014). The initial aim of treatment for anorexia will be to increase weight to a healthy level. In some cases, patients are hospitalized due to the severity of their health, and may receive involuntary treatment under mental health legislation (MayoClinic, 2015). In most cases you will probably find that sufferers are treated as outpatients, and will have appointments and therapy sessions with physicians, psychiatrists and psychologists. Treatment may also include techniques used for depression, as anorexia is often accompanied by it (Comer, 2014). Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) has been used increasingly in recent years. It is a very directive and time-limited therapy. The therapist and patient work together to identify irrational beliefs and illogical thinking patterns associated with body image, weight, food, and perfectionism (ANAD.org, 2014). People being treated for anorexia will need assistance in developing new patterns of thought process in their eating patterns. The earlier detected the less treatment necessary. Depending on the individual and the amount of time they have had the eating disorder; treatment can take a short or long period of time. Each person varies in the recovering process of the disorder. According to the National
Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, “Only 1 in 10 men and women with eating disorders receive treatment. Only 35% of people that receive that treatment for eating disorders get treatment at a specialized facility for eating disorders.”
In Conclusion, media and social pressure cause people to have harmful eating disorders, such as Anorexia Nervosa. This disorder is not something that should be taking loosely, because it destroys ones physical and mental health. Similarly, it can lead to illness and even death. There are more treatment options and ways to get help. As time goes on we will hopefully be able to prevent Anorexia and help cure it before it gets too serious.
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Comer, J.R. (2014) Fundamentals of abnormal psychology. 7th edition. NY,NY. Worth Publishers. Retrieved from University of Phoenix database.
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