Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder, prevalent in Westernized societies, characterized by individuals who have a fear of weight gain. Dieting and over exercising are common with this disorder. While the causes of this disorder are not known, genes and hormones are thought to increase an individual’s risk in having this. According to PubMed Health, “risk factors for anorexia include: being more worried about, or paying more attention to, weight and shape, having an anxiety disorder as a child, having a negative self-image, having eating problems during infancy or early childhood, having certain social or cultural ideas about health and beauty, and trying to be perfect or overly focused on rules.” It usually begins during teen years, common in females, and is primarily seen in white women that are high achievers.
There are biological dimensions of anorexia nervosa that have to be present in order for it to be diagnosed properly. There needs to be an overall loss in bone strength, muscle, and body fat, sensitive to cold, dry mouth, depression, blotchy skin, skin covered with hair, and confused or slow thinking. Since you are not consuming enough nutrition, your body is feeding on itself, thus eating away at your fat, muscle, bones, and ultimately, your internal organs. Anorexia is a disease that slowly kills you, and mentally, most individuals have very difficult times coming back from it.
Culturally, thinness is preferred in Western societies and is considered ideal and beautiful. Dieting and exercising are the norm in our society and it is idealized that in order to have the perfect body, you must be thin. Advertisements, actors, actresses, singers, and models all prove this point in society, that if you are not thin, you are not good enough, and are unattractive by societies’ standards. This pushes individuals to go the extra step, to do whatever it takes, so that they can feel beautiful, which ultimately can lead to anorexia, and their death.
There are different tests that are available to be done to an individual, if others suspect them of having anorexia; some of these include albumin, bone density test, CBC, electrocardiogram, electrolytes, kidney functions tests, liver function tests, total protein, thyroid function tests, and urinalaysis.
Treatment for anorexia itself is a whole other process, since the person with the disorder needs to recognize that they actually have an illness. If the person does not think they have anorexia, they will deny they have an eating disorder, and will only enter treatment when their condition becomes serious. The ultimate goal of treatment is to have an individual return to a normal body weight and have regular eating habits. Different therapies that are available are cognitive behavior therapy, which is a form of talk therapy. These are available in groups, with the person’s family, or individually. Medications are available as well, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers. These can help treat depression and anxiety that goes with having anorexia, though there is no proof that it actually decreases an individual’s desire to loose weight.
PubMed Health. (2012, 02 13). Anorexia nervosa. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001401/