Anorexia Nervosa

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Eating disorders are devastating behavioral maladies brought on by a complex interplay of factors, which may include emotional and personality disorder, family pressure, a possible genetic or biological susceptibility and a culture in which there is an over abundance of food and an obsession with thinness. Eating disorders are generally characterized as bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa and eating disorders not other wise specified. According to the World of Psychology anorexia is defined as " an eating disorder characterized by an overwhelming, irrational fear of being fat, compulsive dieting to the point of self starvation and excessive weight loss."(World of Psychology Page 317). There are some causes, symptoms, complications and treatment of anorexia nervosa. There is no single cause for the eating disorder anorexia but a number of factors including emotional disorders and cultural influences. Researchers have shown that emotional disorders such as depression collaborate in causing anorexia nervosa. This is because most anorexic patients have been found to have abnormal levels of certain neurotransmitters particularly serotonin, that are associated with depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. According to a research conducted by Dr. John .E. Godine of Harvard Medical School " studies are finding that low blood levels of amino acid tryptophan, a component in food that is essential to the production of serotonin, can produce depression and may also contribute to anorexia nervosa" (Psychology Today Page 17, May 97). Researches have also shown that changes in seasons affects both depression and eating disorders and also that onset of anorexia appears to peak in May, which is also a peak month for suicide. Anxiety disorders are also very common with anorexia. Phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) usually precede the onset of the eating disorder, while panic disorder tends to follow. Studies have shown that people with anorexia are especially prone to obsessive-compulsive disorder. Cultural influences can also cause anorexia as can be seen in most western cultures. The social pressures of western cultures certainly play a major role in triggering eating disorders such as anorexia. On the other hand, advertisers heavily market weight reductions programs and present anorexic young models as the paradigm of sexual desirability and on the other hand again, the media floods the public with ads for junk food. According to the World of Psychology "over the past quarter century, the 'ideal' female figure as portrayed in the media and by fashion and entertainment industries, has become even thinner, often to the point of emancipation"(World of Psychology Page 317).

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