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Anorexia - Essay Example

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Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that affects approximately one percent of female population in the U.K. and is often referred to as "the most fatal of psychiatric illnesses" (Lask and Bryant-Waugh, 2000: 97). This disorder turns people neurotically anxious to reduce body weight or maintain it at an abnormally low level…
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Download file to see previous pages The highest prevalence of anorexia is normally found in female population aged 15 - 30 girls (Goldman, 1996; Gordon, 2000). However, youth under 15 and women above age 30 may suffer from this disorder too: the oldest anorectic patient reported in the literature is a woman of 68 without any prior history of eating disorders (Dally, 1984). Anorexia also occurs in male population: estimated 10 to 15 percent of people with anorexia are men. The highest occurrence of anorexia among males is reported in the age group of young adolescents from 7 to 14 years: nearly 25 percent of anorexia cases in this age group are boys (Herman-Giddens et al., 1997).
Anorexia nervosa negatively impacts mental and physiological health. Similarly to other eating disorders, anorexia frequently co-occurs with depression, substance abuse and anxiety disorders (APA, 2000). Physiologically anorexia nervosa causes a wide range of health complications some of which - cardiovascular conditions and kidney failure - are life threatening: this disorder is associated with a 5.6 percent mortality rate, which is "the highest among all psychiatric conditions" (Misra et al, 2004:1575). Anorexia nervosa typically causes "loss of subcutaneous fat tissue, orthostatic hypotension, bradycardia, impaired menstrual function, hair loss, and hypothermia" (Yager and Andersen, 2005: 1481), and stimulates serious changes in functioning of organism, namely in hematologic aspect and bone metabolism (Misra et al, 2004).
The typical symptoms of anorexia nervosa have been well studied. The disorder is often associated with 'loss of appetite due to nerves' (Lask and Bryant-Waugh, 2000) though such association is not fully correct. Loss of appetite may occur only at the late stages of starvation, while at the early and middle stages people suppress their appetite. Anorexia nervosa is characterised by the following symptoms:
Refusal to maintain body weight at or above a minimal normal weight for age and height (e.g., a weight loss resulting in maintenance of body weight at less than 85 percent of the expected weight or failure to make the expected weight gain during the period of growth, resulting in a body weight of less than 85 percent of the expected weight);
Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though underweight;
Disturbance in the way in which one's body weight or shape is experienced, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation, or denial of the seriousness of the current low body weight;
Among postmenarchal girls and women, amenorrhoea (the absence of at least three consecutive menstrual cycles) (DSM-IV-TR, 2000: 46);
The aetiology of anorexia nervosa has been studied less well than its symptoms and consequences: the origins of this disease are not fully understood at present (Tozzi et al, 2003). Destructive influence of family and society, genetic (inherited) factors, brain dysfunction, and neurotransmitter levels imbalances are reported to be on the list of the causes, yet none of these factors have been proved to play the key role in ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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