Table of Contents
- What is Anorexia?
- Causes and Factors
- Psychological and Mental Illness Linked to Anorexia Nervosa
- Symptoms and Effects
- Personality traits and genetics
The girl stared at her disoreded figure in the mirror not being able to recognize who she was. Even through all the pain and hungriness she still didn’t believe she looked like the thin girls in the magazine. Her relationships and life style were ruined as the disease took control of her life. Anorexia is the deadliest mental disease 20% of people that suffer from this disease die from complications including suicide and heart problems. Anorexia nervosa is a complex physical and mental eating disorder that can be life threatening.
What is Anorexia?
Most people have a misconception of this disease thinking it only effects in thin or underweight people but Eating Disorders can affect anyone. Anorexia nervosa is most found in women and adolescent only 10-15% who are diagnosed are males. Anorexia nervosa is a complex eating disorder that affects the physical and mental health. An individual restricts their food intake making the person’s body severely underweight these abnormal eating patterns often is due to trying deal with emotional distress. When the the person is not eating the nutrients it needs the body slows down all of its functions to conserve energy and will escalate to consuming the tissue and organs that can quickly lead to death. It will leave devastating effects and some that might not be irreversible. It can be caused by many factors from environmental conditions and other mental health conditions may contribute into developing this disease.(mayo clinic)
Causes and Factors
Understanding where these behaviors come from is very important if looking for a solution to recover. In most cases there is be more than one factor contributing such as: environmental, physiological and other mental health illness genetics, unresolved trauma, or even just severe stress.
In today’s society people derive their body images from our many media sources; expecting other people to do or look the same way. Someone may try to reach or create a unrealistic body image that is influenced by magazines, TV, and social media. These portray that you must be thin or look a certain way to be beautiful. Young women exposed to this to this obsession about a certain body shape or weight in the media may go to extreme measures to look that way, feel liked or accepted and/or be ashamed that their body isn’t “perfect.”
Psychological and Mental Illness Linked to Anorexia Nervosa
Eating disorders often go hand in hand with mental health illnesses. “About half of anorexia patients have comorbid anxiety disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder and social phobia”. (anad.org) People affected by this disease tend to have low self esteem/ low self worth; disturbed of their body shape or weight. Unresolved trauma like physical or sexual abuse may lead to dissatisfaction of one’s body. It can result into self destructive behaviors like self mutilation, self harm, suicidal thoughts or acts. Anorexia may be a way to deal with painful emotions and gives you something to occupy with instead of dealing with problems they may be trying to avoid.(mirror-mirror) It can ruin relationships and cause lack of interest in something one may normally love doing.
Symptoms and Effects
When enduring a disease like this for a certain amount of time, someone will experience physical symptoms from not getting the nutrients, minerals, and vitamins the body needs to survive and function correctly. Without food, our brains cannot think properly causing negative thoughts to occur more often than positive thoughts.
Long Term Effects
The longer anorexia goes without treatment it can affect your body that can leave devastating health issues through the whole body. Heart disease is caused by slowing the rate of the heart beat. the lack of minerals needed for a healthy and normal heart beat can slow the rate to conserve energy In women, their menstruation periods will lessen and may even be gone for a few months. The brain is damaged when it doesn’t have nutrients; causing seizures, disordered thinking, numbness or tingling through the body.
Osteopenia is also common in anorexia. Osteopenia is a severe disorder due to lack calcium. Intake of calcium is critical in adolescents because it’s when the body is trying to grow; stunting their growth. At six months, the disease results in complications that may be irreversible effects.
Personality traits and genetics
Supporting Point Is your child a “picky eater”? Studies show this may develop into an eating disorder as they grow into their adolescence.
The sooner someone receives treatment for this eating disorder the better, as anorexia can lead to irreversible health conditions fast.
Levels of Treatments
The level of treatments used by hospitals depends on the severity of the anorexia and associated conditions. Outpatient treatment is the least restrictive. It is more affordable than higher levels of treatment. Outpatient treatment can be professional help a few times a week. This might include a therapist or nutritionist and a doctor. Intensive outpatient for men and women who need more support but still need to do other activities like school or work would include therapists, a dietitian, group therapy, and individual therapy around 3-5 times a week.
Residential treatment is 24 hour hospitalization with monitoring of health conditions. Residential treatment helps patients focus on only their physical and mental health without stress of daily life activities. Then once stable according to hospital standards they can discharge. Inpatient is where you go to a treatment center restricting many things and you can focus on your eating disorder and be around people who may be going through the same thing until you are stable and have a medical plan to be discharged.(Eating Disorder Hope)
In diagnosing anorexia there must be many exams. From physical exams to mental health assessments, blood tests and BMI is to measure bone density. To look at if your underweight, hospitals use a BMI calculator that considers your age, height, and weight. Someone may go through a series of questions asking about there food intake, moods, how often they do certain things to look at behaviors that portray an eating disorder.
In conclusion, anorexia nervosa is a eating disorder that’s characterized by mental illness. The resulting physical conditions are devastating and can sadly lead to death from health complications. A series of factors can contribute to developing this disease from biological to environmental factors; it can affect anyone. Educating our society and encouraging all body shapes and weight can possibly reduce the frequency it affects young men and women. Full recovery is dependent upon understanding a healthy body and proper nutrition. Professional treatment would also address psychological causes underlying this disease.