Eating Disorders: Anorexia Nervosa

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Abstract

Eating disorders occur due to the distortions in the eating behavior of an individual. The disturbances in one’s eating behavior may lead to the unhealthy ways of eating with either extreme or minimal food intake. Eating disorders occur due to the different reasons, such as perceptions about body weight or worrying that one might harm the body after engaging into the certain dietary behavior. The disorders may lead to the dietary requirements that an individual fails to meet or excessive unhealthy foods. The paper will choose one of the eating disorders, Anorexia Nervosa. It will discuss the signs and symptoms, causes, effects, as well as possible treatments. The paper will also choose a popular individual, who has suffered from Anorexia Nervosa, and will describe the way they fought the illness. Eating disorders are common for both men and women, arising especially from the worries about body shape and size. They are common when an individual’s thoughts compromise their eating behavior leading to urges to eat less or more depending on one’s feelings or perceptions.

Introduction

Anorexia Nervosa has several effects to an individual. The individuals engage into the behavior that limits their food intake up to the levels that reduce their weight to the indictors that are lower than the required for their age. The body mass index lowers to the levels that are unhealthy to maintain general metabolism. The disorder is common especially in girls and women. They adopt dieting behavior to maintain a thin body that reduces their weight significantly to the levels that they perceive as ideal. The ideas that anorexic people pursue are culturally constructed as superior. For men, anorexia starts in pursuit of masculine physiques. Men limit their diets and exercise excessively limiting their food intake levels. Scientists have identified that anorexia is common for females despite the age brackets. Females tend to limit their diets, because they feel that maintaining a thin body is an achievement in attractiveness. However, studies show that the number of males and females suffering from anorexia in adolescent stages are equal. The number of males and females suffering from the disorder as teenagers are equal. Individuals suffering from anorexia cannot maintain healthy and normal body weight. They are also losing a lot of weight within a short time in order to achieve a required physique. Scientific research also shows that anorexic people are underweight and fear adding more weight. The dietary behavior they consider healthy leads to starvation or malnourishment (Stark, 2008).

Anorexia also has significant effects on one’s self-esteem. Anorexic patients also pay attention to their body image. They believe that their weight reduces their self-worth and are vigilant on the dietary requirements. They see overweight people as social rejects. They are dangerously overweight to the point that they cannot maintain the general body energy requirements. The individuals also focus on the specific body parts such as buttocks, abdomen, and thighs. There are several sub-types of the disorder that require medical attention. One of the main subtypes is the restricting Anorexia. The subtype involves having several restrictions on the types of food the individuals eat. They avoid several foods such as fats and carbohydrates with the belief that the foods lead to extra body weight. The individuals are also obsessed with counting calories in every meal. They also skip important meals of the day such as lunches with the belief that the meal contributes significantly to adding weight. Restricting Anorexia also involves rigidity in food types and obsession in setting dietary rules eating. For example, the individuals may eat foods that have one color. The sub-type can also lead to excessive exercising. Purging anorexia is also one of the major types of Anorexia. It involves purging behavior with misuse of drugs such as enemas, laxatives and diuretics, as well as appetite suppressants. Purging involves engaging in binge eating, varying the eating habits frequently. The individuals may eat unregularly taking a lot of food at specific periods without control. The two subtypes requires awareness about its symptoms and signs so that individuals may can seek medical attention (Stark 2008).

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Anorexics display several physical conditions such as weight loss. The individual may also feel dizzy or even faint due to dietary requirements. In women and young girls, Anorexia may be accompanied by disturbance in the menstrual cycle. The disorder is also associated with loss of libido for both men and women. Anorexia also causes poor circulation in the body, leading to physical signs such as feeling cold even in warm weather. It also leads to lack of sleep and feelings of tiredness (Alman & Watson 2014). There are also other physical characteristics including feeling dizziness or fainting. Other signs involved with lack of enough food in the gut include constipation and bloat. Individuals also lose tolerance to food and have low energy as well as lethargy. Anorexics also develop facial changes such as sunken eyes and looking pale. Facial and body hair also appears fine. Anorexia is also accompanied by several psychological signs. The patient is often preoccupied with the shape of their body. They also worry about the food they eat as well as their weight. The obsessions are always accompanied by the inability to maintain specific body weight and height (Houtzager & De Vos 2014). Anorexia is also associated with intense fear of gaining more weight. The individuals are also irritable and anxious during meals or when discussions about diets arise. They may also exhibit anxiety and depression. Anorexics also tend to exhibit perfectionism with low self-esteem especially when their body weight changes frequently. They also find it difficult to concentrate in different activities and have reduced thinking capacity due to poor blood circulation in the brain. They also have rigidity in thinking by categorizing foods and diets as either bad or good. They have obsessions in categorizing foods with calories and have a body image viewing themselves as either underweight or overweight. They also have a distorted outlook towards other people by judging them using their weight. Anorexics are also sensitive to comments about their looks, weight, food and exercises. They are dissatisfied about their bodies and may tend to induce bodily harm to achieve the desired looks (Bulik & Berkman 2007).

There are several behavioral signs associated with Anorexia Nervosa that assist in determining the required treatments. One of main signs is exhibited in eating. Anorexics categorize food in terms of kilojoules or calories and may fast or avoid certain foods such as carbohydrates. They may also engage in excessive use of appetite suppressants, laxatives, diuretics and enema. They have obsessive behavior especially in weight and looks, leading t repetitive weighing, measuring their sizes or looking in the mirror. Binge eating is also common with alienation during meal times. Anorexics tend to be secretive about eating and may spend more time alone thinking about their looks. They also tend to have compulsive exercising, such as engaging in exercising while sick or during bad weather. They also engage in repetitive rituals especially during meals times such as eating at specific times of the day or becoming vegetarians to avoid specific diets. In severe conditions, Anorexics have attempted to commit suicide or inflict bodily harm. There are several risks that are associated with Anorexia. One of the risks is compromising the immune system due to dietary requirements. Anorexia may also cause iron deficiency leading to Anemia. Women and small girls may lose or have disturbances in the menstrual cycle. The loss of libido leads to infertility in both men and women. Anemia may also lead to kidney failure and Osteoporosis, which involves the fragility of bones and easy fractures. There are also other severe conditions such as cardiac arrests and abnormalities that may lead to death (Loeb & Le Grange 2009).

Specific treatments require specific treatments according to individual psychological conditions. Psychological therapy is one of the most common treatments especially with early stages of Anorexia. The treatment is aimed at encouraging an individual to gain weight and eat normally. It is also common for medical experts to use physical recovery as a form of treatment, encouraging exercises in regular conditions and discouraging obsessive behavior. Most Anorexic patients are treated on an outpatient basis, with proper monitoring and psychological treatments from specialists visiting them at home to look into their behavior (Scime & Cook-Cottone 2008). There are specialists in eating disorders, with medical experts specializing in medicines to counter appetite suppressants, diuretics, enemas and laxatives. Treatments may involve cognitive behavioral therapy, analytic therapy, ego-oriented and focal-psychodynamic therapy. Psychologists also encourage family and friends to intervene positively in fighting Anorexia Nervosa and encouraging patients to eat healthily. Psychologists also encourage people interacting with patients to utilize interpersonal skills while intervening Anorexic behavior. There are several people that have struggled with Anorexia Nervosa and recovered. One of the celebrities is Demetria Devonne, well known as Demi Lovato. She is an American Actress, songwriter and Singer. She confessed that as a teenager, she engaged in Anorexic behavior, fearing that she might add weight and lose her attractiveness. The psychological instability made her engage in drug abuse, ending up in a rehabilitation facility. She was able to resume her music career with the right medical and interpersonal interventions (Loeb & Le Grange 2009).

Conclusion

Anorexia Nervosa is one of the most common eating disorders affecting adolescents and adult women. They feel that a lot of food may increase lead to weight gain and lose the social accepted levels. Anorexia has several risks that range from loss of self-esteem to cardiac complications and even death. Medical experts point out that people should not view the disorder as a behavioral choice but rather as a medical condition. In severe cases, Anorexia is life-threatening making it one of the most common eating disorders. It is possible to recover from the illness even if the patient has been suffering for years. The recovery path is challenging and long, according to psychologists. However, using the right medical interventions and the appropriate support team, individuals have recovered successfully from Anorexia Nervosa. It is also possible to use treatments for recovery from the use of drugs that suppress one’s appetite. Patients should seek help from experts in order to recover successfully from the disorder. If a person suspects of suffering from Anorexia, they should seek medical attentions as soon as possible for easier recovery.

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