Anorexia nervosa literally means "nervous-induced lack of appetite." However, this statement is a bit of a misnomer, as a lack of appetite isn't the primary problem or even true in all cases. An overwhelming dread of gaining weight or getting fat, combined with a failure to maintain even moderately low body weight, is at the core of anorexia nervosa.
This article provided insight into types, causes, risk factors, and treatment/management options of Anorexia Nervosa.
This article provides insight into the epidemiology, etiology, and management options for Anorexia Nervosa.
What is Anorexia Nervosa?
Although we may conceive of anorexia nervosa as a modern affliction, it has been around for millennia. Early religious literature contains descriptions of excessive fasting that were most likely indications of anorexia nervosa (Vandereycken, 2002). Richard Morton reported two patients, an 18-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy, who suffered from a "nervous consumption" that resulted in body tissue wasting in the oldest known medical account of anorexia nervosa, in 1689. The female patient died as a result of her refusal to receive treatment. It wasn't until 1873 that the condition was given its current name.
Anorexia Nervosa has two types: the restricting type and the binge-eating/purging type. The key distinction between these two kinds is how patients maintain their extremely low weight. The restrictive type makes every attempt to keep the amount of food consumed to a minimum. Caloric intake is strictly regulated. In the company of others, patients frequently try to avoid eating. They may eat very slowly at the table, chop their food into very small pieces, or dispose of food in a hidden manner (Beaumont, 2002).
For some patients with anorexia nervosa, severe calorie restriction is not viable. Patients with binge-eating/purging anorexia nervosa differ from those with restrictive anorexia nervosa in that they binge, purge, or both. A binge is an episode of out-of-control consumption of food far in excess of what most people would consume in the same period of time and under the same conditions. These binges may be followed by attempts to purge or remove from their bodies, the food consumed by self-induced vomiting or the abuse of laxatives, diuretics, and enemas. Excessive exercise or fasting are two other compensatory habits that do not entail purging. However, even purging does not prevent the absorption of all calories from food.
What are the causal factors?
In addition to environmental influences, studies show that physiological elements play a role in the development of anorexia nervosa. Educational attainment, neuroticism, and schizophrenia all have genetic links. Anorexia nervosa patients' brain function and structure are disturbed. There are deficiencies in the neurochemicals within the brain, such as dopamine (eating behaviour and reward) and serotonin (impulse control and neuroticism), as well as differential corticolimbic system activation (appetite and fear) and frontostriatal circuit activity (habitual behaviors). Major depressive disorder and generalised anxiety disorder are common comorbid mental diseases in patients.
Many jobs rely on a person's weight for success. Models and performers portray difficult-to-achieve thinness that is heightened by make-up and photographic manipulations. Ballet dancers, long-distance runners, and martial artists are all under pressure to maintain low body weights in order to outperform their opponents. Diet secrets and weight loss tips are heavily promoted in the media. Thin body types are associated with improved self-esteem in populations such as maturing girls, and weight loss is linked to self-control.
Who is at Risk?
Females are more likely than guys to suffer from anorexia nervosa. The onset is usually between late adolescence and early adulthood. Regardless of culture, ethnicity, or colour, the lifetime prevalence is 0.3 percent to 1% (European studies have shown a prevalence of 2 percent to 4%). Childhood obesity, female sex, mood disorders, personality characteristics (impulsivity and perfectionism), and sexual abuse are all risk factors for eating disorders.
How does Anorexia Nervosa affect people?
Many people with anorexia nervosa deny having a problem, even though they appear pain-fully thin or even emaciated. They may, in fact, learn to feel fulfilled as a result of their weight loss. Despite this satisfaction from weight loss, they may have mixed feelings regarding their weight. Wearing baggy clothes or carrying hidden hefty objects to hide their thinness may be attempted when being measured by others. Individuals with anorexia nervosa may even consume significant amounts of water to temporarily raise their weight.
The current treatment guidelines weight restoration with a minimally restrictive treatment plan. Outpatient treatment usually involves a team of healthcare providers, which entails medical monitoring, psychological support, and nutritionists' insights for a holistic recovery. When weight is extremely low (e.g., less than 75% of optimum body weight), or when there seems to be drastic weight loss or medical indicators of malnutrition, such as major bradycardia, hypotension, hypothermia, or other symptoms, hospital-based treatments may be sought.
Anorexia nervosa is a mysterious disease that is typically difficult to cure and can be fatal, despite the fact that it has been recognised for decades. The current treatment strategy comprises a thorough medical evaluation, continued medical and weight monitoring, and adaptive behavioral-oriented treatment aiming at restoring normal weight and eating habits. For younger individuals, family support has proven to be promising in recovery.
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A friendly reminder: We've done our research, but you should too! Check our sources against your own and always exercise sound judgment.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1857759/ https://www.statpearls.com/ArticleLibrary/viewarticle/17626 https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ajp.2007.07071151 Butcher, J. N., Mineka, S., Hooley, J. M. (2013). Abnormal Psychology. Pearson. https://jeatdisord.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40337-015-0040-8 https://jeatdisord.biomedcentral.com/articles
About the Author
Content Writer for The Hope Project (Delhi, India)
Ishika Jain is a student of Psychology honors from the University of Delhi, armed with hands-on knowledge in research, public health, and health tech. She has worked in the field of global mental health, community research, and intervention, assisting in science communication and research writing. She has a keen interest in Neuropsychology, with a blend of neuroscience, philosophy, and interpersonal contact.