Nervosa, one of the most common eating disorders, is a mental health condition
that restricts the amount of food a person eats because they see themselves as
overweight even though in reality their weight is so low that their health is
in danger. Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa are such a major issue in
today’s society due to the stereotypical views of men and women. Anorexia
nervosa usually starts developing around the ages of 16 to 17 years old. The National
Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders states that
approximately eight million people in the U.S suffer from Anorexia Nervosa,
bulimia and related eating disorders. This illness affects several people
because society drives them to be self-conscious about their bodies. Many girls
and women are affected by this because they are afraid of being fat.
Types of Anorexia Nervosa
A person that suffers from anorexia nervosa
has a distorted perspective of their body and may have a dread of putting on
Their distraction with nourishment and
weight may turn into a fixation that extremely influences what and how they
eat. They will make extreme rules and limitations to their diets.
There are 2 major types of anorexia
nervosa. Both of these types display similar symptoms such as abnormal eating
and fear of weight gain.
The 2 major types are:
1. Restrictive type: People with this type of anorexia will set severe
restrictions on the amount and type of food they eat. This includes fasting,
counting calories, skipping meals and sometimes excessive exercise.
eating/ purging type: People with this type of anorexia also
place restriction on their foods. But this type is accompanied by binge eating
or purging. Binge eating is when a person eats a large amount of food in a
short period of time. This person then gets rid of this food by purging.
Purging is accomplished by vomiting or using laxatives and diuretics. Laxative
is a drug that loosens stools and increases bowel movement. Diuretics, also
known as water pills, are drugs that help your kidney get rid of extra water
and salt from your body through urinating.
Causes and Effects of Anorexia Nervosa
precise causes of anorexia nervosa are not known. As with bulimia, addiction
and other eating disorders, anorexia nervosa entails complex interactions among
biological, social and psychological factors.
person with a parent or sibling that suffers from an eating disorder is at
higher risk at suffering from an eating disorder themselves.
examples distinguished in anorexics are:
self-esteem, which may have been caused by experiences of childhood trauma.
levels of serotonin, one of the brain chemicals involved in depression.
Society is also one of the biggest causes
of eating disorders. Society has a tendency to drive teenagers to self-consciousness
due to the constant stream of social media reinforcing thinness as an ideal
body image for girls. Magazines, billboards and televisions are packed with
photos of unrealistically slim models, athletes, actresses and actors.
effect anorexia nervosa has on the body is very damaging. Anorexia affects the
mind and the body. Because of the lack of the right nutrients and calories
needed for the body to function, the body starts to wear down gradually. With
time organs may stop working, and if that’s not treated quickly it may lead to
of the effects of anorexia nervosa are:
of connection to faith or religion
from family and friends
withdrawal from school
of major body systems
to conceive children)
will often stop having their menstrual cycles
to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders “5-10%
of anorexics die within 10 years after contracting the disease; 18-20% of
anorexics will be dead after 20 years and only 30-40% ever fully recover”
The Signs and Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa
The chance at recovering from an eating
disorder increases the earlier the eating disorder is detected. Consequently,
it is crucial to be privy to some of the warning signs and symptoms of an
1. Physical signs:
cold all the time
problems such as cavities and tooth sensitivities
hair on body (lanugo)
2. Emotional and Behavioral signs:
of gaining weight
or laxative abuse after eating.
belief that they are fat even though they are not.
Difference between Dieting and Anorexia Nervosa
While both dieters and those with anorexia
are worried about losing weight, that’s where the similarities end. There are
major differences among the two, from their goals, eating habits and exercising
behaviors. The goals of a diet would probably include the following:
diseases such as diabetes
muscle tone and strength
to reduce intake of unhealthy food
While these goals are for those who are
dieting, anorexics only want to lose weight. They are not concerned with their
health, they just want to be thin. Their motive is often connected to an
unhealthy body image.
A person on a healthy diet monitors caloric
intake on the other hand anorexics simply do not eat, they see every calorie as
The term anorexia nervosa was first
establishes by Sir William Gull in 1873. At first, he introduced the condition
as Aspepsia hysterica, then to Anorexia hysterica and then to Anorexia nervosa.
Miss A Miss B
In 1873, Sir William Gull published his original work “Anorexia Nervosa(Apepsia Hysterica, Anorexia Hysterica)”,
in which he talks about the three cases of Miss A, Miss B, and a third unnamed
case. And in 1887, he recorded the case of Miss k, which was his last medical
paper to be published. Sir William Gull observed that slow pulse and breathing
seemed to be common factors in all the cases he had observed.
In some cases, treatment
includes seeing a doctor and having regular therapy sessions. It has been shown
that family based treatments are more successful than individual therapy
sessions for people that suffer from anorexia nervosa. A hospital stay is
needed for anorexics that are extremely underweight. Diet is the most important
element to work on in people with anorexia nervosa. Starting slow with the
calories, and increasing at a measured pace.
Point of view of a former
“I spent a year living in hospital, fighting
my eating disorder. It was by far the hardest year of my life, but without
it I would not be here anymore. It was hard work, and every meal was a battle.
I would sit there: a plate of food placed in front of me, and be told I
had 30 minutes to eat it. With tears streaming down my face I felt completely
lost at the thought of eating, but after the first few meals, things did get
easier. I began to concentrate on what I wanted from life; a family, to travel;
university; when I had bad days I would concentrate on this. I began to realize
that if I ate a meal, the nurses, and my family wouldn’t automatically think I
was okay. I began to talk about things, about how I felt after a meal and it
did get easier. My family and friends began to understand that having
anorexia is not just a physical thing and about putting on weight but there is
so much more to recovery.” (Hope, 2015)
In conclusion, anorexia
nervosa greatly impacts all which are touched by it. Not only does the person
who suffers from it struggle, but also the anorexic’s relatives. The most
important thing that someone can do for a person that suffers from this eating
disorder is to help them through it and seek medical attention. Support from
family and friends make it better and easier for the anorexic to get through the
If someone you know has
anorexia, please encourage them to get help to treat their eating disorder. You
can also contact the National Eating Disorders Association helpline for
support, resources and treatment options for yourself or a loved one.