Axia College of University of Phoenix
July 17, 2010
Anorexia nervosa is a mental illness whose main characteristic is extreme abnormalities in the afflicted individual’s eating habits. The individual suffering from anorexia nervosa refuses to consume a sufficient amount of nourishment to maintain the minimum weight considered normal for his or her height and age. Insufficient weight along with an extreme fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of his or her body and shape are all characteristics of anorexia. Anorexia can have dangerous psychological and behavioral effects on all aspects of an ...view middle of the document...
A binge-eating/purging type anorexic is the term for the individual who does not resort to binging and purging. (American Psychiatric Association, 2009).
Evidence proves people have been suffering from the mental illness known as anorexia nervosa as well as other eating disorders for hundreds of years. This evidence shows these eating disorders are not new illnesses. In 1903, Pierre Janet wrote of four patients who displayed weight phobia characteristics, one of the most famous of these patients is a woman named Nadia (Habermas, 2005). Nadia conveyed, in her own words, her need to consume only vinegar, tea, and soup for fear of gaining weight. Nadia spent numerous hours reading and thinking about food though denying herself the comfort of food and nutrition which clearly showed an obsession with food. Janet while working with Nadia proceeds to write his thoughts about her disorder indicating “her refusal of food to be consequence of idea, a delusion” (Habermas, 2005). Additionally, Janet conveys Nadia’s fears to originate from her view of having a bloated figure or overstuffed appearance due to her extreme fear of being overweight like her mother (Habermas, 2005). Janet’s work with his patients provided insight indicating that anorexia nervosa has been a problem for at least a thousand years, maybe even longer.
While Janet’s study of his patients offers awareness into the continuing presence of the illness, more present studies indicate the prevalence of anorexia nervosa to have steadily increased over time. A distinct picture is provided by one such study which examined cases during the time periods from 1958 to 1962, 1968 to 1972 and 1978 to 1982. The occurrence of anorexia nervosa patients admitted for treatment more than quadrupled during this time (George et al., 1987). This increase can possibly be attributed to the continuous lack of understanding regarding the underlying cause of this illness. Theory insinuated the cause of anorexia nervosa to be organic even though the illness was originally thought to be primarily a psychological disorder. In current times the origin of the disorder has reverted back to psychological in nature (George et al., 1987).
Two neurotransmitters struggle concerning regulation in the presence of eating disorders. Individuals afflicted with anorexia nervosa are commonly plagued with unregulated dopamine levels. Dopamine assists in regulating thought processes as well as mood and behavior. Furthermore dopamine assists in regulating appetite and eating patterns. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter which is responsible for regulating feeding, the awareness of pain, motor activity, sexual behaviors, temperature regulation in the body and sleeping cycles is also associated with anorexia nervosa (Mulvihill et al., 2006). Various symptoms and signs become apparent when these regulatory actions become impaired in anorexia nervosa cases.
The urgency of the illness stems from the overabundance of...