Anorexia nervosa (AN) a serious illness which negatively affects the body and the mind of its victims (Bulik et. Al,2005). The illness is a very common eating disorder which is universally linked to emaciation as well as a marked increase in the level of physical activity. Persons with Anorexia nervosa are not capable of maintaining a normal and healthy body weight. This is because most of them drop to about 85% of their normal body weight (Bulik et al., 2005). Despite the rise in cachesis, individuals having Anorexia nervosa (AN) are largely possessed about their body weight and largely remain dissatisfied with the largeness of their own bodies. They therefore tend to be engaged in activities and behaviors that are designed to increase weight loss. Anorexia nervosa (AN) victims usually place their focus of interest on their weight and shape. They also have their body esteem intertwined with their self-esteem. In females, amenorrhea is considered a diagnostic criterion. This criterion is however considered to be unreliable as a result of the frequency with which persons with Anorexia nervosa (AN) are made to take birth control pills so as to help in regulating their menses. The difference between individuals with Anorexia nervosa (AN) and those who do not menstruate is minimal. The personalities of persons suffering from Anorexia nervosa (AN) are; perfectionism, low self-esteem obsessionality as well as anxiety.
The high morbidity as well as mortality associated with Anorexia nervosa (AN) calls for a fast response in the development of its effective treatment (Bulik et al., 2005). Agras et al. (2004) highlighted the various obstacles that are associated with the research as well as the treatment of Anorexia Nervosa. Some of these include the relatively low prevalence and incidence, the general lack of consensus on the best interventions, the variable presentations which exists within the population of patients on the basis of age as well as illness factors, the high treatment costs as well as the complex interaction of the psychiatric as well as medical problems that are associated with the illness.
The Permanente Medical Group (2004) defined Anorexia nervosa as a psychological condition which causes sufferers to restrict food in an effort of losing weight. The behavior can get out of control and cause severe weight loss. Most sufferers have a rather distorted view of their own bodies as fat regardless of how thin they may be. The sufferers are usually very sensitive on their perceived fatness are very terrified of weight gain.
The common symptoms of the illness include;
Excessive weight loss within a very short time period
An usually interest on food as well as food rituals
Very little consumption of food
Obsession with exercise
Individuals with Anorexia nervosa have rather usually rituals such as the weighing of their food, cutting it into very small pieces as well as refusing to eat in the presence of other people.
It is rather uncommon for individuals with Anorexia nervosa to collect various recipes as well as prepare very elaborate meals for both family and friends without eating the food themselves.
II. Importance of Problem to Society
a. Extent of problem
In the U.S. alone, closes to ten million females as well as a million males are suffering from eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and anorexia bulimia. Close to twenty five million more have a problem with binge eating (Fairburn et al., 1993; Hoek, 1995; Fairburn et al., 1993; Shisslak et al., 1995).
Due to the secretiveness as well as shame that are associated with the eating disorders most of the cases are never reported. This is coupled with the sub-clinical eating disorders and attitudes. For instance, Smolak (1996) indicated that close to 80% of the average American female is dissatisfied with their own appearance.
1. Females between 20 to 50 years old suffer from the illness, anorexia nervosa and the mortality rate that is associated with this illness is about twelve times more than the death rate of all other death causes (Sullivan, 1995).
2. Anorexia nervosa is noted to have the highest rate of premature fatality for all forms of mental illnesses (Sillivan, 1995).
A study conducted by Hoek and van Hoeken (2003) revealed that;
Close to 40% of the newly identified anorexia cases appear in girls aged between fifteen and nineteen years old.
There is a significant increase in the cases of anorexia from the period 1935-1989 among women aged between fifteen and twenty four.
There is a general rise in the incidents of the illness in women aged between fifteen and nineteen years old in every decade since 1930.
b. Effects on individuals, families, communities
Anorexia nervosa has been noted to affect the sufferer, families as well as the general community.
The effects of anorexia nervosa of individual
Casper (1986) in his study on the pathophysiology of anorexia nervosa noted that the illness affects women mostly. The illness is however indicated by Dryden-Edwards (n.d ) to cause psychological and behavioral effects on the sufferers. The psychological and behavioral effects have been noted to affect family and the communities as well.
The psychological and behavioral effects of anorexia nervosa include;
The sufferer may become seriously underweight which can then lead to social with withdrawal and depression
The individual may become extremely irritable and may be easily upset and may have difficulty in interacting with other people
The patient may suffer from sleep interruptions which may lead to fatigue at day time
The attention as well as concentration can reduce
Most sufferers who have anorexia usually become obsessed with thoughts of food as well as food itself. They constantly think about food and are compulsive about their eating rituals.
The other psychiatric problems that are exhibited by sufferers of anorexia nervosa are affective mood disorders and well as personality disorders
Individuals with the illness are very complaint in almost all aspects of life except with their relationship with food. The lack adequate amount of self-perception. They tend to be very eager and exhibit a heightened sense of perfection.
The symptoms of anorexia nervosa in males tend to be like the psychological problems that are observed in overweight women.
As compared with the symptoms in men, the symptoms of anorexia nervosa in women are generally associated with displeasure with their body as well as general strong feeling of becoming thin.
As a result of the growth as well as development that takes place during childhood and adolescence, the signs and symptoms of anorexia include a natural increase in their height as well as a slowed increase in the development of the general body functions.
These features have been noted to lead to general negative effects on an individual's daily activities.
The physical signs and symptoms of anorexia include;
Circulatory problems. Even though, they can be regarded as not life-threatening, the abnormally slow rate of heart beat (bradycardia) and low level of blood pressure (hypotension) are some of the most frequent manifestations of the starvation that is associated with anorexia nervosa. The general reduction in the heart capacity is however associated with severe starvation and weight loss.
III. The Causes of the Problem
Latzer, Ben-Ari, Galimidi (2002) conducted a study on anorexia nervosa on the family. Their study was however on the effects that anorexia nervosa has on younger sisters. The aim of the study was to effectively describe as well as analyze the kind of experience that sisters of patients having anorexia nervosa have. Their experience was examined critically in terms of the illness, the step sister as well as the relationship that exists within the family in coping with anorexia nervosa.
The findings indicated that the sister's emotional experience was very much affected by the illness. The findings were classified into six main categories which included; emotional process basic changes in life functions, structural processes, body image as narrative of the illness..In regards to the structural processes, the concept relates to the fact that a certain family member is ill as a crucial element of the family system. The family dynamic process relates to the emotional experience of the sister as one of duality. All of these concepts are important since they underscore the various implications of the illness in regard to the terms of putting the sister at risk of being affected by additional pathological symptoms. This study presents a detailed description, analysis and explanation of the experience of a younger sister. This helps in elucidating the risks associated with her mental and emotional functioning.
Extant literature has been dedicated to the possible causes of anorexia nervosa. Over the years, the possible causes have changed as a result of new evidence as well as discoveries. The genetic predisposition has been extensively discussed by scientists, the role of perfectionism in anorexia has also been extensively discussed using psychiatry while sociology has been used in explaining the relationship that exists between mothers and cases of anorexia. The role of media in the predisposition to anorexia is also discussed.
One of the most used debates in the study…