"Anorexia Nervosa is a mental illness in which a person has an intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of their weight and body shape. People with this illness believe themselves to be fat even when their weight is so low that their health is in danger" (Encarta). Eating disorders, such as Anorexia, are a major issue in society today due to society's stereotypical view of women and young teenage girls, in, but many cases men are affected too. Anorexia Nervosa has been believed to be an illness that is primarily based in the mind, or an illness of psychological origin. "Young women diagnosed with anorexia literally waste away as they lament their bodies' perceived fatness" (Bower 1). Most people who have anorexia have similar personality traits being: "perfectionism, introversion, low self-esteem, difficulty expressing emotions, and a need for control.
As the disorder develops, they may experience depression, irritability, sleep problems, lack of sexual interest, and they may withdraw from friends and family" (Encarta). Anorexia is developed by society. An eating disorder is an illness that affects several of the United States population because society has driven many people to be self-conscience about their appearance. Many women and teenage girls are affected because many are afraid of becoming fat and "unacceptable" to society's view on women in general. The illness is often started by a person's need to drop just a few pounds quickly. This is achieved by cutting back on their food intake, and turning quickly, with out control, into self-starvation.
Also, it is a disorder that crosses racial and economical lines, those who succumb to compulsive starving or binge eating are males. This shows that today's society has also affected men's stereotypical view of their appearance and weight. Thus, anorexia not only affects women; it also affects men, in which we are seeing more cases of every day. Victims of eating disorders such as anorexia have warning signs that help people notice the illness. Usually the first sign that friends and family will notice about someone with anorexia is that their body weight seems to be frail and weak, almost looking like skin and bones. Many medial symptoms result from the semi starvation of this illness.
The first medical symptom used to diagnose the illness is that the female will stop getting her menstrual cycle. "People with anorexia often suffer from fatigue and muscle weakness, have trouble staying warm, and have dry, yellowish skin, brittle hair, and sometimes hair loss. Many changes in the function of the heart can occur, such as slow heartbeat, low blood pressure, and heart palpitations" (Encarta). This reveals that the medical effects and consequences can be sever and life-threatening if the illness is not caught at an early stage. Anorexia is a difficult illness to treat because the patient often refuses to believe and accept that they have a problem, and that it is something that they can fix on their own.
Counseling, psychotherapy, and, at a last resort, hospitalization. The first step of treatment is helping the patient to realize that they have a problem. If that continues to be a problem they can be admitted into a hospital. "Weight gain, though often difficult to achieve, is the primary goal for restoring a patient's physical health" (Encarta). Recent published studies discuss the role of SSRI's (selective serotonin re uptake inhibitors) in helping to treat patients with anorexia. SSRI's are drugs that scientists feel can be given to people with anorexia to help increase their body weight.
"The drug did not significantly improve the clinical outcome of patients in a structured inpatient program" (Atti a). Eating disorder specialists are looking for a drug that will help both in weight gain and psychological outlook. Not only can the effects of anorexia be short-term, but also many overlook that the illness also has long-term effects. "In a prospective long-term follow-up of 84 patients 21 years after first hospitalization for anorexia, we found that 50.
6% had achieved full recovery, 10. 4% still met full diagnostic criteria for anorexia, and 15. 6% had died from causes related to anorexia " (Zip fel). Many other long-term effects of the illness are: major depression or another mood disorder, showing psychological attributes, and meeting criteria for at least one other psychiatric disorder.
In conclusion, the most important thing that one can do for a person who is suffering from anorexia is help them through it and help them seek medial attention. The medial attention that is required for this type of illness is normalization of eating patters, enhancement of self-esteem, development of solid self-concept, and improvement of problem-solving and decision-making skills. Support from family and friends is also helpful for the victim's recovery.