"Researchers estimate that about 0. 5 to 1 percent of young women in the United States have anorexia nervosa as it is clinically defined -+ by the American Psychiatric Association" (Microsoft 1). Anorexia Nervosa is a national epidemic that is not only exclusive to the females in our society. Anorexia Nervosa is a mental illness where the patient has an intense fear of gaining weight and an imprecise perception of their body size and shape. Someone with anorexia nervosa is going to eat less and often exercise excessively. A person with anorexia nervosa will also will see himself or herself as overweight even when they are so underweight that they are seriously endangering their health.

The purpose of this paper is to examine the different aspects of anorexia nervosa and possible treatments and cures, from the psychological standpoint. Anorexia nervosa is predominantly found in women. Although, more than 90 percent of cases involve women, the other 5 to 10 percent are found in men (Microsoft 1). This number is believed to actually be higher, but many would not as easily recognize this disorder in men since the disorder is so associated with women. Many of the symptoms are psychological in origin. One such symptom is the belief that if the patient is thin then happiness, fame, and wealth will come to them.

Many of these people look to stars in Hollywood such as the actress that plays Alley McBeal on the hit TV drama, Alley McBeal. The successful lawyer has many friends and is often sot after by men. This is one example of many of how Hollywood places an overemphasis on thinness to be beautiful. This leads many young woman and a few young men to become thin.

Through this course, they over exercise and under eat to get the results they wont. In the process of becoming thin, they lose site of the goal and often continue believing they always overweight and in essence ugly. This is a downward spiral that is often part of not having enough self-esteem or self-happiness. Low self esteem and depression is a couple of other symptoms of anorexia nervosa. This self-perception often would lead the patient to try to be more like the stars of Hollywood. Peer pressure could also contribute to the problem.

Although many things could lead to the low self-esteem, parents should watch for it, no matter the cause. "The person thinks he or she weighs too much even though family, friends or health professionals tell them their weight is OK, or that they are too thin" (Web 1). Although one might think that anorexia nervosa is contained within only young people, it is a serious health risk and problem in people over 60 years of age. Many reasons could be contributing to people over 60 to become an anorexic. This is more serious of a problem with the elderly and many don't recognize it. "There has been a real bias in psychiatry and psychology, in terms of looking at people between the ages of 18 and 65.

The phenomenon of disorders in our seniors is coming to people as a surprise" (Microsoft 1). People that develop anorexia nervosa over the age of 70 often die instead of rehabilitating, opposed to about 50 percent of young people are cured and 20 percent come back to facilities for treatment. Many people that develop anorexia nervosa also have OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). "About 35 percent of people with anorexia nervosa also have obsessive-compulsive disorder" (Microsoft 1). A person with this disorder will often have reoccurring thoughts, often unfounded as these thoughts or actions are. For instance, a person with OCD might arrange the silverware in a certain fashion in fear of doing it another way.

And if someone were to go and change the arrangement the person with OCD will often go back and change the arrangement back to the original setting as often as it is changed. A person with anorexia nervosa will also have a preoccupation with preparing elaborate meals or doing the shopping for the family. This preoccupation with food, the OCD, and depression might actually be a result of food deprivation. In many cases though, the obsession with food or other mental illnesses actually arise before a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa.

This might make one to be more vulnerable to developing anorexia nervosa. Prevention of anorexia nervosa is possible by close interaction of the family in the life of the potential person. Treatment involves many steps. Although it is stemmed from a psychological disorder, before the mind can be treated, the body must be treated. Often a doctor will prescribe a diet of eating a lot, no exercise, and vitamin supplements. If this does not work, the patient might be hospitalized and the use of nutrients administered intravenously.

Antidepressants would be prescribed also. Many, if not all, the physical symptoms can be treated by modern medicine. Patients might also be enrolled in nutrition classes or meet with a nutritional planner. In sever cases, the patient would be put into a psychiatric hospital. Treatment is often very difficult because patients deny they have a problem and resist treatment. Some also fear that treatment would also mean that they would have to gain weight.

.".. 42 percent recover, 30 percent improve somewhat, and more than 20 percent suffer from a chronic eating disorder" (Microsoft 1). "The characteristic clinical picture of anorexia nervosa first appeared among daughters of the Western bourgeoisie in the 19 th century, and the typical fatness phobia was not described until 1930" (Gagnon 1). Although it has been over 70 years since this first observed, not much has been learned about the prevention and early warning signs. Anorexia nervosa can be cured but the percentage of cured is not high enough. This paper went over some common miss conceptions, symptoms, and treatment of anorexia nervosa.

Gagnon, Louise. Untitled. The Medical Post Oct. 1996: web > "Anorexia Nervosa." Microsoft (R) Encarta (R) Online Encyclopedia 2001 web (c) 1997-2000 Microsoft Corporation.

All Rights Reserved. Web MD. Microsoft Corporation. 02/28/02.