What is Anorexiz Nervosa


Savchenko Natalia

The discussion will be on an eating disorder, Anorexia Nervosa, that is a huge concern of our society. It is an eating disorder that is caused by a complex mixture of social, psychological and physical problems and consists of various conditions that involve an obsession with food, weight and appearance to the degree where a person’s health, relationships and usual everyday activities are threatened to fail.

The statistics are dramatic. Anorexia has become more common in developing countries in the past 20 years. 50% of Anorexics recover fully, another 20% only recover physically and the reported mortality rate is 20%. Each year, approximately one out of every 200 females adolescents become anorexic. About 90-95% of all people who suffer from Anorexia Nervosa are females. The most vulnerable to this eating disorder are the ambitious, achieving girls between the ages of 12 and 25. However, in industrialized countries, the condition is becoming more prevalent in all age groups and both sexes . The main trait of anorexia is when body weight is more then 15% lower then the expected one. It is caused by fear of gaining weight that embraces excessive preoccupation with food and abnormal eating habits.

Basically, it is an addiction that results in successive changes in mind and body. The progression of these changes follows an orderly and predictable path from health to mental and physical devastation. The addiction that we are talking about is a result of self-starvation process. This means that during that process a group of substances called endorphins is produced by the body that is very addictive. These substances play major role in causing the behavioral and mental changes characteristic to this condition and are responsible for perpetuating and maintaining anorectic behavior throughout all stages of addictive process.

The addiction concept of Anorexia Nervosa is made up of 2 principles: One states that much of the anorexics actions like behavior and thinking are governed by the mechanism of reward. That is a person will self-administer by engaging in such behavior whereas a non-addictive substance will not cause a person to automatically continue self-administration in order to get some pleasant experience. The second is that there is a direct causative relationship between the state of eating and the state of mood and feelings. Which means that non-eating and weight loss promote a sense of well-being or improvement of depressed mood via release of endorphins.

Two types of Anorexia Nervosa are recognized: first is a simple restriction of food. People usually starve themselves despite the hunger pains that they suffer. The second type includes restriction of food and either regular purging or binging and purging together. It is done by means of laxatives, appetite suppressants or even self-induced vomiting.

The distinguishing dietetic trends are consumption of low-fat foods, vegetarianism and avoidance of all the sweet products. Moreover, dramatic reduction in caloric intake takes place that is many times accentuated by a significant increase in activity. Often an aversion to foods is developed. Such eating behavior is a cause of severe lack of macronutrients such as fats, proteins and carbohydrates as well as minerals and vitamins that make it impossible for an organism to maintain itself in good health.

Anorexia Nervosa also falls into a category of mental illnesses because it has been found that this condition is many times accompanied by other mental illness. Common for all the anorexics is that food becomes the main object of their lives and it makes them feel as if it was impossible to live without it. Food becomes a dominant in all the daily regulations and judgments. And unlike other eating disorders suffering from anorexia do not consider their weight loss and restricted eating as problematic and no matter how much they weight, the feeling of being overly fat will not abandon them.

Anorexia Nervosa consists of various stages. First is the Early Loss Phase where a series of physical and mental changes occur as adaptation change to promote survival. Then it is followed by an Advanced Weight Loss Phase. It begins when a person reaches the desired weight but is unable to stop dieting due to the addictive function of endorphins. Brain dependency takes place, judgdements become less perceptive and objective. The third phase is the Burn-out Phase. Here the tolerance can no longer be overcomed by an individual. During this phase an anorectic feels the return of some anxiety and depression because a person finds out that she or he does not cope as well as did in the previous phases. Also because the feeling is worth, the addicted side of the anorectic’s mind makes every effort to lock in a view of herself/himself that is in favor of self-starvation. Just like other addicts, the anorectic has to hit the proverbial bottom before change is truly possible and has a reasonable chance to last. The anorectic has to experience the power of the addiction even without being aware of it. No reasoning or threatening has anywhere near as much effect on the anorectic’s attitude as the painful experience of being consumed by the addiction, only to find out in the end that she has been wreckled by it and has received nothing in return. At this point anorexics may give in to urging of their parents or friends and agree to seek professional help