Causes of Anorexia Nervosa

causes of anorexia nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa Causes

Causes of Anorexia Nervosa
There are several contributing factors that may lead to the emergence of an eating disorder although no defined cause has been established. Contributing factors include:

o Biological factors (Eating Disorders often run in families. Risk of developing an eating disorder is 50-80% determined by genetics)
o Social factors (unrealistic pressures to obtain the “perfect” body; the constant influx of images of perfection; and narrow definitions of beauty)
o Psychological factors (substantial co-morbidity with other mental health disorders – ie. depression, anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, low self-esteem; and feelings of lack of control) and
o Interpersonal factors (history of abuse; being teased for size or weight; traumatic life event(s); and difficulty expressing feelings and emotions).

Anorexia nervosa is a type of self-starvation and a very serious psychiatric disorder with elevated mortality and risk of long-term medical consequences. Affected people continue to view themselves as needing to lose weight or fear gaining weight despite being very underweight. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Rapid weight loss
  • Obsessive preoccupation with food, calories and the desire to lose weight
  • Excessive dissatisfaction with body shape and weight
  • A decrease in variety and amount of food eaten
  • Skipping meals and avoiding eating with others
  • Excessive exercise
  • Self-induced vomiting or chewing and spitting out food
  • Abuse of laxatives, diuretics or diet pills
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Other serious health consequences can include depressed mood, fractures and heart problems.

People who have anorexia tend to think they’re overweight when they’re actually very thin. They may eat fewer than 1,000 calories a day, exercise excessively, and vomit, use laxatives, take diuretics, or give themselves enemas as they continually attempt to lose more weight.

Approximately 1 percent of American women may have anorexia, and that could actually be a conservative estimate. Anorexia can affect men, children, and the elderly, but the majority of those who have it are adolescent girls or young women.

People with anorexia nervosa tend to:

  • Maintain a weight that’s more than 15 percent lower than a normal body weight
  • Have an intense fear of gaining pounds
  • Have a distorted image of their bodies
  • Deny that they have an illness
  • Among women, stop menstruating for at least three months in a row
  • Anorexics may also have rituals associated with eating, like cutting their food into small pieces, refusing to eat in front of other people, or cooking big meals for others while not eating themselves.

As a result of the eating disorder disease, people with anorexia may have a low body temperature, brittle bones and nails, dry and yellow skin, and fine hair on the body. Ultimately, anorexia can cause low blood pressure and a low heart rate, and lead to an irregular heart rhythm or heart failure. The disease can also affect the kidneys and brain. People with anorexia have even starved to death.

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