What are Causes of Anorexia Nervosa?

Garry Crystal

Anorexia, or anorexia nervosa, is the medical term for an eating disorder. Anorexics limit their intake of food, sometimes to a life-threatening degree. The causes of anorexia are not fully known. They are thought to be caused by either physical or emotional problems.

Anorexia nervosa and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) are often linked in some way.
Anorexia nervosa and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) are often linked in some way.

A person who suffers from anorexia has a fear of gaining weight. They limit the amount of food they eat and may become painfully thin. People around the anorexic may notice the change in weight, although the anorexic may not see any difference in his or her own appearance. A person who sufferers from anorexia may have a distorted body image. If this is the case, the image that the anorexic sees in the mirror will be that of an overweight person, and not the real reflection of the anorexic.

Parental divorce can cause some teenage girls to become anorexic.
Parental divorce can cause some teenage girls to become anorexic.

Anorexia rates have grown rapidly in the last decade. Research has shown that the media and the fashion industry have contributed to this condition. The pressure placed on individuals through constant images of thin, beautiful people has caused some dieting fads to spiral out of control.

Some research has also shown that there may be a genetic link to anorexia. There may be certain abnormal genes that can cause the condition to appear. Evidence also points to a type of brain disorder. A certain brain irregularity may affect the metabolic procedures in an anorexic.

Anorexia has also been closely linked to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). It may be caused by certain stress or anxiety factors. Peer pressure to be thin and social anxieties are also factors in anorexia. If you have obese or overweight family members, your risk of developing anorexia is increased. Low self-confidence is a large factor in anorexia.

Anorexia is a common condition, especially in teenage girls. It is thought that the condition may be a way of coping with this stressful time in their lives. There are trigger situations that can bring about the condition. These may include the death of a loved one, parents' divorce or partner problems.

There are some common signs that may help to identify if a person is anorexic. These include being secretive about food and over-exercising. Anorexics may weight up to 85% of what their normal body weight would be. They may also put restrictions on the type of food they eat, such as refusing to eat fatty or sugary foods.

Physical signs are sometimes easy to spot. The anorexic often looks painfully thin and may suffer from thinning hair and dry skin. In women, the breast area will suffer from shrinkage and the menstrual cycle may be infrequent.

There are no medications that cure anorexia. It is best to confront someone whom you suspect has the condition in a caring way. Advice from health professionals is useful in helping the anorexic regain a healthy body and mind.

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