Topics: Psychology, Eating disorders, Anorexia nervosa Pages: 5 (1571 words) Published: May 19, 2013
An Investigation Into the Causes and Treatments of Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder which affects a large number of women and men in North America. An investigation into the various causes of this disorder, as well as the successful treatments available is important because of the large number of people affected, and the significant toll that the disease can take on the human body. Because anorexia represents a potentially fatal eating disorder, understanding its causes as well as its treatments can help those who may be suffering from the disease to better understand and seek treatment for their condition. This paper will discuss the various different causes and treatments available for anorexia; it will be demonstrated that although there is no single cause and treatments can take many different forms, the importance of psychological counselling to help treat issues with body image and self esteem are of paramount importance in the successful treatment of this eating disorder.

Causes of Anorexia

An investigation into the causes of anorexia is important because this information may prevent those at risk from further developing the dangerous eating disorder. The relevant literature notes that despite a great deal of research and information on the subject, clinical practitioners have not been able to come to agreement on exactly what causes anorexia in patients suffering from the disease (Tozzi, Sullivan and Fear 143). Sociological and cultural factors, individual factors, and family factors may all play a role in an individual developing an eating disorder such as anorexia (Tozzi, Sullivan and Fear 144). Social and cultural factors include the societal pressure women and men may feel to conform to a specific body type or image. In Western society, girls and boys are taught that being thin represents the ideal of beauty (NHS). By the same token, the media often focuses on the physical imperfections of celebrities and those in the public light, thus helping to create distortions in the minds of some regarding their own physical imperfections (NHS). However, the literature notes that while a great many individuals are exposed to the social and cultural risk conditions which may precipitate the disease, only a small handful of those who are exposed to these social and cultural pressures are likely to develop the eating disorder (Tozzi, Sullivan and Fear 144).

Other causes of anorexia include individual factors, such as an individual’s choices to engage in dieting (Tozzi, Sullivan and Fear 144). Indeed, research has shown that for adolescent girls, the severity of their dieting behaviours and habits represent the strongest risk factor for developing anorexia (Tozzi, Sullivan and Fear 144). Extreme dieting can also produce biological changes in individuals, making anorexia more likely. To explicate, if a person does not get enough to eat, this may impact their hormonal balance, leading to a number of problems in the messages the body receives from the brain relating to hunger and satiation (NHS). This can cause a person who engages in risky dieting to feel anxiety when full, and feel calmer and more relaxed when hungry, thus leading to more extremes in behaviour and the onset of anorexia (NHS). Thus, extreme dieting can cause biological changes leading to an eating disorder like anorexia. Again, while severe dieting may represent a risk factor for some individuals to develop anorexia, the literature establishes that the vast majority of individuals are able to diet safely without developing an eating disorder such as anorexia (Tozzi, Sullivan and Fear 144).

Family and environmental factors can also play a role in the development of anorexia in some individuals (Tozzi, Sullivan and Fear 144). A family history of anorexia, or a family history of eating disorders can play a contributing role in causing the development of anorexia in some...

Cited: Fairburn, Christopher G. "Evidence-Based Treatment of Anorexia Nervosa." International Journal of Eating Disorders 37.S1 (2005): 26-30. Print.
Mayo Clinic. "Anorexia nervosa - treatments and drugs." 5 January 2012. Mayo Clinic. Web. 11 August 2012. .
NHS. "Anorexia nervosa - causes." 16 May 2012. NHS. Web. 11 August 2012. .
Tozzi, Federica, et al. "Causes and Recovery in Anorexia Nervosa: The Patient’s Perspective." International Journal of Eating Disorders 33.2 (2003): 143-154. Print.
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