Anorexia Nervosa can be translated “nervous loss of appetite”. This type of eating disorder has been affecting the female gender for centuries, occurring in various cultural and ethnical groups around the world. The unusual behavior of people affected by the disease attracted the attention of various medical scientists throughout the course of history. Early data related to Anorexia Nervosa can be found in manuscripts written many centuries ago. Although they are very inaccurate, the first studies on this form of disease date back since the end of the 17th century. These early studies describe Anorexia Nervosa as a purely physiological disease, developed on the premises of physical dysfunctions. More substantial data on Anorexia Nervosa has been collected towards the end of the 19th century, when the neuropsychological nature of the disease has been described for the first time.
The disease has been called “Anorexia Nervosa” at the beginning of the 20th century. In spite of its name, Anorexia Nervosa doesn’t involve loss of appetite at all! This inappropriate definition suggests a poor understanding of the disease in the past. People who suffer from anorexia don’t just “lose” their appetite; they simply refuse to eat properly. Anorexics are overwhelmed by the fear of being fat and therefore they struggle to prevent this from happening. They become obsessed with food and they engage in unusual behaviors in order to lose weight. People who suffer from anorexia in time develop an altered perception of their body image, seeing themselves as “fat”. Regardless of their efforts to lose weight, anorexics constantly complain about their physical appearance and they are never satisfied with their achievements.
In present, anorexia is very common in the young population. It mostly affects girls and young women, although the disease is also known to affect men. Actually, nowadays anorexia seems to affect both sexes equally. While anorexia was a rare disease in the past, nowadays it has an overwhelmingly high incidence in the young population. Although there are some genetic and acquired physiological factors involved in the development of Anorexia Nervosa, the disease appears to be triggered by environmental and neuropsychological factors.
In modern society, the high incidence of anorexia in the young population is interrelated with the increased influence of the media over the masses. The ideal of beauty promoted by the society we live in has a great influence on teenagers and children. Being fit and having a slim body is the ideal of beauty promoted by modern society and due to a pronounced pressure exercised by the media and modern culture, many young people engage in unhealthy food behaviors in an attempt to achieve an image that closely resembles the topical ideal of beauty. Nowadays, anorexia is obviously a phenomenon induced by modern society, which latently manipulates the young. In fact, the diminished acceptance of modern society for “average-looking people” is the main catalyst of Anorexia Nervosa in present. Due to the exaggerated ideals of beauty promoted these days, and the increased pressure exercised by our culture upon the young, anorexia can only become an even more prevalent phenomenon in future.
Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by a pronounced fear of gaining weight and being fat. People confronted with this condition become obsessed with food and engage in exaggerated acts of preventing weight gain. It is very important to understand that anorexia doesn’t involve loss of appetite. Anorexics willingly refuse to eat properly, continuously pursuing their goal of having a slim body. People who suffer from anorexia keep very strict diets and often over-exercise in an attempt to become thin.
The main problem of anorexics is that they are never satisfied with their efforts and regardless of how much weight they may lose, they continue to indulge in self-restrictive food behaviors. In many cases, people affected by anorexia develop an altered perception of their bodies. They always complain about their physical appearance, referring to themselves as fat. People who suffer from anorexia often try to suppress their hunger by taking diet pills or they even try to replace food with energy drinks. Due to their very scarce diet and the poor intake of nutrients, anorexics often develop serious illnesses. Many people with anorexia eventually develop anemia, gastrointestinal disorders, or osteoporosis (deterioration of bones).
Anorexia has a very high incidence among teenagers worldwide. Statistics indicate that in the United States alone, anorexia affects more than 10 million people. Although anorexia can occur in both sexes, the disorder is very common in the female gender. Research results indicate that more than 90 percent of people diagnosed with anorexia are women. Anorexia is mostly common in teenagers and young adults, rarely affecting people at more advanced stages of life.
The actual causes of anorexia haven’t yet been clarified. The disorder seems to occur on the background of inherited genetic abnormalities, and the main triggers for anorexia are suspected to be various environmental factors Anorexia is more prevalent in well-developed societies, which suggests a pronounced environmental feature of the disorder. However, this type of eating disorder has been identified in virtually any ethnical group and culture, hence contradicting existing environmental theories.
Anorexia affects people on multiple levels and there are various signs that can point to this type of disorder. Physical signs of anorexia are: pronounced weight loss, body weakness, fatigue and anemia. Recidivating menstrual problems are clear indicators of anorexia in the female gender. From a behavioral perspective, the signs of anorexia are: strict dieting, refusal to eat in the company of others, excessive exercise, abusive use of diet pills and diuretics, refusal of social interactions. The emotional aspect of anorexia can involve depression, low self-esteem, inaccurate perception of body image and sudden changes in mood.
In time, people affected by anorexia become the victims of their own actions. Although they may not realize it, anorexics actually engage themselves in self-destructive behaviors. It is very important to pay attention to any signs that may suggest the presence of anorexia in your friends or family members. Anorexia can be treated and people can recover completely from the disorder if they receive appropriate encouragement and support.