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Anorexia Nervosa (Essay Sample)


The paper was about discussing the eating disorder anorexia nervosa. This included some of the major causes of the disease such as perfectionism and family influence.


Anorexia nervosa
Anorexia nervosa
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists defines Anorexia nervosa as an eating disorder which is severe, extremely distressing and often a chronic mental illness which may lead to severe weight loss, growth retardation, impaired thinking, infertility, bowel and intestinal disorder,physical disabilities and major disruptions to the emotional, educational and social development CITATION The09 \l 1033 (The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, 2009). The trait of perfectionism has been identified to be preeminent in clinical samples of females with anorexia nervosa and a tendency to incline towards being perfectionists. However, it is also important to note that there is a strong genetic link among the anorexia nervosa patients and that family personality characteristics may increase the chance of a person's susceptibility to anorexia nervosa.
Perfectionism in Anorexia Nervosa
Perfectionism in anorectics refers to a state where the patients tend to have unrealistic expectation about how they perform various activities and how they should look. The anorectics tend to have right-or-wrong and all or nothing way of perceiving situations. This is because most of them lack a sense of identity and thus take the identity of pleasing others, hence aim to be perfect CITATION Gra09 \l 1033 (Grange, Lock, Loeb, & Nicholls, 2009).
Findings from a study carried out on 322 women with anorexia nervosa showed that those with anorexia nervosa had a higher score on a multidimensional perfectionism scale compared to the healthy subjects. The women also scored highly on the perfectionism sub scale. The two measures of perfectionism were highly related to the three sub types associated with anorexia nervosa CITATION Hal00 \l 1033 (Halmi, et al., 2000). The findings of the study proved that the association between perfectionism and the drive for getting thin in nonclinical subjects and high perfectionism in malnutritioned and weight regained patients having anorexia nervosa.
Weaknesses of the Study
The weakness of the study was that, the study used subjects from a single site. A second weakness was that familiar cases of anorexia nervosa are not a representation of the of the anorexia nervosa patients in the general population, thus inflating the overall perfectionism prominence and other traits associated with the affected individuals. Finally the intraclass correlation used in the study was not significant thus indicating no more of a characteristic in sibling pairs than the nonsiblings.
Strength of the study
The strength of the study is that the International multisite study provides a strong correlation of for perfectionism as a characteristic of anorexia nervosa.
Family Influence in Anorexia Nervosa
According to the Academy for Eating Disorders states that whereas family influence may a role in the beginning of anorexia nervosa, modern knowledge disputes the fact that family influence is the primary cause of the disorder. Therefore the Academy for Eating Disorder are firmly against the perception that family influence is the primary cause of the disorder. Rather the AED recommends the involvement of family in the treatment of anorexia nervosa among the young patients CITATION Gra09 \l 1033 (Grange, Lock, Loeb, & Nicholls, 2009).
The AED takes this stand because there is no reliable structure of functioning with an individual who suffers from anorexia nervosa.
One of the major strengths relating family influence anorexia nervosa is the cross-sectional studies. Numerous studies have identified parenting and the family functioning as one of the major features that occur at the commencement of the anorexia nervosa. This mainly featured inappropriate parental pressures as one of the major causes.
Secondly, genetics have played a significant part in linking anorexia nervosa to family influence. Family and molecular genetic studies have been carried out in anorectics and increasing evidence points to the fact that heritable influence increases susceptibility to anorexia nervosa.
The major weakness of the family influence theory is longitudinal risk factor research. Prospective studies carried out to identify the role of parenting and family functioning in determining the advanced onset of anorexia nervosa have failed to find the factors as significant to causing anorexia nervosa.
Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa
The symptoms of anorexia nervosa are same in the different research materials. The National Eating Disorder collaboration classifies the symptoms into 3 groups which are; the physical signs, psychological signs and behavioural signs. The common physical signs are rapid weight loss, disruption of menstrual periods in females and low libido in men, dizziness, having a cold, facial changes, feeling tired and having trouble sleeping, constipation and facial changes CITATION Nat04 \l 1033 (National Institute for Clinical Excellence, 2004).
The psychological signs include; intense fear of gaining weight, feeling anxious, preoccupation with food, weight and body shape, depression, fear of gaining weight, slow thinking and having concentration difficulties, low esteem, having a distorted body image, body image dissatisfaction, sensitivity on comments relating to food, body shape, weight and exercise. Some of the common behavioural signs are dieting behaviour, misuse of suppressants, laxatives, diuretics and enemas, binge eating, private eating and avoiding meals with other people, antisocial behaviour and extreme events such as self harm, suicide or abuse attempts.
There are certain symptoms of anorexia nervosa that are unique to a family influence victim. These are having trouble sleeping, depression, having concentration difficulties, feeling anxious, private eating, antisocial behaviour, suicide and abuse attempts.
The most common type of symptoms associated with perfectionism are intense fear, preoccupation with food, being keen on weight and body shape, fear of gaining weight, low esteem, having a distorted body image, sensitivity on comments relating to food, weight and exercise, avoiding meals, private eating and binge eating.
Assessment Tools and Treatments
When one suspects that he or she has anorexia nervosa, it is important share with a family member after which one can seek medical attention the first step to medical attention is approaching a general practitioner (GP) for consultation and advice. The general practitioners help with an initial assessment of the condition. General practitioners often provide a diagnosis and full physical check up after which organize other professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists who may play an important role in its treatment CITATION Nat11 \l 1033 (National Eating Disorders Collaboration, 2011).
Before directing one to the professionals, the general practitioner should cover the following; a physical examination, exploration of what is going on ones life and what might have led to the illness, summary of one's general state of health, provide information on the complication of the illness, explanation about the illness, explain the role if different health professionals and services available to an eating disorder patient CITATION The09 \l 1033 (The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, 2009).
The major diagnosis of anorexia nervosa involves mental health assessment, especially the link between the eating behaviours, thoughts, feelings about eating and once weight, body and shape which are the major characteristics of a perfectionist case in anorexia nervosa. The psychological assessment mainly involves questions about one's life at home, school or work, when the condition started, how it started, one's motivation on dieting, eating problems, weight loss strategies and other activities that one participates in such as socializing and alcohol.
It is also important to note that most assessment cases tend to turn out to be perfectionist cases in anorexia nervosa since most teenagers especially females tend to have perfection issues towards the body size, weight and shape. There still remains plenty of work to be done so as to identify the best treatment for anorexia nervosa. However, this doesn't mean that the present form of treatment doesn't work. The aims of the treatment of anorexia nervosa are to restore the weight of the affected patient, give one back his or her life, give one the freedom from mental torture,keep the individual healthy and finally help individuals identify their true values.
Implication Anorexia Nervosa on Psychological Function
The psychological effects associated with anorexia nervosa can be so serious and can adversely affect the patient. Individuals with anorexia are often depressed. The main contention is always whether the patient contracted anorexia because of being depressed or is the patient being depressed because of anorexia. For some individuals it can be both, the level of depression in anorexia patients always gets worse as the condition advances to later stages CITATION Luc04 \l 1033 (Lucas, 2004).
The second psychological effects associated with anorexia is its effect on self esteem. Anorexia nervosa patients tend to have extreme low self esteem. Mo...
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