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Eating Disorders - Causes and Effects

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Eating Disorders The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN). There has been a large increase in sufferers in the last 20 years. Anorexia Nervosa According to the DSM there are four criteria for AN * Weight-must be less than 85% of expected * Anxiety-Intense fear of becoming fat * Body image distortion-Individuals perception of their body weight is distorted * Amenorrhoea-The absence of menstruation 90% of patients are female and usually starts in adolescence. The increase in frequency in the western world is probably due to media emphasis on slimness. About 5% of sufferers die from starvation. Bulimia nervosa Criteria for BN * Binge-numerous episodes of binge eating in which too much food is eaten in little time * Purge-Frequent inappropriate compensatory behaviour to prevent weight gain, e.g. self induced vomiting, excessive exercise * Frequency-The above behaviours occur at least twice a week over a 3 month period * Body image-Individuals self evaluation depends excessively on weight * Distinct condition-Binge eating and compensatory behaviour do not occur only during episodes of AN Mostly confined to women, 5% of sufferers are male. ...read more.


Monozygotic twins (MZ) share exactly the same genes. Dizygotic (DZ) have the same genetic relatedness of normal siblings. More MZ twins both develop AN than DZ twins, In BN there is not much difference. But because not all MZ twins both got the disease this suggests that it is not soley dues to genetics, but maybe there is a genetic vunerability. Neuroanatomy The individual may have brain abnormalities for example in the hypothalamus. But this could be caused by the disorder, rather than the cause OF it. Psychodynamic Sexual development-The fact that the disorder starts in teenage girls suggests that AN is related to sexual fears such as fear of getting pregnant leads to not wanting to have periods and a desire to remain pre-pubescent Family systems Rosenman et al- the family of an anorexic is characterised by enmeshment meaning that none of the family members have a clear identity because everything is done together, refusing to eat is a rebellion. ...read more.


the treatment for this, rewarding weight gain to try and un-condition patients has proved effective but this does not take into account genetic vunerability Modelling Cooper et al Anorexia is more common in western society, this can be explain in terms of role models available most of them emphasise slimness and we are likely to imitate them. Nasser-studies Egyptian women studying in Cairo and London none of the women studying in Cairo developed an eating disorder in contrast to 12% of those studying in London. This explains many features of the disorders and also backs up genetic vulnerability but the majority of women didn't develop a disorder so cultural factors alone cannot be responsible. Cognitive approach Distortion of Body image Sufferers of eating disorders have distorted views of their own body weight and shape. These are known as cognitive biases. Garfinkel and Garner found that anorexics typically over estimate their body size when exposed to an image distorting technique compared to that of controls. It is unclear weather these cognitive biases happen after the eating disorder starts or before. ...read more.

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