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Eating disorders

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Eating disorders Introduction Eating Disorder: - A term that refers to a serious disruption of a person's eating habits or appetite and which may reflect a persons abnormal psychological functioning. The most common eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. Anorexia Nervosa Anorexia Nervosa is a type of eating disorder in which the person despite being seriously underweight, fears that she or he might become obese and therefore engages in self starvation to prevent this happening. Bulimia Nervosa Bulimia Nervosa is a type of eating disorder in which a person habitually engages in episodes of uncontrollable eating (known as bingeing, followed by self induced vomiting or other compensatory behaviours (purging). People with bulimia have an abnormal concern with body size and a morbid fear of becoming fat. Both Anorexia and Bulimia are most common in adolescent girls, but they do occur in older individuals and are also becoming increasingly frequent in men. They are also more common in European countries, but again incidence is increasing elsewhere. Clinical characteristics of Anorexia Nervosa Anxiety: A key characteristic of anorexia is the anxiety associated with the disorder and excessive fear of being fat. People with anorexia are not simply obsessed with weight but fearful of weight gain. ...read more.


When stress dies down, appetite should return to normal but it is possible that this does not happen to people with anorexia because they lack the hormone to switch the appetite back on (called AVP). A key characteristic of anorexia is that people with the disorder can resist the need to eat, and this explanation accounts for this. Biochemical factors as a cause or effect of anorexia nervosa - The starvation hypothesis suggests that neurotransmitter and hormone disorders are a consequence rather than a cause of emotional distress. Fichter and Pirke (1995) starved normal individuals, which caused changes in neurotransmitter and hormone levels, supporting the view that starvation causes the changes rather than vice versa. it may be that, once starvation is under way, this leads to changes that then become symptoms of the disorder. The Psychodynamic approach Freud suggested that eating was a substitute for sexual activity. Therefore, not eating was a way to repress sexual thoughts and the onset of sexual maturity. Starvation in adolescence is also a means of avoiding the development of an adult's body. Restricted food intake prevents menstruation and development of secondary sexual characteristics, such as breasts and enlarged hips. ...read more.


Whereas decreased serotonin activity may be responsible for bulimia. (Galla, 1995). This makes sense because people with bulimia overeat and then feel guilty because of the desire to be thin. An increased consumption of Carbohydrates increases the production of serotonin. This has lead to the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in the treatment of bulimia. Serotonin either predisposes an individual to develop bulimia, or perpetuates the disorder, or both. Individuals with bulimia may diet because they cannot trust their own physical self-regulators, which sets a vicious cycle in motion leading to related emotional changes that perpetuate and result in abnormal eating behaviours. Neuroanatomy As with anorexia, the hypothalamus plays a role in bulimia. Damage to the hypothalamus can result in overeating or undereating. In animals damage to the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH) results in overeating. This happens because the lateral hypothalamus (LH) stimulates eating and the VMH is damages, there is no sense of satiety and overeating occurs, which may result in obesity. In an individual who wishes to be thin, overeating is controlled as far as possible but may then result in excessive binge, which further results in compensation through purging. Serotonin is linked to this process because it helps to regulate the feeding centers of the hypothalamus. Low levels of serotonin stimulate the LH. ...read more.

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