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There are several different theories about the causality and development of bulimia

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Introduction

There are several different theories about the causality and development of bulimia. Bulimia may have a genetic and hereditary component aswell as a socio-environmental component. Other psychological factors involved include mood disorders and substance abuse in families of people with bulimia. One aspect of the biological perspective suggests that people with bulimia have a low serotonin level which is a brain chemical involved with both well-being and appetite. It was also suggested that a low central dopamine level was correlated with abnormal responses to food. Jimmerson et al investigated this perspective. Cerebrospinal fluid neurotransmitter metabolite levels were studied to assess whether measures of central serotonin, dopamine, or norepinephrine function are associated with severity of abnormal eating patterns in patients with bulimia nervosa. In comparison with healthy controls , hospitalized bulimic patients with a history of binge eating more frequently than twice daily had significantly lower CSF concentrations of these brain chemicals. For the total patient group, levels of both chemicals were significantly inversely correlated with binge frequency. ...read more.

Middle

However, the origins and role of this disturbance in the pathophysiology of bulimia are unclear. Bulimia is eight times more likely to occur in people who have relatives with eating disorders. Parents of people with bulimia appear to be more likely to have psychiatric disorders than people without the disorder. Some experts believe that genetic factors may influence more than half the variances in eating disorders. Several family and twin studies suggest that bulimia nervosa runs in families. Women with bulimic or anorexic female relatives are four to five times more likely to develop the disorder, and twin studies reveal that the genetic risk factor may be as high as 58 percent. These findings are evident in the case study and may contribute to the causality of Carla's condition. The hereditary evidence is that Carla's sister had recovered from Anorexia Nervosa and her mother had been diagnosed with depression and co-morbid Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This disorder can be hereditary and a study by the National Institute of Mental Health revealed that many people with bulimia nervosa exhibit obsessive behavior as severe as diagnosed obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). ...read more.

Conclusion

The case study also tells us that Carla's family placed pressure on her to lose weight. Research has shown that over half the families in which an individual develops an eating disorder were likely to place a strong emphasis on physical appearance and weight. (Haworth and Hoeppner, 2000). Due to social pressure, thinness and weight loss are proritised and a person's self-worth becomes based upon maintaining a low weight and striving to become thin. This process is known as a weight-related self-schema and once this is established in a person all thoughts and feelings are centralised around weight and shape. This then usually develops into a fully- fledged eating disorder such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa. Other influences in the development of this schema that is evident in the case study may derive from the fact that Carla's sister had recovered from Anorexia Nervosa. As this is an eating disorder a great emphasis would have been placed on weight within Carla's family during her sisters illness and probably thereafter Subsequently this exposure may have contributed to the development of her bulimia. ...read more.

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