Anorexia: Eating Disorders and Mayo Clinic Essay

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Anorexia Nervosa

According to, Anorexia Nervosa is “a disorder characterized by fear of becoming fat and refusal of food, leading to debility and even death” (“anorexia”). Yes, someone who has anorexia nervosa does starve himself or herself of food, but this disease is not about food, it helps cope with emotional problems; you equate thinness with self worth (Staff, Mayo Clinic). Victims of this disease are very fearful of gaining weight (Gillard 11). Anorexia usually coexists with diseases such as depression, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders (Gillard 10). Anorexia is a communicable disease because the media (models, magazines, movies, music, etc.) advertises that the only way to be beautiful is to be skinny. This disease is also acquired because the victims’ behavior of not eating is giving them this disease. Anorexia nervosa was clinically defined in 1873, but it has been around since the first century. Ancient Romans, Egyptians, Persians, Chinese, and Africans all have records of anorexia (Gillard 5). The first case of anorexia was a woman who starved herself to death in 383 A.D. The most ancient famous case of anorexia was Saint Catherine who lived from 1347 to 1389. Catherine thought that eating would kill her. She “would rather die of starvation than gluttony.” She thought “vomiting was a means of penance” (Gillard 6). Anorexia Nervosa used to be thought as a form of tuberculosis, a result of hormone imbalances or endocrine malfunctions (Gillard 6). The exact cause of anorexia is unknown. Risk factors of this disease include genes and hormones, paying too much attention to weight and shape, having an anxiety disorder as a child, having a negative self-image, having eating problems during infancy, having social or cultural ideas about health and beauty, or trying to be perfect or overly focused on rules. Anorexia usually begins in teenage or adulthood years. It is most common in white females who are over achievers. Males make up about 5 to 15% of anorexic patients. Symptoms of this disease include brittle hair or nails, severe constipation, drop in body temperature, refusing to admit weight loss, not having a period for three or more cycles (women), cutting food into small pieces and moving them around plate, exercising all the time, refusing to eat in front of other people, using pills to help urination, have a bowel movement, or decrease appetite, having blotchy or yellowy skin that is dry, confused thinking, poor memory and judgment, depression, dry mouth, loss of bone strength, decreased white blood cells, low potassium levels, severe dehydration and severe malnutrition, seizures (from repeated diarrhea and vomiting), and thyroid gland problems (Vorvick, Linda). Tests that can be taken to determine if a patient has Anorexia Nervosa are albumin tests, bone density tests, CBC, electrocardiogram, electrolyte tests, kidney function tests, liver function tests, total protein tests, thyroid function tests, and a urinalysis (Vorvick, Linda). This disease kind of has an infectious cycle. It starts with a pursuit of thinness, moves to restrictive dieting, progresses with deprivation and hunger, changes to binge eating (or eating anything), than maneuvers to guilt/shame, then starts the cycle over again with the pursuit of thinness (Gillard 95). Luckily, this disease can be treated and eventually overcome. The hardest part of treating this disease is getting the patient to realize that they are struggling with anorexia. Victims usually only enter treatment when they