People suffering from Anorexia Nervosa will not maintain a normal body weight. With their weight being 15% or more below normal their Body Mass Index can drop to a level of 12 or below, which is extremely unhealthy. They are also significantly afraid of gaining any weight even though they are usually underweight to begin with. This continues the cycle of unhealthy behavior because they will never get back to normal health without gaining weight and rebalancing their body system. They also have an imprecise view about the size of their body and the way it looks. They consider themselves fat or obese even though they are underweight and most likely unhealthy and gaunt looking. These people also will stoutly deny any issue with their weight loss or current weight.
These four key elements cause unhealthy balances and disruptions with normal body processes and the symptoms of this imbalance will present similar to those of starvation. This disorder affects men and women differently in some ways. Women who are malnourished from this condition will have low levels of estrogen causing menstrual symptoms to stop. Men, on the other hand, will have decreased testosterone levels causing a disruption in their normal sex drive and ability to function sexually. Universally, malnutrition from Anorexia will cause a decrease in normal basal metabolic rates which is defined as the amount of energy the body expends for vital functions while at rest. It also causes levels of blood glucose, insulin, and Leptin to decrease. This malnutrition also causes the body to lose some of its ability to retain heat, resulting in some people with severe anorexia to develop Lanugo, a soft and fine body hair.
The cause of this disorder is relatively unknown, but there is a wide range of possibilities. Biological, environmental, and psychological factors can all attribute to a person developing Anorexia. Decreases in Serotonin, the neurotransmitter involved in emotions, have been involved in both Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa (another type of eating disorder). Certain types of family interactions can possibly cause issues with body image as well. If parents make a child hyper-aware of their weight and how their body looks or set examples of inappropriate eating habits, it could cause the child to mimic these habits and look at themselves too critically in the future. Psychologically, eating disorders often occur alongside other disorders such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and personality disorders. This could be because of the chemical imbalances in the brain.
Since most sufferers don’t seek treatment until their condition is serious, sometimes a small hospital stay is required to get them stabilized and on the right track to recovery. The first goals are to have the patient get back to a normal body weight and establish better eating habits. Some ways to help a patient gain weight are to increase their social interactions, start using schedules for eating to make a routine, or simply just reducing physical activity. In more extreme cases a longer hospital stay is needed. Since Anorexia can sometimes be accompanied by depression, a patient may have suicidal thoughts or may want to harm themselves. Their physical health can also be so affected that they require food through an IV or feeding tube. This is usually for patients who