Makenzie RandolphInstructorByardEnglish10128November 2017What’s Up With Ana N?:The Truth Behind Anorexia Nervosa Anorexia Nervosa is an eatingdisorder in which people obsess over their weight and restrict calories.

Peoplewith anorexia believe they are overweight even if they are underweight, causingthem to continuously lose weight. Anorexia is one of the least common eatingdisorders, affecting less than 1% of all americans, only 5-10 people out of100,00, yet it is the most deadly, and it is the hardest to recover from(Ambrose et. al 27). Research reveals that anorexia has biological causes and avariety of physical and psychiatric effects.             One biological connection is highserotonin levels. This leads to a need to restrict food intake to reduce thelevels of serotonin. High levels of serotonin have been linked to an anxiousfeeling, and self starvation may be an attempt to get rid of the feeling(Hirst, par. 9).

Serotonin is a compound that restricts blood vessels and actsas a neurotransmitter. “Serotonin is responsible for mood balance, and adeficit could lead to depression (McIntosh, par. 3).” This is a link between abiological connection and a psychological effect, the biology of an anorexicperson is causing depression, which furthers the person’s disorder. A second biological connection is analtered level of dopamine.

“Dopamine disturbances can cause hyperactivity,repetition of behaviour (food restriction), and anhedonia (decreased sense ofpleasure) (Engel et. al, par. 3).” This imbalance may explain why anorexics aredriven to lose weight, but are not satisfied when shedding pounds. Thisinsatisfaction drives anorexics to lose more weight, yet will not ever feelsatisfied. It causes an endless cycle of losing weight however still feelingoverweight, this results in being extremely underweight and unhealthy.

Additionally, there are physicaleffects. These effects begin as simple things, things that do not initiallycause harm, but are uncomfortable. Dizziness, fatigue, stomach pains, loss ofenergy. As the disorder progresses, so do the effects. Low blood pressure, skindisorders, stomach ulcers, slow heartbeat may result (“Many,” par. 5). Theseeffects usually go away with treatment, yet, can still worsen.

“Osteoporosis,liver disease, kidney disease, weakened heart muscle, infertility may result.These may be treated but will never go away (“Many,” par. 6).” If anorexia goesuntreated, it may result in death.Anorexia also has hormonal effects.These effects include reduced reproductive hormones, reduced thyroid hormones,increased stress hormones, and reduced growth hormones (“Number,” par. 3).

Effects  may cause infertility, extremestress, and retarded growth. If a person has recovered, and they becomepregnant,  the increase of miscarriage isgreater, and the person may have a baby with birth defects (“Number,” par.4).  Pregnancy ,even after a eatingdisorder is dangerous, for the mother and baby. The mother may have poornutrition, gestational diabetes, severe depression, or labor complications(“Pregnancy,” par. 4). It is recommended that a women gets back to a fullhealthy weight before even trying to conceive.Heart conditions are also a risk.

One condition is called bradycardia. Bradycardia causes a slower heartbeat thanit should be. “In many cases, an individual suffering from bradycardia may findthemselves fainting quite often (“Beating,” par.

2).” Fainting is because thebrain is not receiving sufficient oxygen. Individuals may experience heartfailure, meaning the heart is not able to pump enough blood to nourish theentire body (“Beating,” par. 3). In the worst case, one may experience cardiacarrest, which may be fatal.

Anorexia affects bones, as well. Lowbody weight in females can cause the body to stop producing estrogen, resultingin loss in bone density.  Also,  overproduction of the hormone cortisol, whichtriggers bone loss (“Anorexia,” pars. 5-6).

This may lead to osteoporosis.Osteoporosis is a disease in which the density of bones is decreased. As bonesbecome more fragile, the risk of fracture is increased (“Osteoporosis,” par.1). As weight decreases, so does the quality of bone density, resulting in weakbones. Self harm is a physical effect, thatcan be linked with a psychological effect. Self harm is when one causes harm tohis/or her own body. The most common forms are cutting, burning, andscratching.

“Both self injury and eating disorders are ways for theseindividuals to cope with intense feelings of anger, shame, sadness, loneliness,and guilt (“Studies,” par. 5).” Mutilation could be an expression of guilt ifan Anorexic eats, or anger for not being able to overcome this disorder. Selfharm could also be done out of self hatred alone. As well as physical, there arepsychological effects.

An example is a link between Obsessive CompulsiveDisorder and anorexia. OCD, is a disorder in which a person has uncontrollablerecurring thoughts and behaviours (“Obsessive,” par. 1). While these two arenot directly linked, there are some parallels between these two disorders. Somecompulsions associated with eating disorders are counting calories, usinglaxatives as a regular way to lose weight, and having particular rules when itcomes to meals (Ekern et. al, par. 3). If a person has anorexia, it is not asure thing they have OCD, but it is possible.

Only about 41% of people thatexperience anorexia have OCD ( Neziroglu et. al, par. 2).

It is not uncommonfor these to be had simultaneously, but it is not uncommon, either. Another psychological effect isdepression, though this is not a direct effect. Depression and anorexiagenerally occur at the same time.

Depression worsens as anorexia continuesthough (“Many,” par. 9). People with anorexia may also have low self- esteem,and feelings of worthlessness. (“Many,” par. 10). Low self- esteem is a symptomof depression, as well. One may feel depressed about their weight, resulting inanorexia, and then begin to feel depressed because he or she is not losingenough weight.

A third psychological effect isanxiety. In most cases anxiety occurs before the Anorexia, and the anorexiadevelops so the sufferer can feel as though they have control over some aspectin his or her life, this case being food and weight (“Anxiety,” par. 10).Anxiety is a disorder that causes strong feelings of worry and panic, and  one being able to have the false sense thatthey are in control, it may alleviate the anxiety for a short period of time. All in all, anorexia is a disorderthat affects people in a variety of physical and psychological ways.

Anorexiais not a condition that affects a large population of people. According to theAmerican Psychiatric Association, “one in every one hundred girls and youngwomen has this disorder (Ambrose et. al 27).” It has biological connections aswell, and it is the most deadly eating disorder.

 Works CitedAmbrose, Marylou, and VeronicaDeisler. “The Science of Eating Disorders.” Investing Eating Disorders(Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating): Real Facts for Real Lives , pp. 27–30.

“Anorexia and Effect.” Mirror MirrorEating Disorder Help,”Eating Disorders and AnxietyCo-Occurring.

” Eating Disorder Hope, 17 Aug. 2017,

“Effects of Anorexia: Physical &Mental Effects of Anorexia.” McCallum Place | Effects of Anorexia Nervosa,2017,, Jacquelyn, and CrystalKerges.

“OCD and Eating Disorders Often Occur Together.” Eating Disorder Hope,31 Mar. 2014,, Bridget, et al.

“Causes OfEating Disorders – Biological Factors.” Mental Help Causes of Eating DisordersBiological Factors Continued Comments, 2 Feb. 2007,”Health Effects of Anorexia on theHeart.” Futures of Palm Beach FL Addiction Treatment, Rehab, and Detox Center,2017, www.futuresofpalmbeach.

com/co-occurring-disorders/eating-disorders/anorexia-nervosa/effects-on-the-heart/.Hirst, Jeremy. “Biological Causes ofAnorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa.” Biological Causes of Anorexia Nervosaand Bulimia Nervosa, 18 Nov. 2017,serendip.brynmawr.

edu/bb/neuro/neuro98/202s98-paper3/Hirst3.html.McIntosh, James. “Serotonin: Facts,What Does Serotonin Do?” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 29 Apr.2016, www., Fugen, and JonathanSandler. “The Relationship Between Eating Disorders and OCD Part of theSpectrum.” International OCD Foundation, 11 Oct. 2017,iocdf.

org/expert-opinions/expert-opinion-eating-disorders-and-ocd/.”Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.”National Institute of Mental Health, U.S.

Department of Health and HumanServices, Jan. 2016,www.nimh.

“Pregnancy and Eating Disorders.”National Eating Disorders Association, 2016,, Written by Casa Palmera. “TheLink between Cutting, Self-Injury and Eating Disorders.” Alcohol Treatment& Drug Rehab Center San Diego, CA, 11 Aug. 2015,casapalmera.

com/blog/the-link-between-cutting-self-injury-and-eating-disorders/.”What Is Osteoporosis?” What IsOsteoporosis? | International Osteoporosis Foundation,

“What People With Anorexia NervosaNeed to Know About Osteoporosis.” National Institutes of Health, U.S.Department of Health and Human Services, 2016, www.bones.nih.



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