Anorexia Nervosa as a Brain Disorder

Table of Contents

Introduction

Anorexia nervosa is a prominent eating disorder that has a tremendous impact on people’s lives. It is characterized by an uncontrollable desire to be thin, low weight, food restrictions, and a fear of gaining pounds. This disorder can be diagnosed by using a few criteria such as extremely thin body and resistance to accepting the problem, and it might also lead to serious consequences and has to be treated properly.

The neurology of anorexia shows that this disorder is classified as psychological. According to Mårild et al. (2017), anorexia is “associated with elevated psychiatric and somatic morbidity and mortality” (para. 2). The problem emerges in a patient’s mind and then affects the body. People consider themselves fat even when their weight reaches a critical point, which means there is a body image distortion. Riva (2016) argues that the reason for anorexia on the empirical level is in the “dysfunctions in the neuronal processes related to appetite and emotionality” (para. 1). These processes result in changes in the psyche; for example, they might be the reason for the increase in anxiety, hunger, and perceptions. I was surprised when I found out about how these systems are interrelated.

Main body

It might seem that anorexia or many other behavioral symptoms should be classified as disorders. Instead, individuals should decide by themselves how much they want to eat. However, in comparison with the usual dieting, the main problem is that a person is unable to control this process and cannot stop when it becomes dangerous. Mehler and Brown (2015) highlight that anorexia tremendously affects all body systems, and it is associated with medical complications, which lead to half of all deaths in patients. It cannot be considered a lifestyle because it often ends with lethal consequences. If a family or a client is resistant to these interpretations, then it might be necessary to explain the possible outcomes in detail. Without a client’s will and desire, unfortunately, it is unlikely to provide a decent treatment. It is crucial to realize that patients who suffer from this disorder need help and support to overcome the illness.

There are significant changes in both personality and social behavior that appear as anorexia develops. First of all, an individual physically changes: there is a significant weight loss, hair starts falling out, nails become weak and start breaking, menstruations stop. People with this illness often tend to wear loose clothes, excessively count calories, and exhaust themselves with exercising. Also, they might skip meals or refuse to consume some kinds of food. At the same time, they do not usually see the problem and believe that they are healthy. It might be difficult for them to get up in the morning and continue the routine lifestyle. Patients even might get aggressive with other people when they express concerns about the situation. According to American Psychiatric Association (2013), a person with anorexia has a distorted view of their own appearance. Patients continue to believe they are extremely overweight and constantly stay in a bad mood.

In order to assess these changes, it is crucial to meet with the patient as well as with the family of a client and do the following:

  • Physical examination.
  • Psychological evaluation.
  • Lab tests.

A doctor will thoroughly analyze the results and then diagnose a disorder using DSM-5 criteria.

Health consequences and medical complications of anorexia include organ failure, inability to consume and digest food, and resistance of a patient to realize there is a serious problem. Bonilla, Del Aguila, Wetzel, Scott, and Bonilla (2017) argue that the mortality rate associated with Anorexia is 12 times higher than all other causes of death for young females. Therefore, it is extremely important to come to the doctor on time and ask for help.

People suffering from anorexia need proper treatment, for example, family-based therapy. Dimitropoulos et al. (2018) state that this therapy is one of the most effective approaches for young adolescences. A treatment plan for the patient will include the following:

  • Step one: Parents establish control over a child’s weight, diet, and an exercising schedule.
  • Step two: Parents help a child to achieve a diet that a patient had before diagnosis. They stop closely monitoring the number of calories a patient consumes.
  • Step three: The doctor discusses with the family the final stage of the treatment and comes up with a plan for the final treatment.

It is crucial to make sure that parents believe in a positive outcome and feel empowered. Moreover, sibling support can have a strong effect on the process of dealing with the problem.

Conclusion

To conclude, the seriousness of anorexia cannot be undermined. A lot of young females are in an extremely dangerous situation because of this illness. Fortunately, if clients report the problem on time, it is possible to get out of this situation and get back to normal life. It will take a lot of energy from the family members and the professionals, but it will help to save lives.

References

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Bonilla, E. D., Del Aguila, C. L., Wetzel, D., Scott, E. M., & Bonilla, S. C. (2017). Eating disorders: Diagnosis and prosthodontic management. BAOJ Dentistry, 3, 1-12.

Dimitropoulos, G., Landers, A. L., Freeman, V., Novick, J., Garber, A., & Le Grange, D. (2018). An open trial of family-based treatment of anorexia nervosa for transition age youth. Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 27(1), 50-61.

Mårild, K., Størdal, K., Bulik, C. M., Rewers, M., Ekbom, A., Liu, E., & Ludvigsson, J. F. (2017). Celiac disease and anorexia nervosa: A nationwide study. Pediatrics, 139(5), e20164367. Web.

Mehler, P. S., & Brown, C. (2015). Anorexia nervosa–medical complications. Journal of eating disorders, 3(1), 11-19.

Riva, G. (2016). Neurobiology of anorexia nervosa: Serotonin dysfunctions link self-starvation with body image disturbances through an impaired body memory. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 10, 600. Web.