Anorexia Nervosa is a complex eating disorder. It stems from biologic, environmental/social and psychological factors. It can affect both men and women, though statistics have proven that it affects women more often. Many professionals believe that pre-pubescent patients who develop anorexia do so in an effort to compensate for their inability to control their own lives. These patients seem to lack autonomy and feel that the only control they have is what they place into their body. Having control over their food intake and body weight allows for these patients to exert their autonomy in an altered fashion.
Another common cause of anorexia nervosa is the body image that has been paraded around in magazines and in Hollywood. The notion that women/men who are a size 0 are normal, and that women who are a size 6 are overweight is an unacceptable perception of the average women/man. Today’s society has set the standard for poor self-image and unattainable expectations. While there have yet to be any published studies on this specific relationship, there have been many personal interviews of those who are in recovery from anorexia that have identified this reason as the root of their disease. Other environmental factors that may contribute to the development of anorexia nervosa include the societal expectation for thin individuals to be a job duty. For example, in specific industries such as modelling, ballet or other weight-restricted careers there are certain weight requirements that are placed on the contract before hiring. These types of industries indirectly end up promoting eating disorders. Peer pressure can also be a driving environmental factor for adolescent and teenagers developing anorexia nervosa.
Biological factors that may contribute to the development of anorexia nervosa include hormonal imbalance and nutritional/vitamin deficiencies. Anorexia nervosa may have a genetic predisposition, but this relationship is still being heavily researched. There have been some recent studies that have suggested that twins and triplets may have a higher risk of anorexia if the other twin or one of the other triplets have the disorder. There are even studies to suggest that the serotonin transporter gene may have specific variations that suggest the relationship between genetics and anorexia.
There are certain medical conditions that have also been linked to anorexia as well. A few of those disorders usually involve hormonal imbalances or autoimmune diseases. For example, there has been an association between the development of anorexia and the comorbidity of congenital adrenal hyperplasia and/or systemic lupus erythematosus.
These are just a few of the causes of anorexia. It is important to remember that there are many social, environmental, biologic, and/or psychological influences that can predispose patients to the development of anorexia nervosa. It is important to consult a physician to determine if you or someone you know is at risk of developing anorexia. It is a disorder that must be diagnosed in order to prevent life-threatening complications. Therefore, it is imperative to speak with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate individualized care necessary for successful treatment of this disease.