mally normal weight for age and height Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though underweight. Disturbance in the way in which one’s body weight or shape is experienced, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation, or denial of the seriousness of the current low body weight. This condition is both a physical illness and a psychiatric illness. Anorexia nervosa can be a very severe illness, including a risk of death from starvation. This illness occurs most often in young women. About 5% to 10% of people with anorexia nervosa are men (Larson).
Anorexia nervosa means in Greek and Latin roots lack of appetite of nervous origin. Usually appears in early or middle adolescence. A girl or young woman begins to starve herself and sometimes exercise compulsively as well. Her weight falls and her health deteriorates, but she continues to deny that her behavior is abnormal or dangerous. She may say she feels or looks fat, although everyone else can see that she is gaunt. To conceal her weight loss from parents and others, she may wear baggy clothes or secretly pocket and discard food instead of eating it. Despite her refusal to eat and despite the misleading term anorexia, her appetite is usually normal, at least at first. Her reasons for rejecting food are a mystery that researchers are still trying to solve (Anorexia).
According to the current diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association, a woman is suffering from clinical anorexia, not just dieting or fasting, when her weight has fallen to 15% below the normal range and she has not menstruated for at least three months. Sometimes the diagnosis is made because of drowsiness and lethargy that are affecting her schoolwork. Other symptoms are dry skin, brittle nails and hair, languor (fine downy hair on the limbs), constipation, anemia, and swollen joints. The level of female hormones in the blood of an anorectic woman falls drastically, and her sexual development may be delayed. Her heart rate and blood pressure can become dangerously low, and loss of potassium in the blood may cause irregular heart rhythms (Bower).
Experience has shown that the more distorted an idea the victim has of herself, the more difficult the cure, and the longer the condition goes untreated the more uncertain the outcome. Anorexia nervosa must never be lightly dismissed as a passing phase, which time and maturity will cure. A person that is anorexic is not nature. Spontaneous cure rarely happen because the victim takes a positive pride in sustaining her hunger. The longer the illness lasts, more weight is lost. This deepens in the anorexic the illusion that being thin is making her significant and outstanding as an individual (Cavendish, 63).
Some believe that eating disorders are becoming more common, but the evidence from systematic surveys is inconclusive. What is clear is that fewer cases are going undiagnosed. One reason is that the average age of puberty in American women has retreated three or four years during this century, probably because of better nutrition and less infectious disease. That means a girl is more likely to develop anorexia while she is still living with her parents, and the disorder is more likely to be noticed and acknowledged as the serious problem it is. As social critics like to point out, drawing a line between eating disorders and the consequences of normal, socially approved dieting is not easy. Many women have symptoms that resemble anorexia in milder forms they may be losing too much weight but still menstruating, or binge eating without vomiting or using laxatives, or bingeing less often than twice a week (Macmillian). According to one estimate, more than two-thirds of college women indulge in an eating binge once a year, 40% at least once a month, and 20% once a week. As many as 4% of all adults (60% of them women) and 30% of the seriously overweight are thought to be binge eaters. Binge eating without attempts to compensate by vomiting or using laxatives is one of the conditions included in the current APA diagnostic manual under the label eating disorders not otherwise specified.
One cause of eating