One concept that i find very fascinating from the textbook is eating disorders, particularly anorexia nervosa. Anorexia nervosa is a condition in which a person starves themselves to get thinner. Individuals with anorexia nervosa tend to view themselves as fat even when their bones are showing through their skin. They also have an excessive fear of gaining weight and refuse to maintain a normal body weight for their age and height.
Anorexia is more common in girls than boys and usually begins in adolescence. It is also shown that people who are anorexic and have continued low weight experience a loss of menstrual periods, loss of hair, heart problems, fragile bones, and electrolyte imbalance. Continuous starvation may also lead to death.
Research shows that anorexia is caused by body image dissatisfaction. This may be because of societal pressures to be thin as modern society portrays beauty to be slender females. Women who frequently view television programs which feature extremely thin women tend to have higher levels of body image dissatisfaction. Stressful life events such as the onset of puberty, a breakup, or going away to school can also trigger anorexia.
Research also suggests that anorexia may be caused by genetic factors. A girl who has a sibling with anorexia is 10 to 20 times more likely to develop anorexia herself. People with anorexia also have higher levels of cortisol, a brain hormone related to stress. They also have lower levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, hormones related to feelings of well-being.
I think these research findings are important in combating anorexia nervosa. I have a cousin who is currently in a battle against anorexia and i find that understanding where she's coming from and trying to get to the root of the problem is a more effective way to get through to her. However, i still wonder if a person with anorexia can ever be fully recovered. I've heard of people who struggle for years and years with anorexia. Will they always have this eating disorder hanging over their heads?