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The effect of Anorexia Nervosa


Figure1: How thin you wanna be?


Anorexia nervosa is a disease with extreme dieting caused by the fear of food in mental aspect.  Stop eating food and obvious weight loss are the most direct reaction of anorexia nervosa.  It affects on women the most, especially the women between age of 12 to 24, also boys and men could suffer from anorexia nervosa, they are desire to lose their weight, by starving and overtraining themselves, usually they think they are fat but they aren’t.  It cause disorder in body function, faintness, depression, and irregular heartbeats are the common symptoms in anorexia nervosa, even result in pass out because of extreme starvation and tired.  Further more, 10% to 15% patients in anorexia died because the torture on both physical and mental health.[1]  Those phenomena demonstrate a serious issue: Anorexia nervosa not only brings patients to physical pain, but also frustration on mental health.

It is necessary to spread the knowledge about this disease, to let people know the effect of anorexia nervosa can help us to avoid having it.  In the following content, I will explain the affection in detail, at first I will list some visible changes of human body, which means the impact on body health, how these symptom affect people’s life; then I will show some picture to present the potential threat in internal body structure, If anorexia develop in a serious situation, the cardiac function weakness would cause sudden death; finally, It is about the effect on psychology way, some examples are going to support me to demonstrate how these patients have been successful struggle with anorexia nervosa, in this part I aim to point out the mindset play an important role during the treatment and recovering process, and what is the trend of emotion changes because of anorexia.

How Anorexia affect people’s life

Jen’s story

Figure 2: a worry mom


It was 6 months ago when I realized my daughter, Jen, had an eating disorder. Jen has always been a picky eater. But I started to see that she moved food around her plate. And she never ate very much. She exercised all the time — even when she was sick. And she was sick a lot. She became very skinny and pale. Her hair thinned. Jen became moody and seemed sad — I thought that’s what teens act like. But once I put the signs together, I talked to Jen about anorexia. She denied she had a problem. But I knew she needed help. I took her to our doctor, and she asked me to put Jen in the hospital. Jen’s treatment helped her return to a normal weight. It’s been a tough road since then for all of us, but Jen is back home now. She is still seeing her doctors, and may need help for some time. But she’s doing much better.[2]

Since anorexia nervosa spread widely in different ages of people, and influence our life subtly, we started take this disease seriously.  The experience I gave above interprets the concern about anorexia: 85 to 90 percentage patients are teenage girls and young women, because they desire to become more thin and beautiful, refuse to eat in regular way.  Therefore even they know they are having anorexia nervosa, they may deny or try to ignore it.  In fact, this action will result in more severe situation, the devastation on both physical and psychological side.

The obvious symptoms of anorexia are extreme thin and looks tired, also some other physical changes such as dry hair, unstable mood, sick a lot etc.  All these symptoms are going to make your life routine irregular, and your parents are worry about your health.  When you feel like your diet change in disorder, or any other related symptoms like anorexia nervosa, do not conceal to your family, it would be a great help in healing if find out early.

Anorexia also have affect on gravida, if a woman is having anorexia nervosa, according to her abnormal period, it might be hard for her to having a baby; if the woman covered from anorexia, and regain her normal weight, there is a great chance to having a baby.  However, if a woman having anorexia during her pregnancy, it will result her loss of baby; or she can keep the baby but need to be born early, and hurt baby’s healthy as well.[3]

Furthermore, anorexia not only effect the body, but also effect patients social life.  For instance, a person who is having anorexia, and cannot have a normal weight as usual, therefore the limitation on physical activity will decrease the sport communication with friends; or not participate the dinner with friends because of the disease.  With the less social activities, finally result in gloomy mood and develop the family problems: parents might blame themselves that they are not took a good care of their child.  Anorexia can mess up one’s social life and cause depressed at the end.

Serious potential threat in body system

Figure 3: Whole body are being affected by anorexia nervosa


Anorexia nervosa effect people from head to toe, the most serious impact is cardiovascular disease.  Based on the study, anorexia nervosa has one of the highest death toll in any other psychological disorder, a life would be droop because of anorexia nervosa.  In plenty of clinical situation and trials, experts provided facts that anorexia nervosa can result in heart disease, arrhythmia even sudden death. They mentioned that: “Left ventricular dimensions appear to normalize with weight restoration. One case has been reported of a patient with anorexia nervosa who died of cardiovascular collapse and septicaemia; postmortem examination showed substantial loss of cardiac muscle similar to that found in death from starvation due to other causes.”[4]  Anorexia nervosa not just a common disease as we thought, it could result someone’s death just because refuse to eat food.  Without food and nutrition support your body, whole body system start to use stored energy to support your body to operate, when the stored energy has been work out, each part of the body began to failure, especially your heart system become weak.  Even during the recovering process, if the heart is too weak to stand the therapy, the medical complications will occur.

Effect of anorexia nervosa in psychological way


Figure 4: Fairburn and colleagues psychological model of anorexia


“Adolescents with eating behaviors associated with anorexia are at high risk for anxiety and depression in young adulthood. Patients with anorexia are at risk for suicidal behavior or attempts. Alcohol and drug abuse are also common in patients with anorexia nervosa.”[5]

Psychology also has been affected because of anorexia nervosa, even hard to recover than physical pain, people in anorexia always want to pursuit perfect body shape, they will still think they are not thin enough even in anorexia nervosa.  When someone is having anorexia nervosa, the torture on body result the emotion changes irregular, some times anxiety some times depress, and become less confident as usual.  By a personal experience, who is a professor in Oxford University, she has been recover from anorexia, and when she was struggle with it, she found out that mental health needs to be more enlighten during the healing process.  If mental health cannot be recover completely, anorexia still can be reappear in future, therefore the timely mentality adjustment play an important role in anorexia patients.  Less social communication and painful on body, the desperate and nonconfidence patients even want to suicide themselves.

Figure 5: Don’t refuse to eat.


After you read these information above, I hope they can help you to popularize the knowledge about anorexia nervosa: how it affects a person’s body and daily life.  One day if you find out any signs or symptoms of anorexia, do not be panic or desperate, go to see doctor can see what is the result.  Most patients are covered from anorexia as long as stop refuse to eat, it is possible to be cure if find out early and take therapy as soon as possible, mostly focus on your mindset, try to not think anything negative, be confidence and trust yourself can healing completely from anorexia nervosa, I wish one day that not only your physical torture stop, regain your healthy body, but also be stronger on your mental.

Word count: 1380

1.  Bulimia Anorexia Nervosa Association, “What is Anorexia Nervosa.” (2008), accessed 19 March 2012.

2.   U.S department of Health and Human Services, “Anorexia nervosa fact sheet” (15 June 2009), accessed 19 March 2012.

3.  “Anorexia nervosa answer sheet”

4.    A. P. Winston and P. J. Stafford, “Cardiovascular Effects of Anorexia Nervosa,” European Eating Disorders Review 8, (2000): 177

5.  “Anorexia Nervosa” New York Times, 18 February 2011


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