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Anorexia: Does It Hurt?




Anorexia:   Does It Hurt?

According to Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Psychology, eating disorders are “any of several psychological disorders characterized by serious disturbances of eating behavior” (np).   One of the most dangerous eating disorders is anorexia nervosa.   Philip Mehler, MD, defines anorexia nervosa (AN) as an illness associated with many “medical complications that are directly attributable to caloric restriction and weight loss (1048).   This illness is usually associated with teenagers and young women.   Anorexia does hurt.   It can damage a person physically and mentally.

The physical effects of anorexia range from minor exterior changes to major interior changes to death.   Anorexia can cause changes to the external body.   Soft, fine hair can begin to grow over a lot of the skin area, dry, flaky skin may develop, and there could be a loss of scalp hair.   A person with anorexia is often very sensitive to cold (Graves 37).   After a person deprives her body of food, the body will eventually start to slow down to preserve energy.   When the body weight becomes severely low, the body will begin to shut down internally, “Starvation induces protein and fat catabolism that leads to loss of cellular volume and atrophy of the heart, brain, liver, intestines, kidneys, and muscles.   The number of organ systems adversely affected increases with the severity of weight loss” (Mehler 1048).

The heart can be damaged structurally and functionally.   Cardiac muscle will waste away, the heart itself will become smaller, and the chambers of the heart will not be able to hold the normal amount of blood, “Pericardial effusion has been reported in adolescents with AN.   A study of 128 female adolescents with AN revealed a pericardial effusion inn 22 percent” (Mehler 1048).   The function of the heart can also be damaged by anorexia.   These changes include low heart rate (bradycardia)and low blood pressure (hypotention) (1048)....

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