Anorexia: Risk Factors and Causes

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Anorexia nervosa is a kind of eating disorder characterized by an unreasonable dread of food and dangerously low weight. Even when considered underweight, patients with anorexia nervosa have a skewed body image and an intense, obsessive worry about fat. Anorexia nervosa patients do not lose their appetite; they compulsively manage and limit their food intake.

Anorexia nervosa is considered a mental disorder, and it usually begins in a person’s teenage years or early adulthood. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, females account for 85 to 90% of persons suffering from this serious psychiatric condition.

Anorexia Risk Factors

Sex: Anorexia is more frequent in girls and women. On the other hand, boys and men are progressively acquiring eating disorders.

Age: Although anybody of any age may have an eating problem, teens are more likely to acquire anorexia. Teenagers may be particularly vulnerable due to the changes in their bodies throughout puberty. They may also be subjected to tremendous peer pressure and be more sensitive to criticism or even casual remarks about their weight or physical shape.

Family genetics: A person who has a biological sibling or parent who has an eating problem is more likely to acquire the condition.

Weight Changes: When individuals lose weight, whether on purpose or accidentally, such changes may be reinforced by favorable or unfavorable remarks from others, depending on whether weight was lost or gained. Such changes and comments may prompt someone to go on a strict diet.

Life changes: It may cause mental anguish and raise the risk of anorexia nervosa, whether it’s a new school, house, work, a relationship split, or the death or sickness of a loved one.

Professions: Athletes, actors and television personalities, dancers, and models are at a greater risk of anorexia than the general population. Thinness may even be a professional necessity in specific fields. Running, wrestling, skiing, figure skating, and gymnastics are all sports linked to anorexia. Professional men and women may assume that decreasing weight would enhance their performance and go to extremes. By advising young athletes to reduce weight, coaches and parents may unintentionally increase the danger.

Media and Society: A parade of slim models and actresses is routinely shown in the media, like television and fashion publications. However, it is unclear whether the press reflects or indeed influences societal beliefs. In any event, these pictures may give the impression that thinness is synonymous with success and popularity.

Anorexia Causes

Anorexia is caused by complex interweaving social, biological, and psychological variables. Trauma, worry, dread, poor self-esteem, and trouble settling disagreements contribute to this syndrome. It isn’t caused by a lack of will or conduct and isn’t readily controlled.

Concerns about social issues

Many specialists feel that peer pressure, concern with slenderness and attractiveness, attaining autonomy, identity problems, and the steep slope of weight reduction lead to anorexia nervosa. For example, many young girls are congratulated when they lose a small amount of weight, such as 5 pounds, and this praise leads to more significant and more weight loss.

Aspects of genetics

Anorexia nervosa may have a 50-80% heredity factor. Specific genes have been uncovered that may have a role in the onset of this disease.

Psychological aspects

Anorexia nervosa patients are more likely to acquire another mental health issue or vice versa. In the mental health field, co-occurring illnesses are defined as two mental health problems that coincide, with one or both potentially being the cause.

Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia may cause a variety of physical, emotional, and behavioral problems. Being underweight is not usually related with anorexia. Even though some anorexics have lost a significant amount of weight, they are still regarded to be of normal or above-average weight. Atypical anorexia is the name given to this kind of anorexia. Restricting how much and what kind of food you consume to the extent that it interferes with your day-to-day life and mental health is a behavioral indicator of anorexia.

Physical signs and symptoms

You may have continual worries about food, weight, and how your body appears if you have anorexia. The following physical symptoms may occur as a result of anorexia:

  • weight loss
  • hair loss
  • dry skin
  • dry and brittle nails
  • constantly feeling chilly fainting or light-headed

These physical symptoms may be caused by anorexia, however they may not appear in everyone.

Many of the physical symptoms depict situations in which anorexia has caused health concerns due to weight reduction. However, the appearance of anorexia varies from person to person.

Symptoms of mental illness

Anorexia may lead to the adoption of eating rituals to prevent gaining weight. Among the psychological signs and symptoms are:

  • Mood swings caused by continuous thoughts about weight, food, and dieting
  • Feelings of sadness include a lack of emotion or feeling “flat.”
  • Body image distortion anxiety, guilt, irritability, or humiliation (thinking you look larger than you are)

Behavioral signs and symptoms

People with anorexia may feel guilty or secretive about their actions and attempt to conceal them in addition to restricting their food intake. People with anorexia may avoid eating with others, making them feel even more alone.

Anorexia’s behavioral indicators include:

  • avoiding particular kinds of food,
  • regularly eating alone and
  • avoiding meal time with others
  • having a rigorous workout regimen
  • withdrawing from others
  • inflexible thinking around food and weight (i.e., a portion of food is either good or bad)


It’s challenging to treat eating and drug abuse problems simultaneously. First, since drug misuse is not usually recognized, proper therapy cannot be provided in these situations. Second, few institutions are equipped to handle both even when the problem is identified. Frequently, the patient is only treated for one ailment or is compelled to go from one kind of therapy to another to handle both issues. Third, treating merely the eating problem while disregarding the co-occurring ailment has not shown to be successful. Patients with multiple illnesses are more likely to relapse because substance misuse exacerbates and complicates the eating problem.

It is preferable to seek treatment via an inpatient dual diagnosis program if a person with anorexia nervosa also misuses drugs. This sort of rehabilitation institution is prepared to treat both the eating problem and the underlying ailment through a well-developed integrated

treatment plan. The eating problem and drug addiction are treated by the same team of specialists in a comprehensive and coordinated manner, minimizing the gaps when patients get treatment from various institutions or groups.

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