Anorexia nervosa is a disease that is primarily caused by a distorted perception of one’s physical appearance. Anorexia is defined by Dr. Laura Hill, a “clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the Ohio State University Medical Center and Harding Hospital,” as “a person’s inability to cope with life stressors” (Twitty, 2000). Anorexia nervosa is a condition in which a person believes he or she is too fat and needs to starve in order to lose weight. In order to accomplish this, the person starves until the body begins to reveal ribs and skeletons, but the person is still unsatisfied and continues to starve until death. This is essentially a psychological disorder that wreaks havoc on a person’s health and leads to death. Anorexia nervosa sufferers are unable to stop dieting once they have reached their ideal body weight. Their weight falls below what is appropriate for their age and height. Still, the patient believes that if he or she eats, he or she will gain weight and, as a result, lose their attractiveness. Excessive exercise, dieting, and medication are some of the most common methods for losing weight.
Anorexia Nervosa means “nervous loss of appetite”. This definition is not particularly good, since it is based on misunderstandings. The people who suffer from Anorexia Nervosa do not at all have lack of appetite, they are only scared of putting on weight. Therefore, the term “selfstarving” would be more suitable, or even better expressed “weightfobia”. (Gehlin, 2008).
Anorexia nervosa was originally described in 1684, but it wasn’t officially diagnosed until 1870. (Gehlin, 2008). The emergence of this new health problem was linked to the changes that occurred in society throughout the ages. Young ladies started to idolize ladies who were exceedingly slender and intelligent. Slimness became the standard of beauty, and a woman had to be slim to be considered lovely. The appearance obsessed society has influenced much of the history of anorexia nervosa. That is why anorexia nervosa is more prevalent nowadays than it has ever been before. Another example of culture’s influence in the development of anorexia nervosa is the fact that the great majority of anorexia nervosa sufferers are models in the fashion industry, which sets the trends for the general public to follow. To be trendy in today’s world, you must be skinny. Slimming down is promoted in the media. To obtain the perfect figure, people use a variety of slimming tactics, some of which may lead to eating disorders like anorexia nervosa. Aside from the perception that being slender is something to be proud of, the contemporary age’s heavy dependence on technology lessens the body’s need for nourishment since no energy is spent performing things manually. A person’s existence in the current period is inextricably linked to the media. The media’s focus on exercise and fitness naturally instills a desire to be clever, and the eating patterns that result enhance a person’s vulnerability to anorexia nervosa. Because of the media’s effect on society, anorexia nervosa has become a significant communal concern.
The community health nurse must demonstrate a unique and higher degree of health care while treating an anorexia nervosa patient. The role of the community health nurse should be more like to that of a counselor than that of a traditional health care professional. To begin therapy, the patient must be made aware that he or she is unwell, both medically and psychologically, since patients often deny having any condition at all. The majority of people do not seek treatment until their condition has become exceedingly visible and dangerously severe.
Healthypeople.gov is an organization that establishes national health goals. Some of the objectives identified by Healthypeople.gov (n.d.) for 2020 are:
- Increasing the adolescent population that takes part in the out-of-school and extracurricular activities.
- Increasing the schools in proportion that implement breakfast programs in schools.
- Increasing the adolescents in proportion that go through a complete wellness examination in the last year.
Eating disorders have long been an issue all over the Ohio State. “According to the American Anorexia Bulimia Association, Inc. (AABA), eating disorders — anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder are psychiatric illnesses that affect over five million American women and men” (Twitty, 2000). In the same report by Twitty (2000), AABA states that 1 per cent teenage girls in the US become a victim of anorexia nervosa, as a consequence of which, 10 per cent lose their life. Children acquire this disease upon the commencement of their menstrual cycle, i.e. around the age of 13 and 14 years.
Prevention is not possible in every case, though a vast majority of the cases can be prevented through encouraging the victims to adopt realistic and healthy behaviors towards diet and weight. This can often be achieved through talk therapies. Primary prevention can be made by encouraging the victims to eat through ads displayed on billboards and TV. The more the patients would read and see information regarding anorexia nervosa, the more likely they are to realize that they are the victims too. This realization is the first step towards prevention. Secondary prevention can be made by screening. One way to screen is to send the community health nurses to schools to look out for early symptoms of anorexia nervosa in the students. Tertiary prevention is essentially meant for an individual who has already acquired anorexia nervosa. Such patients need to go through the complete rehabilitation process, talk therapy and counseling in order to be convinced to come out of the dreadful condition.
Anorexia nervosa is a psychological disease that forbids the victim from eating at all, as a result of which, the body starts to feed on the stored fat and the victim loses weight till death. This is a rare disease, and is more common in teenager girls than boys. It is a community health issue and is largely, an outcome of the culture and social trends. In order to treat the patient of anorexia nervosa, the patient’s relatives and friends need to make the victim break the diet. The community health nurse has to counsel the patient psychologically in order to make him/her come out of the disease.
- Gehlin, L. (2008). The History of Anorexia Nervosa and other Eating Disorders. Retrieved from http://web4health.info/en/answers/ed-anorexia-history.htm.
- HealthyPeople.gov (n.d.). Adolescent Health. Retrieved from http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topicsobjectives2020/objectiveslist.aspx?topicId=2.
- Twitty, S. (2000). People often deny weight issues. The Lantern. Retrieved from http://www.thelantern.com/2.1345/people-often-deny-weight-issues-1.100887.