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   Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is an emotional illness in which a person refuses to eat. It occurs chiefly among adolescent girls and young women. The word anorexia means without appetite, but anorexics may be extremely hungry most of the time. They avoid food for psychological reasons. 

Some anorexics experience bouts of  bulimia --an overwhelming craving for food--during which they consume large amounts of food. Afterward, they make themselves vomit. 

The chief physical symptom of anorexia nervosa is severe weight loss, involving more than 25 per cent of the body weight. Other symptoms include low blood pressure, slow heartbeat, and growth of fine hair on the body. In adolescents, the start of puberty may be delayed. Female anorexics may not begin to menstruate, or their menstrual periods may stop. The disorder also affects the personality. Many anorexics isolate themselves from their family and friends. Most victims seem unaware of their condition. They consider themselves healthy, or even overweight. 

Doctors disagree about the cause of anorexia nervosa. Some psychiatrists believe that anorexics try to starve themselves in order to avoid growing into adults. Other experts suggest that anorexics want to gain attention and a sense of being special. 

Treatment for anorexia nervosa may include hospitalization, psychotherapy, and medication. Anorexics should be hospitalized if they suffer malnutrition. Some doctors recommend that the patient's family also undergo therapy. Most anorexics can be cured if they receive prompt treatment. However, the disease is fatal in some cases.


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