Research paper on the causes and effects of anorexia nervosa

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Sample Answer

The Causes and Effects of Anorexia Nervosa


Anorexia nervosa is a serious eating disorder characterized by an extreme restriction of food intake, leading to dangerously low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight, and a distorted body image. This disorder affects individuals of all ages, but it is most commonly diagnosed in adolescence and young adulthood. Understanding the causes and effects of anorexia nervosa is crucial in order to develop effective prevention and treatment strategies for those affected by this debilitating condition.

Causes of Anorexia Nervosa

Biological Factors

One of the leading causes of anorexia nervosa is believed to be genetic predisposition. Research has shown that individuals with a family history of eating disorders are at a higher risk of developing anorexia nervosa themselves. Additionally, alterations in brain chemistry, particularly involving neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, may play a role in the development of this disorder.

Psychological Factors

Psychological factors also contribute significantly to the development of anorexia nervosa. Individuals who struggle with low self-esteem, perfectionism, anxiety, and a need for control are more likely to develop disordered eating behaviors. Traumatic life events, such as abuse or bullying, can also trigger the onset of anorexia nervosa in vulnerable individuals.

Sociocultural Factors

The societal emphasis on thinness and beauty in the media can contribute to the development of anorexia nervosa. Constant exposure to images of unrealistic body ideals can lead individuals to internalize these standards and engage in extreme dieting behaviors in an effort to achieve the perceived ideal body shape.

Effects of Anorexia Nervosa

Physical Effects

The physical effects of anorexia nervosa can be severe and life-threatening. Individuals with this disorder often experience malnutrition, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and hormonal disturbances. Long-term consequences may include heart problems, gastrointestinal issues, osteoporosis, and infertility.

Psychological Effects

Anorexia nervosa not only affects the body but also has profound psychological effects. Individuals with this disorder commonly experience depression, anxiety, social withdrawal, and obsessive thoughts about food, weight, and body image. Cognitive impairments, such as difficulty concentrating and memory problems, are also common in individuals with anorexia nervosa.

Social Effects

The social effects of anorexia nervosa can be devastating. Relationships with family and friends may become strained due to the individual’s preoccupation with food and weight. Social isolation is common among individuals with anorexia nervosa, as they may avoid social gatherings that involve food or situations that could trigger anxiety about eating.


In conclusion, anorexia nervosa is a complex and multifaceted eating disorder with a range of causes and effects. Understanding the interplay of biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors in the development of this disorder is essential for effective prevention and treatment. By addressing the underlying causes and providing comprehensive support for individuals affected by anorexia nervosa, we can work towards improving outcomes and promoting recovery for those struggling with this challenging condition.

Remember that seeking help from healthcare professionals is crucial for anyone experiencing symptoms of anorexia nervosa or any other eating disorder. Early intervention and comprehensive treatment are key to overcoming this serious mental health condition.

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