Biochemical Explanation For Anorexia

8 AO1s and 16 AO2s. A* essay. Set out in table for easy memorising.

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  • Created on: 21-06-12 17:07
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Biochemical Explanations For Anorexia ­ Andrew F
AO1's AO2's
1 Anorexia nervosa, defined by the DSM is 1 Anorexia is difficult to define as some of the
characterised by five major signs anxiety symptoms can be hard to detect and
over body shape, an irrational fear of anorexics employ a great deal of secrecy to
weight gain, a body weight of below 85% control their eating behaviour.
the ideal body BMI, body dysmorphia and
2 Through biochemical investigation, 2 However, current research is not clear
evidence has been given to show that whether the level of this neurotransmitter is
anorexics have faulty levels of serotonin. too high or too low.
3 Also, there is no conclusive evidence to
prove that the level of serotonin causes this
disorder as it is possible that the disorder
leads to faulty production.
3 Kaye tested urine samples from Anorexics 4 However, this evidence generalises these
and Bulimics and found that both complex disorders to a reductionist
conditions were associated with low levels explanation. It is more likely that erratic
of serotonin. eating patterns cause faulty neurotransmitter
5 Despite this, research using PET scans
support that serotonin is involved,
suggesting that anorexics have fewer
serotonin receptors than the norm. This
illustrates that low serotonin activity is
6 However, there is conflicting evidence that
suggests it is high serotonin levels which
cause Anorexia. It has been found that high
serotonin levels correlate with anxiety and it
is proposed that anorexics control this
anxiety through eating behaviour.
7 However, the highest serotonin levels were
found in bulimics, who do not control food
intake. Therefore, although there is a
biochemical element to both anorexia and
bulimia, the complexities of the disorders
cannot be explained by a single reductionist
approach involving neurotransmitters.
8 Also, this study only provides correlational
evidence, which is not causal. Therefore the
research lacks validity.
9 Furthermore, drug studies provide evidence
for the link between high serotonin and
anorexia. Fenfluramine is a drug used to
control eating in obese people which
increases serotonin activity. This suggests
that high levels cause people to stop eating.
10 However this evidence does not necessarily
apply to anorexics because the drug is not
designed for them.
4 A possible explanation for the effect of 11 Support for the VMH comes from

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Biochemical Explanations For Anorexia ­ Andrew F
increased serotonin involves both the Hetherington and Ranson, who lesioned the
lateral hypothalamus and the ventromedial VMH in rats, causing the rats to eat more
hypothalamus. If serotonin triggers the and become obese. They concluded that the
VMH and/or suppresses the LH, the ventromedial hypothalamus is responsible
individual will feel satiated and eating will for satiety.
not occur.…read more


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