Biological explanations of anorexia

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  • Created by: jess
  • Created on: 24-05-14 18:54
Serotonin
disturbances in levels of neurotransmitter serotonin are a characteristic of individuals with eating disorders
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Bailer
compared serotonin activity in women recovering from restricting-type AN (restricted food intake), and binge eating → found higher levels of serotonin activity in women who showed the most anxiety which suggested that persistent disruption of seroto
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Dopamine
recent studies have suggested a role for dopamine in anorexia
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Kaye
used PET scan to compare dopamine activity in brains of 10 women who were recovering from AN and 12 healthy women In AN women, found an over activity in dopamine receptors in basal ganglia (area of brain where dopamine plays part in interpretation of
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Refute for serotonin
SSRIs which alters levels of available brain serotonin are not effective for anorexia patients
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Tannenhaus
found that SSRIs may help to elevate mood and reduce some of the obsessive symptoms of anorexia
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Castro - Fornieles
found that adolescent girls with AN had higher levels of homovanillic acid (HVA), which is a waste product of dopamine, than a control group. Improvement in weight levels associated with normalisation of HVA levels
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Wang et al
found that obese individuals had lower than normal levels of dopamine, suggesting an inverse relationship between levels of dopamine and body weight
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Reproductive suppression hypothesis
females in ancestral environment had a delayed onset of sexual maturation when conditions were not conducive to their offspring’s survival
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Surbey
AN may be variation to this adaptation, causing females to alter the timing of their reproduction when they feel unable to cope with the biological, social and emotional responsibilities of womanhood
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Support for reproductive suppression hypothesis
observation that onset of puberty is delayed in prepubertal girls with AN. Also, as amenorrhea is a typical characteristic of AN, this means that reproduction is suspended in AN females
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Limitations of evolutionary explanations of AN
we might question how symptoms of AN would’ve been passed on through generations of natural selection, particularly as AN decreases fertility and makes reproduction more difficult, and may even kill the individual with the condition
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Gender bias
reproduction suppression account of AN doesn’t explain why AN would develop in men.According to recent statistics, 25% of adults with eating disorders are male, suggesting that AN is not solely a female disorder and therefore cannot be explained jus
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Treatment implications
an advantage of these explanations of AN is that people realise they are dealing with a dysfunctional biology (which is treatable), rather than a dysfunctional family (which isn't) - reduces guilt felt by many parents that they caused the devel of AN
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Bailer

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compared serotonin activity in women recovering from restricting-type AN (restricted food intake), and binge eating → found higher levels of serotonin activity in women who showed the most anxiety which suggested that persistent disruption of seroto

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Dopamine

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Kaye

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Refute for serotonin

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