Saturday, November 16, 2019

New Genetic Links Reveal Anorexia Could Be Much More Than a Psychiatric Condition

Most psychiatric disorders are not usually thought to be associated with genetics. When thinking about any psychiatric disorder it is frequently thought to be the cause of mental and behavioral problems that impede an individual’s personal functions. However, in the case of anorexia nervosa, it was recently discovered that this disorder is not just a psychiatric problem.

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that is identified by an extremely low body mass index, an unwillingness to eat, and distorted body images. Most people with anorexia nervosa view themselves as overweight when in reality they are extremely underweight. This disorder affects about 0.5-3.7 percent of women in America.

Image result for anorexia nervosa stats
With anorexia nervosa being a non-substance abuse psychiatric disorder with the highest mortality rate, there is a lot of stigma around it. A large number of parents of anorexia nervosa patients express their concern for their children or they try to help them as much as possible. Because of these concerned parents, Cynthia Bulik, a professor of eating disorders from the University of North Carolina put together a research team and discovered that eating disorders are heritable. With her research team, she studied identical and fraternal twins and discovered that it has a 50 to 60 percent heritability. Further research was done by Bulik and her team also suggested that there are eight genetic variants that are associated with anorexia. This research was done with tens of thousands of people and the genetic variants found may increase vulnerability to the illness. This research has not found out exactly how these genetic variants contribute to the increase in vulnerability to anorexia but they may be linked to metabolic problems.

I thought this article was interesting because of how psychiatric disorders are linked to genetics. It was interesting to see how recent research has been revolutionizing the potential causes of psychiatric problems. I look forward to more research done on this subject in terms of treating these disorders not just as psychological or psychiatric.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Michelle!

    This is an incredibly interesting article, especially since Bulik found that genetic components play into a disorder that is thought to be solely psychological. I can't believe that there are 8 genetic components contributing to the disease, but it will be interesting to see how exactly the genetics play a role in the development of the eating disorder. Hopefully this research will also lead to studies on genetics and other related eating disorders.