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Stress leads to huge rise in anorexia cases

By Christine Cai (Shanghai Daily)

08:23, March 27, 2012

CASES of anorexia nervosa rose four-fold in the city during the past decade due to the increasing number of girls and women pursuing a skinny image or under high stress, experts from the Shanghai Mental Health Center said yesterday.

About 30 to 60 percent of females in China at puberty or early adulthood are on diets and 7 to 12 percent of them are on extreme diets. The latter group are likely to develop anorexia nervosa, the mental illness with the highest mortality rate due to physical complications and suicide. An estimated 80 percent to 90 percent of people with anorexia nervosa have depression.

Mental health experts said only 45 percent of doctors in comprehensive hospitals can recognize the illness, and that a network of psychiatrists, other doctors and teachers should be established for early detection.

"Patients with anorexia nervosa have different symptoms, and many in the early stage usually visit comprehensive hospitals, which only treat physical problems without realizing their psychological problems," said Dr Chen Jue at Shanghai Mental Health Center.

The facility has started training courses for doctors at comprehensive hospitals and psychological training for teachers at schools.

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