You might have heard of a term called ‘anorexia’.
What is Anorexia?
This is one of the most common eating disorders.
It is even life-threatening and many people associate it to having low body-weight.
But there is much more to anorexia than that.
This article gives you a complete overview on what is anorexia, more commonly called ‘Anorexia Nervosa’.
Why is it common?
It is a psychological condition in which you will have weight issues but also suffer from other disorders like personality trait concerns.
If you suffer from anorexia, you will face two main struggles- fear of gaining weight and having a distorted body image.
You will constantly think that you are overweight, despite the opposite as you have intense fear of gaining weight.
Suffering from this disorder means you will always fantasize of a perfect ‘thin’ figure which is not healthy and requires unhealthy, abnormal eating patterns.
Anorexia nervosa is interchangeable with the term anorexia.
Symptoms of Anorexia
We will now focus on the different kinds of symptoms you need to watch out for. These are the key leading to the diagnosis of this disorder.
There are emotional and behavioural issues associating to this condition as well as the physical health.
Aside from a strong fear of gaining weight, you are constantly in a worrying state and some people continue to disguise the problem the thinness and eating problems.
- Extreme weight loss o
- Not making expected developmental weight gains
- Thin appearance
- Abnormal blood counts
- Feeling fatigue
- Having insomnia
- Feeling faint
- Bluish discoloration of the fingers
- Hair thinning and breaking
- Soft, downy hair
- Menstruation cycle mess-up
- Having abdominal pain
- Dry or yellowish skin
- Cold concerns
- Irregular heart rhythms
- Low blood pressure
- High dehydration
- Swelling of arms or legs
- Eroded teeth
- Calluses on the knuckles from induced vomiting
You also face strong emotional and behavioral symptoms which includes:
Emotional and Behavioral Symptoms
- You will impose restrictions on food intake
- Obsessed with rigorous exercise regime
- Self-induced vomiting is a common act
Emotional and behavioral signs and symptoms may include:
- Preoccupation with food
- You will involve yourself in cooking heavy meals for others but wont eat yourself
- Frequently skipping meals or refusing to eat
- Denial of hunger or making excuses for not eating
- You will obsess over eating only foods which are low in fat and calories
- Adopt rigid eating meals
- Spitting food our after chewing
- You avoid eating in public places
- Stay in denial that you have consumed good enough calories of the day
- Keeping a constant check in the mirror on how you look
- Wearing layers of clothing
- Lacking emotions
- Having Insomnia
- Exercising excessively
- Lack of interest in sex
- Adapting full withdrawal from social gatherings
- Constantly finding flaws in the body
- Avoiding eating in public
Types of Anorexia
Now when we talk about anorexia or anorexia nervosa, there are two major types we can qualify them onto:
- Binge or Purge – this is the eating disorder in which you will purge after taking in food. This is done so to counteract the act of gaining weight from consuming calories. You will feel guilt of taking that food in and will restrict the ingestion. Sometimes this is coupled with exercising heavily and vomiting as well as taking laxatives.
- Restrictive – it is a disorder where you will restrict yourself from consumption of indulgent eating completely. This means controlling the quantity of food which is high on fats and sugar. You will consume very few calories and even adapt self-starvation which can become very dangerous.
Now we will talk about what causes this disorder?
Anorexia Nervosa Causes
Why does one person have this condition and another doesn’t?
It is not known what makes you prone to being anorexic.
However if you are holding a long-term negative image about your body, it’s likely you will suffer
from this condition in future.
Such people form an unrealistic image of the ‘perfect body’.
And how they eat, behave and socialize associates with this concept in their minds.
Here’s a breakdown of the factors which play a role:
Your genetic build-up and hormonal standing also plays a major role in your diagnosis of this disorder. There is also a link between anorexia and serotonin, however more research is needed on this concept.
Much thanks to our societal impact which puts a lot of emphasis on the unrealistic ‘perfect’ body image, this is one of the leading contributors towards anorexia.
You feel under pressure to look thin which means to look good. With the huge splurge of publications promoting this idea with visuals of models on different media streams who are under weight, you get this huge desire to look like them and become popular too.
This condition can also become an obsession if you are having obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This means you are already prone to having strong obsessions and compulsions. It can also set into your system if you went through:
- physical or sexual abuse
- faced relationship problems
- bullying at one point in time
- constant state of pressure
We will now touch about the certain risk factors which are known to exist with this condition:
One thing is known- this condition is more common in girls and women.
However according to recent research, it has been determined that even men and boys are developing this disorder and this is more associating towards the environmental factors they face.
This includes the rising trend of fit and slim men, where being subjected to looks is on the rise.
Also it is becoming more common in teenagers, as they too face peer pressure and can become overly sensitive to criticism.
Let’s look at the factors which are generally known to increase the risk of anorexia:
Genes- if you have a specific gene build-up, you are more prone to contracting this disease. Also if you have a parent or sibling who has this disorder, you can very well inherit it.
Dieting- this is a common yet very dangerous trend. If you even involve in it lightly, chances are you will develop this disorder imminently. Also starvation is a rising trend which is masked under the name of ‘fad diet plans’.
It actually affects how your brain functions and it will significantly impact your mood, thinking patterns and will also reduce your appetite and hit on your anxiety levels.
Transition effects- having a change in your daily routine causes disastrous impact on your health. Be it moving to a new school, starting a new job or facing the death of a close one, all these can play a strong impact on your life.
Now we will look into the treatment options and prevention tactics you can adapt:
Treatment for Anorexia Nervosa
One of the major options for people with anorexia is to create a treatment plan is to adapt therapy. There are various kinds:
Be it individual, family, or group therapies, you can speak to your doctor to know which treatment works for you best and can be an integral part of the treatment. Let’s look into each, one by one:
In this kind, your unhealthy thoughts and views are treated. Your behaviour pattern is also looked into. It is also called cognitive behavioural therapy and aims for you to understand and manage your uncontrollable strong emotions in a healthy and better way.
This therapy involves with creating a healthy track with the family members involvement. Your loved ones create a strong channel of communication to keep you up to speed on your eating habits and lifestyle habits. It is also provides a cushion of support to help family members who are coping with this condition.
Group therapy allows people with anorexia nervosa to interact with others who have the same disorder. But it can sometimes lead to competition to be the thinnest. To avoid that, it’s important that you attend group therapy that is led by a qualified medical professional.
Sometimes all you need is a good dose of medication which will get your behavioural issues in order. While it isn’t possible for a medication to cure this condition, you can manage its symptoms better with antidepressants.
Moreover, they help you with trying to cope with anxiety and depression, two side effects very common with anorexia. They make you feel better and cope better.
However the medicines will not change your need to lose weight or look perfect.
Sometimes your condition will require to hospitalize you. The effects can become very severe and you would need round the clock medical attention.
Moreover, In certain cases, you will also to take on fluids and make use of feeding tube, in case you are feeling dehydration.
If you are feeling heavy psychological effects, which includes refusal to eat, will force intensive treatment.
We will now take a quick look at the complications arising from this condition:
There are many complications associating to this condition. It can be very fatal too. Some of the common complications are:
- Heart problems includes abnormal heart rhythms or heart failure
- Bone loss (osteoporosis)
- Fracture risk
- Women can face delay in period
- Kidney issues
Other mental health disorders which can take place are:
- Mood disorders
- Personality disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorders
- Substance misuse
- Suicidal thoughts
While it isn’t possible for you to completely get rid of this disorder from medication. You can still very well manage it when you look out for the symptoms.
Therefore you can get better chances of recovery with a quick diagnosis.
Anorexia is nothing to be alarmed about. If you have a loved one who you are sensing is overly obsessed with weight loss and excessive exercising, speak to them.
In other words, let them know it is okay to talk about it and guide them out to seek professional help.