Anorexia

About Anorexia

Anorexia (anorexia nervosa) is an eating disorder where patients have unusually low body weight and are scared of gaining weight. Anorexia isn’t really about food. It’s an extremely unhealthy and sometimes life-threatening way to try to cope with emotional problems. They have an abnormal perception of their own body weight and it doesn’t matter how much weight is lost, they continue to be scared of gaining weight. Those suffering from this eating disorder are typically suffering from an extremely low body weight relative to their height and body type. Women and men who suffer from this eating disorder exemplify a fixation with a thin figure and abnormal eating patterns.

They may also try to lose weight by exercising excessively. No matter how much weight is lost, the person continues to fear weight gain. Anorexia nervosa is interchangeable with the term anorexia, which refers to self-starvation and lack of appetite. To prevent weight gain or to continue losing weight, people with anorexia usually severely restrict the amount of food they eat. When you have anorexia, you often equate thinness with self-worth. Anorexia like other eating disorders can take over your life and can be very difficult to overcome.

Types of Anorexia

  1. Binge/Purge Type:

The person struggling with this type of eating disorder will often purge after eating. This alleviates the fear of gaining weight and offsets some of the guilt of having ingested forbidden or highly restricted food.

      2. Restrictive Type:

The individual suffering from restrictive anorexia is often perceived as highly self-disciplined. They restrict the quantity of food, calories and often high fat or high sugar foods.

Both types exhibit similar symptoms such as an irrational fear of weight gain and abnormal eating patterns.

Symptoms of Anorexia

The physical signs and symptoms of anorexia nervosa are related to starvation. Anorexia also includes emotional and behavioral issues involving an unrealistic perception of body weight and an extremely strong fear of gaining weight or becoming fat. people with anorexia often disguise their thinness, eating habits or physical problems. Symptoms include a very low body mass index ( BMI), a refusal to eat and attempts to lose weight, even when body mass index is very low.

  • Extreme weight loss or not making expected developmental weight gains.
  • Chronic restrictive eating or dieting, beyond the norm.
  • Thin appearance.
  • Rapidly losing weight or being significantly underweight and emaciated.
  • Abnormal blood counts.
  • Obsession with calories and fat contents of food.
  • Fatigue.
  • Engaging in ritualistic eating patterns, such as cutting food into tiny pieces, eating alone and/or hiding food.
  • Insomnia.
  • Continued fixation with food, recipes or cooking.
  • Dizziness or fainting.
  • Bluish discoloration of the fingers.
  • An abnormal absence of menstruation or loss of 3 consecutive menstrual cycles.
  • Hair that thins, breaks or falls out (Loss or thinning of hair).
  • Development of lanugo (soft, fine hair that grows on face and body).
  • Reported sensation of feeling cold, particularly in extremities.
  • Constipation and abdominal pain.
  • Avoidance of social functions, family and friends. May become isolated and withdrawn.
  • Dry or yellowish skin.
  • Preoccupation with food, which sometimes includes cooking elaborate meals for others but not eating them.
  • Intolerance of cold.
  • Brittle nails.
  • Irregular heart rhythms.
  • Insomnia.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Infertility.
  • Dry Skin.
  • Dehydration.
  • Bloated or upset stomach.
  • Swelling of arms or legs.
  • Blood pressure.
  • Eroded teeth and calluses on the knuckles from induced vomiting.
  • severe loss of muscle mass.
  • Not wanting to eat in public.
  • Reduced interest in sex.
  • In males, decreased testosterone.

Causes for Anorexia

   No single cause has been identified for anorexia nervosa. It probably happens as a result of biological, environmental and psychological factors.

  • Holding specific ideas regarding beauty and health, which may be influenced by culture or society.
  • Having a high level of emotional restraint or control over their own behavior and expression.
  • Some people may have a genetic tendency toward perfectionism, sensitivity and perseverance.
  • Susceptible to depression and anxiety.
  • Obsessive-compulsive personality traits that make it easier to stick to strict diets and forgo food despite being hungry.
  • Having difficulty handling stress.
  • They may have high levels of anxiety and engage in restrictive eating to reduce it.
  • A negative self image.
  • Modern Western culture emphasizes thinness.
  • Having eating problems during early childhood or infancy.
  • Peer pressure may help fuel the desire to be thin, particularly among young girls.
  • Holding specific ideas regarding beauty and health, which influenced by culture or society.
  • Success and worth are often equated with being thin.
  • Having a high level of emotional restraint or control over own behavior and expression.
  • A fear or exams and pressure to succeed.

Diagnosis

    An early diagnosis and prompt treatment increase the chance of a good outcome.. If your doctor suspects that you have anorexia nervosa he or she will typically do several tests and exams to help pinpoint a diagnosis, rule out medical causes for the weight loss and check for any related complications. A full medical history can help with diagnosis.

  • Physical Exam.This may include measuring your height and weight, heart rate, blood pressure and temperature, skin and nails for problems, listening to your heart and lungs and examining your abdomen.
  • X-rays may be taken to check your bone density, check for stress fractures or broken bones, or check for pneumonia or heart problems.
  • CBC Test.
  • Thyroid Test.
  • Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Treatment:

    Treatment for anorexia is generally done using a team approach, which includes doctors, mental health professionals and dietitians. All with experience in eating disorders. Treatment can involve medication, psychotherapy, family therapy and nutrition counseling. The first goal of treatment is getting back to a healthy weight.

  • To address distorted thinking.
  • Your family, who will likely be involved in helping you maintain normal eating habits.
  • To help the patient develop behavioral changes that will persist in the long term.
  • A psychologist or other mental health professional, who can work with you to develop behavioral strategies to help you return to a healthy weight.
  • To restore body weight to a healthy level.
  • Behavioral therapy ( to help change distorted beliefs and thoughts that maintain restrictive eating ).
  • To treat emotional problems including low self-esteem.

Complications:

Complications can affect every body system, and they can be severe.

  • Kidney Failure.
  • Heart problems, such as mitral valve prolapse, abnormal heart rhythms or heart failure.
  • There is a higher risk of developing leucopenia.
  • Gastrointestinal problems.
  • Personality disorders.
  • loss of bone mass and Hormonal Problems.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders.
  • Suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • In females, absence of a period.
  • In males, decreased testosterone.

”I am beginning to measure myself in strength not pounds. Sometimes in smiles” – Laurie Halse Anderson

 

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