What is Anorexia Nervosa?
Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder where the individual has a distorted perception of their body image and an irrational fear of gaining weight. It involves extreme weight loss, typically among young adolescent females (ages 13-17). Because of this overwhelming fear of gaining weight, the individual will starve themself. This causes severe health issues.
The term anorexia means loss of appetite. However, this disorder starts out as voluntary. The individual is actually hungry, though afraid to eat. The individual suffering constantly thinks about food and their weight. They’re often counting calories and weighing foods. The person’s entire life is focused around this single issue, so much so that they become depressed and apathetic.
The Difference Between Anorexia and Bulimia
How Can You Tell if Someone is Anorexic?
When a person with Anorexia Nervosa looks in the mirror, they don’t see a realistic image. Their thoughts are irrational and their perception completely distorted. An individual with Anorexia Nervosa will actually see themselves as extremely overweight, as opposed to others who see them underweight. These thoughts are immensely real and present a clear danger. It’s common for the individual to consume a couple hundred calories per day, or going even further, only water.
Many times the person is aware of their condition. They’ve even occasionally okay with it. However, they won’t see the seriousness of Anorexia, or want to change. It’s very difficult for them to understand that it can be fatal.
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What are Anorexia Symptoms and Warning Signs?
-Pretending to eat
-Lying about eating
-Obsession with reading food labels
-Measuring food portions
-Secretive food rituals (chewing and spitting out food)
-Extreme weight loss
-Irregular menstrual cycles
-Feeling fat while at a healthy weight
-Constantly weighing oneself
-Fainting from dehydration
-Yellow skin and nails
-Decreased body temperature
-Wearing baggy or oversized clothing
What are the Health Risks of Anorexia Nervosa?
-Low blood pressure
The death rate for Anorexia Nervosa is higher than any other psychiatric illness!
Treatment Options for Anorexia Nervosa
Often, those suffering from anorexia also suffer from substance abuse. About 50% of anorexic individuals are substance abusers. Dual Diagnosis treatment is available and very similar to drug addiction treatment. The main goals are to get to a healthy weight, to start eating more food, and to effect a change in perception about their body image.
Therapy is also included. The disorder involves both mind and body. Having a support team is key. Family members are encouraged to participate in treatment in order to get the best results. Anorexia is very dangerous. Medical attention is, without a doubt, mandatory. Stabilizing any health issue comes first. Some people may need to be hospitalized due to malnutrition and afterwards be discharged to treatment.
Nutritionists play a huge role in the success or failure of treatment. They’ll teach the individual how to eat healthy and maintain proper nutrition. They’ll develop meal plans. For the best results, specific aftercare counseling is recommended.
Simply put, there’s treatment and hope for all those who suffer from Anorexia Nervosa!