- By sahlhealth
- May 18, 2021
- 45 views
Anorexia (an-o-REK-see-uh) nervosa â€” often simply called anorexia â€” is an eating disorder characterized by an abnormally low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of weight. People with anorexia place a high value on controlling their weight and shape, using extreme efforts that tend to significantly interfere with their lives.To prevent weight gain or to continue losing weight, people with anorexia usually severely restrict the amount of food they eat. They may control calorie intake by vomiting after eating or by misusing laxatives, diet aids, diuretics or enemas. 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 isn’t really about food. It’s an extremely unhealthy and sometimes life-threatening way to try to cope with emotional problems. 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. But with treatment, you can gain a better sense of who you are, return to healthier eating habits and reverse some of anorexia’s serious complications.
-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.It may be difficult to notice signs and symptoms because what is considered a low body weight is different for each person, and some individuals may not appear extremely thin. Also, people with Anorexia often disguise their thinness, eating habits or physical problems.
- Physical signs and symptoms of anorexia may include:
- Extreme weight loss or not making expected developmental weight gains
- Thin appearance
- Abnormal blood counts
- Dizziness or fainting
- Bluish discoloration of the fingers
- Hair that thins, breaks or falls out
- Soft, downy hair covering the body
- Absence of menstruation
- Constipation and abdominal pain
- Dry or yellowish skin
- Intolerance of cold
- Irregular heart rhythms
- Low blood pressure
- Swelling of arms or legs
- Eroded teeth and calluses on the knuckles from induced vomiting
-Some people who have anorexia binge and purge, similar to individuals who have bulimia. But people with anorexia generally struggle with an abnormally low body weight, while individuals with bulimia typically are normal to above normal weight.
Emotional and behavioral symptoms
-Behavioral symptoms of anorexia may include attempts to lose weight by:
- Severely restricting food intake through dieting or fasting
- Exercising excessively
- Bingeing and self-induced vomiting to get rid of food, which may include the use of laxatives, enemas, diet aids or herbal products
Emotional and behavioral signs and symptoms may include:
- Preoccupation with food, which sometimes includes cooking elaborate meals for others but not eating them
- Frequently skipping meals or refusing to eat
- Denial of hunger or making excuses for not eating
- Eating only a few certain "safe" foods, usually those low in fat and calories
- Adopting rigid meal or eating rituals, such as spitting food out after chewing
- Not wanting to eat in public
- Lying about how much food has been eaten
- Fear of gaining weight that may include repeated weighing or measuring the body
- Frequent checking in the mirror for perceived flaws
- Complaining about being fat or having parts of the body that are fat
- Covering up in layers of clothing
- Flat mood (lack of emotion)
- Social withdrawal
- Reduced interest in sex
When to see a doctor
-Unfortunately, many people with Anorexia don't want treatment, at least initially. Their desire to remain thin overrides concerns about their health. If you have a loved one you're worried about, urge her or him to talk to a doctor .If you're experiencing any of the problems listed above, or if you think you may have an eating disorder, get help. If you're hiding your Anorexia from loved ones, try to find a person you trust to talk to about what's going on.
-Treatment for Anorexia is generally done using a team approach, which includes doctors, mental health professionals and dietitians, all with experience in eating disorders.Ongoing therapy and nutrition education are highly important to continued recovery.Here's a look at what's commonly involved in treating people with Anorexia.
Hospitalization and other programs
-If your life is in immediate danger, you may need treatment in a hospital emergency room for such issues as a heart rhythm disturbance, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances or a psychiatric emergency. Hospitalization may be required for medical complications, severe psychiatric problems, severe malnutrition or continued refusal to eat.Some clinics specialize in treating people with eating disorders. They may offer day programs or residential programs rather than full hospitalization. Specialized eating disorder programs may offer more-intensive treatment over longer periods of time.
-Because of the host of complications Anorexia causes, you may need frequent monitoring of vital signs, hydration level and electrolytes, as well as related physical conditions. In severe cases, people with anorexia may initially require feeding through a tube that's placed in their nose and goes to the stomach (nasogastric tube). Care is usually coordinated by a primary care doctor or a mental health professional, with other professionals involved.
Restoring a healthy weight
-The first goal of treatment is getting back to a healthy weight. You can't recover from anorexia without returning to a healthy weight and learning proper nutrition. Those involved in this process may include:
- Your primary care doctor, who can provide medical care and supervise your calorie needs and weight gain
- A psychologist or other mental health professional, who can work with you to develop behavioral strategies to help you return to a healthy weight
- A dietitian, who can offer guidance getting back to regular patterns of eating, including providing specific meal plans and calorie requirements that help you meet your weight goals
- Your family, who will likely be involved in helping you maintain normal eating habits
-These types of therapy may be beneficial for anorexia:
- Family-based therapy. This is the only evidence-based treatment for teenagers with Anorexia. Because the teenager with anorexia is unable to make good choices about eating and health while in the grips of this serious condition, this therapy mobilizes parents to help their child with re-feeding and weight restoration until the child can make good choices about health.
- Individual therapy. For adults, cognitive behavioral therapy â€” specifically enhanced cognitive behavioral therapy â€” has been shown to help. The main goal is to normalize eating patterns and behaviors to support weight gain. The second goal is to help change distorted beliefs and thoughts that maintain restrictive eating.
-No medications are approved to treat Anorexia because none has been found to work very well. However, antidepressants or other psychiatric medications can help treat other mental health disorders you may also have, such as depression or anxiety.
Treatment challenges in Anorexia
-One of the biggest challenges in treating Anorexia is that people may not want treatment.
- Barriers to treatment may include:
- Thinking you don't need treatment
- Fearing weight gain
- Not seeing anorexia as an illness but rather a lifestyle choice
*People with anorexia can recover. However, they're at increased risk of relapse during periods of high stress or during triggering situations. Ongoing therapy or periodic appointments during times of stress may help you stay healthy.