Anorexia nervosa or simply anorexia is a condition that is far more serious that simply wanting to have a lovelier figure. Individuals who suffer from it attempt to maintain their body weight as low as possible by considerably limiting the food they eat, making themselves vomit after meals, using laxatives or diuretics, or exercising a lot.
People with this mental condition need to be seen by specialists for early diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Otherwise, the problem may wind up chronic in nature, causing it to be very debilitating and even life-threatening.
Types of Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia comes in 2 different types: restricting and purging type. Individuals with the restricting type of the condition attempt to ward off weight gain or continuously shed off excess pounds by having the amount of food they eat significantly reduced.
It’s not unlikely for them to seek assistance from the use of diet pills, laxatives, diuretics and even enemas. Those with this particular type of the mental disorder may also exercise a lot in order to lose weight. Because of all these reasons, the sufferers tend to be abnormally underweight.
On the other hand, individuals suffering from the purging type of anorexia have normal weight or sometimes even above normal. After eating, they induce vomiting or purging in order to prevent weight gain. Whether suffering from the restricting type of the purging one, all people with anorexia nervosa intensely fear gaining weight.
Anorexia Nervosa Signs and Symptoms
The various signs and symptoms of anorexia are associated with starvation. However, there are also issues pertaining to the emotion and behavior brought about by extreme worrying over gaining unwanted pounds or having an unrealistic view of body weight or image.
Below are the physical symptoms of the eating disorder:
- Severe loss of weight
- Thinning or falling hair
- Absence of periods
- Low blood pressure and irregular heart rhythms
- Abnormal blood counts
- Fatigue and weakness
- Nausea and dizziness
- Dry skin with yellowish coloration
- Bluish fingertips
- Intolerance to cold
- Soft and downy hairs on the body
- Edema of the arms and legs
The following are some of the emotional and behavioral symptoms of anorexia:
- Fear of becoming fat
- Refusal to eat
- Bingeing and undergoing self-induced vomiting afterwards
- Exercising a lot
- May use a lot of diet pills, herbal products for weight reduction, laxatives and diuretics
- Depression and lack of emotion
- Withdrawal from family, friends and the society
- Decreased interest in sex
- Suicidal ideations
A lot of anorexia nervosa sufferers usually conceal their thinness with the help of clothes. Many of them do not allow others to know of their eating habits. Because of these reasons, it’s not always that the signs and symptoms can be spotted by family and friends. However, there are a few red flags that someone is suffering from the eating disorder, such as:
- Skipping meals and giving a lot of reasons for doing so
- Eating only certain foods such as those that are low in calories and fat
- Cooking meals for others but refuse to eat them
- Constantly taking their weight or looking at their flaws in the mirror
- Complaining about being fat all the time
- Wearing layers of clothes
- Eroded teeth due to self-induced vomiting
Treatments for Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia usually requires several types of treatments coming from different types of specialists. Some of them include medical providers, mental health specialists and nutritionists with sufficient experience in treating individuals suffering from the eating disorder.
Hospitalization may be warranted if someone with anorexia is severely malnourished or had lost interest in living. In a hospital setting, the individual’s vital signs may be monitored all the time. Administration of fluids to deal with dehydration as well as tube feeding may be done on someone who refuses to eat.
Because anorexia is a mental disorder, it’s important for the sufferer to be seen by a mental health specialist. Experts say that the most effective treatment for anorexia nervosa is undergoing psychotherapy or psychological counseling. Family-based therapy is known to work really well for teenagers suffering from the condition, while cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is more suitable for adults.
The primary goal of anorexia nervosa treatment is to bring back normal eating patterns and behaviors to promote healthy weight gain. The secondary goal is correct distorted beliefs about the image and body.