What is Anorexia?
Anorexia Nervosa is a psychological and possibly life-threatening eating disorder that is defined by extremely low body weight relative to the victims BMI or Body Mass Index, illogical fear of gaining weight, extreme and needless weight loss, and a distorted perception of one’s body image.
In addition, men and women who suffer from this disorder exemplify a fixation with a very thin figure and an abnormal eating pattern. Individuals commonly eat only small amounts of a certain variety of foods and often have a pattern of excessive exercise.
Anorexia nervosa is interchangeable with the term anorexia, which refers to lack of appetite or self-starvation.
Major Types of Anorexia
There are two major types of anorexia and they include:
- Binge/Purge Type – This is the type of anorexia whereby an individual will purge when he or she starts eating. This is normally due to overwhelming feelings of guilt the victim feels in relation to eating. This is mostly compensated with vomiting, excessive exercise, or abusing laxatives.
- Restrictive – Restrictive anorexia is the condition whereby the victim greatly limits the amount of food he or she consumes. This results in ingestion of minimal amount of food that is below the body’s calorie requirement.
Causes of Anorexia
Unlike many other disorders, the causes of anorexia are very complex. Up to now, it is thought that it develops as a result of several factors which are biological and environmental. Some of the biological factors include:
- Irregular hormone functions
- Nutritional deficiencies
Some of the environmental factors include:
- Effects of media which reinforce thin people as ideal stereotypes
- Professions and careers promoting thinness like modeling and ballet
- Family and childhood traumas
- Peer pressure from friends, family, and society
There are certain risk factors that are known to increase one’s risk of succumbing to anorexia. These factors include:
- Being female – Anorexia is very common in women and girls compared to men and boys. However, there is a continuous increase in men and boys developing it.
- Young age – Although persons of any age can develop this disorder, it is more common in teenagers due to puberty.
- Genetics – alterations in the genetical structure of people can also make them more susceptible to developing anorexia.
- Family history – People who have a parent, child, or relative with this disorder are much more likely to be susceptible to anorexia
- Sports, work and artistic activities – models, athletes, dancers, and actors are at the highest risk of developing this disorder due to coaches suggestions.
- Media and society – The media and society portray skinny and thinness as with success and popularity.
- Obstetric complications – perinatal and prenatal complications may factor into the development of anorexia like maternal diabetes, anaemia, mellitus, placenta infarction, preeclampsia, and neonatal cardiac.
- Neuroendocrine dysregulation – When the signaling of peptides facilitating communication the brain, gut, adipose tissue, and gut is altered, it may lead to anorexia through the disruption of the normal feeling of hunger compared to other people.
Anorexia Signs & Symptoms
Although there are two types of anorexia, both have the same signs and symptoms. Some of the common signs and symptoms of anorexia include:
- Chronic dieting regardless of being extremely underweight
- Obsession with calories and fat contents of food
- Ritualistic eating patterns
- abnormal absence of menstruation, or loss of menstrual cycle in 3 consecutive
- Development of soft and fine hair on the face and body
- Feeling of cold particularly in extremities
- Loss of hair or thinning
- Low body mass index relative to one’s age and height.
- Fear of even the slightest weight gain
- Preoccupation with food, recipes, or cooking
- Food restrictions despite being underweight or at a healthy weight.
- Food rituals like cutting food into tiny pieces
- Persistent movements of the fingers or toes.
- Hypotension or orthostatic hypotension.
- Depression, insomnia, and anxiety disorders
- Abdominal distension.
- Chronic fatigue.
- Rapid mood swings.
- Feet discoloration causing orange appearances.
- Severe muscle aches and pains.
- Admiration for thin people.
Warning Signs of Anorexia
Before developing anorexia, there are some warning signs that may tell you that you are headed that way. These include:
- Constant worrying when it comes to dieting and weight
- Complaints about getting fat
- Avoiding foods like carbohydrates and fats
- Pretending to be full when in reality you are hungry
- Sticking to a very difficult exercise schedule
- Avoiding friends and family members
- Lying about the quantity of food you have eaten
- Constantly checking yourself in the mirror
- Avoiding eating in public
If the doctor suspects that you may be having anorexia, he or she will do several tests and exams to come up with a diagnosis. The exams and tests include physical examination, lab tests, and other tests like an x-ray. All these include a person’s current biographical history, current circumstances, and family history. This assessment also includes an examination of the person’s mental state. This includes their current mood and thoughts on matters concerning eating.
Due to the complexity of this disorder, the treatment is done using a team approach that consists of professional medical doctors, therapists, and dieticians. The treatment is aimed at restoring one’s healthy weight, treating their psychological disorders and illnesses, and reducing the thoughts and behaviors that led to this eating disorder.
- Medical – Medical doctors in Haverford hold the highest priority in the treatment process. They deal with any health issues that may have arisen due to malnutrition.
- Nutritional – When you go for Anorexia counseling in Haverford, these professionals will deal with restoration of weight, implementation of a tailored meal plan, and education on normal nutrition.
- Therapy – If you visit Anorexia therapist in Haverford, the therapist will try to recognize the underlying issues that are associated with the disorder, healing traumatic events, and learning ways to deal with emotions.
Patients whose life is in danger or have complications may need to be treated in an emergency room. These include issues like dehydration, malnutrition, imbalance of electrolytes, heart rhythm disturbances, and heart problems.
Currently, there is no specific way to prevent anorexia. However, pediatricians, family physicians, and internists are able to identify the early indicators of anorexia and prevent it from developing to a full-blown illness. Consequently, when you notice that any family member or friend has severe dieting habits and a lower self-esteem, it is advisable you talk to him or her about the issue.