This article attempts to give you a comprehensive guide on some important and must-know anorexia nervosa facts. So continue reading and find out what’s this disorder all about.
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder wherein the affected individual is way too concerned regarding his weight, more particularly about the food he/she eats. These individuals follow ways and means to maintain a weight that is considered dangerously below normal, with respect to their age and height. The following segment discusses the characteristic symptoms of the condition, its possible causes, and ways to effectively manage this disorder.
As cited above, the main sign of people suffering from this disorder is their behavior of limiting the amount of food they eat to such an extent that they become dangerously thin. In some cases, doctors have seen that patients indulge in exercises excessively with an intention to bring down their weight. Most of the time, they only think about food, dieting, and weight. So such kind of behavior not only triggers undesirable physical responses in the body, but also manifests in the form of various psychological signs or symptoms. Some common physical symptoms may include:
- Extreme weight loss
- Persistently feeling of fatigue
- Sleep disorders
- Dizzy spells
- Nails may become brittle; besides hair fall and hair thinning
- Irregular menses
- Skin may get dry, and highly intolerant to cold temperatures
- Other symptoms of anorexia nervosa that may accompany include hypotension, dehydration, and swelling of the limbs
- Some patients may even go to the extreme of vomiting, use of laxatives and diuretics to shed weight
And speaking about the psychological symptoms, they may include:
- Frequently starving
- Not expressing hunger
- Lack of emotions
- Attempts to lead a life that lacks social attachment
- Increased irritability, with or without reason
- Disturbed sex life
- Being depressed at all times
- Extreme use of measures for weight loss
- Pretending to have eaten earlier to avoid eating
- Lying about the weight they have lost
- Mind preoccupied with food
Anorexia nervosa is an idiopathic condition as it does not have any specific cause. However, experts are aware of the factors which may increase the susceptibility of a person to this condition:
- Having a family member suffering from the same condition
- Living by a feeling of dissatisfaction regarding one’s own self, and persistently trying to be perfect
- Leading a stressful life at work or at home
Given the nature of the condition, complications could be severe. The most common ones may include anemia, bone loss, digestion problems, lack of potassium, sodium and chloride in the body, and problems with the kidneys. And in extreme cases, even death could be a likely outcome. So in order to avoid all such complications from getting life-threatening, the patient could be kept under constant observation. The main aim of the treatment is to help the patient gain healthy weight. So in this case, a dietitian plays a very important role in deciding meal plans and calorie requirements for the patients.
That is why, role of the family members is also involved in the treatment regimen. Besides focusing on the diet, patients are also put through psychotherapy. The therapy includes counseling sessions that focus on helping them develop self-esteem, realizing triggers that drive them to be anxious about their weight, and cope with such feelings. These sessions not only involve the patients, but also other members of the family, and with people facing the same problem.
Anorexia Nervosa ~ Quick Facts
- One of the main hurdles doctors come across in treating this disorder is the patient’s unwillingness to receive treatment
- The disorder occurs more in females than in males
- 15-23 year old females are known to be the most vulnerable
- If we consider 10 female teenagers, then 1% of them would develop this problem
- According to anorexia nervosa statistics, deaths due to the complications caused by this disorder account for about 10-15% of the cases
- Scientists believe that peer pressure seems to play an important role in the development of this severe mental condition
- The disorder is often misdiagnosed in males, as it is known to be more prevalent in females
- Patients, somehow, appear fat to themselves in the mirror, even when they are dangerously thin
- Given the severity of the condition, only about 8 out of 20 people may achieve a complete recovery
Anorexia nervosa more often than not, requires a lifelong management. This is due to the extreme vulnerability of the person to resort to his/her earlier behavior of losing weight through extreme measures. But constant care and support of family, friends and doctors, may provide a great deal of courage and help to cope with the condition.