WHAT IS ANOREXIA? EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ANOREXIA
If you constantly skip meals for fear of gaining weight, it’s very likely that you’re suffering from anorexia.
Generally, anorexia –or fully “anorexia nervosa” –is a critical metabolic condition characterized by excessive self-starvation in a bid to have a perfectly slim body. People with anorexia tend to maintain an abnormal lifestyle characterized by negative eating patterns. While their aim is to have a desirably thin body, anorexic patients are at risk of severe physical and mental breakdown.
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Signs and Symptoms of Anorexia
Anorexia is likely the situation when an individual is obsessed with the urge to control their body shape and size. While persistent fear of weight gain also points to anorexia, one major indication of the disorder is unbridled crave for thinness.
Generally, the signs and symptoms of anorexia include the tendency to conceal one’s thinness, fear of gaining weight, uncontrollable crave for weight loss, aversion towards eating in public, frequent engagement in intense workouts and the constant habit of skipping meals.
Who Is at the Most Risk for Anorexia?
There’s the widely held belief that anorexia is most commonly evident in people with perfectionist mentality about body size. People in this web of psychological delusion (about the perfect body size) majorly include young women and female adolescents. Beyond all that, it is generally acceptable that anyone –irrespective of their descent, age, social status, gender or other background –may be susceptible to anorexia.
Asides the perfectionist mentality about body size, one major factor that triggers anorexic feelings in individuals is being in a profession that prioritizes leanness of the body. This, of course, is why dancers and athletes are very likely to be at high risk of developing anorexia.
Is There Any Known Cause of Anorexia?
It may be hard to state the exact clinical cause of anorexia but it is well known that anorexic feelings often stem from the self-worth some people wrongly associate with thinness. Inasmuch as somebody pays excessive attention to their body size, they could be tempted to excessively control their weight. Observably, anorexic feelings are associated with the psychological delusion that one commands more physical value the thinner one appears. To this end, the root cause of anorexia is probably more psychological.
Clearly, anorexia is an eating disorder and while its exact clinical cause may be unknown, some of the factors that could trigger anorexia include excess sensitivity, perfectionism and other obsessive-compulsive personality traits. An individual is also likely to develop anorexia if they are enamored of imitating a relative with an eating disorder. For example, a teenager who often mimics the dietary reluctance of siblings or parents could slip into anorexic feelings.
Lots of relevant research discoveries may not have been recorded yet but it has been observed that anorexia may result from a genetic disorder. Not much has been discovered as regards the actual genes that would change for an individual to be at risk of anorexia. Generally however, discoveries by geneticists indicate that an individual’s chances of developing anorexia could increase through the combination of genes associated with psychiatric conditions and those associated with diabetic (type 2) resistance, physical activity and fat burning.
It is still not clear if the aforementioned genes are the only genetic traits that could play into the development of anorexia. But since research has proven that lots of genes could play a role in an individual’s development of several conditions or diseases, it’s very presumable that many other genes may have a role in anorexia development.
Approaches to the Treatment of Anorexia
Mental health professionals may have various approaches for the treatment of anorexia. One common and effective approach is that which incorporates medical treatment, psychotherapy and nutrition counseling. Depending on the personal information, medical history and other essential details a patient provides, a mental health expert should be able to recommend an effective treatment approach.
Most likely, your physician will want you to provide them with detailed information about your physical and mental health. To aid their diagnosis of anorexia, do well to fully state your dietary habit, perceived changes (whether physical or emotional), symptoms and other feelings that might indicate that you’re anorexic. Advisably, endeavor to reveal the truth about your view of bodily size and about your daily eating patterns. Providing your physician with comprehensive and honest information about your physical and emotional health will aid their proper diagnosis of anorexia.
Specialists in the treatment of anorexia can adopt any of the standard therapies they consider suitable probably depending on the signs and symptoms that you exhibit. However, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is most likely the initial aspect of the treatment approach. Broadly, CBT is a kind of one-to-one talk therapy through which a patient is made to realize how their anorexia (eating disorder) may have stemmed from poor self-worth and protracted reluctance towards food.
CBT can also prove successful in encouraging the patient to ward off their concerns about the ideal body size. As a form of behavioral therapy, CBT may stimulate you to do away with the underlying negative thoughts in your behavior towards friends, family, peers, etc.
While the therapy could convince you to develop positive self-esteem, your mental care provider may further recommend ancillary aids such as support groups and group therapy. To relieve a patient of the undesirable physical or emotional effects associated with anorexia, certain drugs may be prescribed to the patient. As for the physical defects that may have arisen from protracted starvation, the treatment approach may introduce a nutritionist or dietitian. The nutritionist or dietitian, as the case may be, should guide the patient about ways of maintaining healthy weight perhaps by combining the appropriate foods. Medications may also be prescribed particularly with respect to irregular menstruation, increased risk of kidney failure and certain other physical complications associated with anorexia.
One thing you must know as an anorexic patient is that your care providers will decide your suitable level of care –probably simple or intense –based on the symptoms and signs you exhibit. You could be made to undergo an intensive outpatient program if you seem to have exhibited severe symptoms.
What Are the Negative Effects Anorexia Can Have on Your General Health?
Anorexia may manifest as obsessive reluctance towards eating. While this likely indicates the irresistible urge to starve oneself, it eventually takes a toll on the general health of the body. Protracted anorexia can have negative effects on the psychological and physical wellbeing of an individual.
The undesirable psychological effects of anorexia may include:
- Drastic decline in sexual urge
- Aversion towards social activities
- Failure to reveal one’s actual eating habits
- Depression, and suicidal thoughts
- Lack of satisfaction with one’s body size: an anorexic patient may want to appear thinner
As for the undesirable physical effects of anorexia, a victim may experience the following:
- Feelings of dizziness, fatigue or general body weakness
- Female victims may experience irregular menstruation
- Risk of heart failure increases
- Drastic reduction in blood pressure
- Testosterone reduction in male victims
- Hair loss or dryness of hair
- The fingertips may appear bluish
- Dryness of skin
- Dehydration: Meanwhile, kidney failure may result from severe dehydration
- Risk of bone loss increases
Anorexia is a serious eating disorder that could complicate a patient’s life. Rather than letting them slip into extreme self-starvation, individuals concerned about body size should be counseled thoroughly and made to understand that they need to feel positive about themselves.
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