Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder in which people have an intense fear of gaining weight and can become dangerously thin. Signs of anorexia include less than normal weight, negative body image, and obsession with food.
Who’s at Risk for Anorexia?
• Being female (eating disorders also affect males, but are most common in young women)
• Higher childhood body mass index (body fat measure based on height and weight)
• Heredity and genes (eating disorders tend to run in families)
• An abnormal functioning of brain chemicals and circuits that control hunger and eating
• Social pressure to be thin
• Difficulty expressing feelings
• History of being teased because of weight or size
• History of sexual or physical abuse
• Perfectionism, or setting unrealistic standards
• Unhappiness with body image
• A lack of social or family support
• Low self-esteem
• Depression, anxiety, stress, anger, or loneliness
• Belief that a thinner body is ideal, sometimes because of social standards, such as pictures in fashion magazines
• Dieting a lot
• Social problems in general, including withdrawal
• A history of psychiatric disorders
• Premature birth, low birth weight, or being part of a multiple birth
Can I Help Stop Anorexia?
There are many things that you, your friends, family, and teachers can do to help ease the pressures that could lead your loved one developing anorexia, including the following:
• Tell her being extremely thin isn’t better
• Put more importance on her personality than her looks
• Encourage her to be honest about her feelings
• Build her self-esteem
• Teach her about the dangers of dieting
• Let her know that you don’t expect her to be perfect because perfection doesn’t exist
Detecting Anorexia Early
Before your loved one develops anorexia, she will likely start showing warning signs of the eating disorder, such as dramatic weight loss, constantly complaining about being fat, avoiding mealtimes, and excessively exercising.
Symptoms of Anorexia
Starvation isn’t the only sign of anorexia. Call a doctor right away if you have some of the symptoms listed below. He can help you get back on track with a plan to live a better life.
• You don’t eat enough, so you’re underweight
• Your self-esteem is based on the way your body looks
• You are obsessed with and terrified of gaining weight
• It’s hard for you to sleep through the night
• Dizziness or fainting
• Your hair is falling out
• You no longer get your period
• You feel like your heart is beating in a strange way
• Swollen arms or legs
Warning Signs of Anorexia
Even before you develop symptoms of anorexia, you may start to notice certain warning signs that you’re headed that way, including:
• Constant worry about dieting, food, calories, and weight
• You complain a lot about being “fat”
• You refuse to eat whole groups of food, like carbohydrates
• You pretend you’re not hungry when really you are
• You stick to a difficult exercise schedule
• You avoid friends and have no interest in your usual activities
• You lie about how much food you’ve eaten
• You check yourself in the mirror a lot
• Not wanting to eat in public
• You wear layers of clothes so people can’t see how much you weigh
What Are the Treatments for Anorexia?
• Treatment for anorexia must address both psychological and physical problems. The treatment team should include a mental health professional and a primary care doctor.
• Successful treatment usually includes continuous medical care, regular therapy, nutritional counselling, and sometimes medication. Although certain antidepressants are sometimes used to treat anorexia, they are not always effective, and no medication is FDA approved to treat it.
• Doctors should pay attention to bone loss, electrolyte levels in the blood, and heart function. Psychologists and other types of mental health professionals can help a person let go of self-destructive thoughts and behaviours and adopt a more positive outlook. Support groups of other recovering anorexics — when properly moderated by a mental-health professional — can also be very helpful.
• Treatment usually is successful, but it doesn’t work overnight. Long-term psychological and medical attention usually is needed. We at South Coast Recovery Centre are able to help assist you, call us today on 072 545 5414/ 039 314 4777 or email us on: firstname.lastname@example.org, we want to help YOU!