Anorexia nervosa is an obsession with weight loss resulting in refusal to eat or irregularity in eating patterns. It is not a loss of appetite but a serious perception disorder.
Anorexia nervosa affects approximately up to 200,000 people so if you are suffering from this condition, you are not alone.
Young females are the most common sufferers; around one in every hundred females aged between 16 and 18 experience it. However anorexia nervosa does not exclusively affect women, many men have also been diagnosed. Dancers, models, actors and food workers have all been found to be high-risk.
Individuals with this eating disorder look in the mirror and see a completely distorted perception of themselves; they are extremely thin but still see an a person that is overweight staring back at them.
Sufferers become obsessive about eating rituals and develop an unusual way of eating, for example skipping meals and avoiding certain food, selecting a small variety of foods and only eating them in very small quantities. This is all usually done secretly.
Individuals suffering from anorexia often check their body weight more than once a day, many take up compulsive exercise which is usually quite intense such as cycling or running.
- Extreme body weight loss results from malnutrition
- Extreme tiredness and weakness
- Absence of menstruation in women and lack of testosterone in men
- Hair loss on the head or excessive fine bodily hair growth
- Dry skin
- Irritability and depression
Common Side Effects:
- Menstrual period ending
- Dry, fragile bones and nails
- Loss of hair
- More sensitive to bruising
- Bloating and constipation
- Feeling weak, tired and dehydrated
- Isolation from others
- Thinking about nothing but weight-loss
- Feeling guilty and depressed
More Extreme Side Effects:
- Heart problems or a low heart rate
- Poor blood circulation
How can it be treated:
The most important part of an anorexic patient’s treatment is realising they have a problem and that their way of eating is not going to solve the other problems in their lives. However, 95% of sufferers cannot recognize that they have an eating disorder and believe medical treatment is just a way of others making them fat.
The first stage of treatment is to deal with the physical problem, rebuilding the anorexics physical state to a healthy weight and appearance, getting them out of any potential danger and returning to natural eating patterns. Then dealing with the psychological side of the illness with the use of Hypnotherapy or EMDR. Treatment in early stages of anorexia is very important, as the eating disorder continues, the more dangerous it becomes. It is therefore imperative that those around an individual suffering from anorexia attempts to help by seeking out medical help, as the individual will often not be able to see they have a problem.