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What is Anorexia Nervosa or Eating Disorder?

Medikoe Health Expert

Medikoe Health Expert

  Koramangala, bengaluru, karnataka, india, Bengaluru     Feb 9, 2017

   4 min     

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Overview

Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder, characterised by an intense fear of gaining weight. It is more prevalent among women and teens or young adults. The individual has a distorted idea of body shape, and weight has abnormal eating patterns and low self-esteem.

Although anorexia is an eating disorder, it is not only about food but is also a coping mechanism against emotional problems. Anorexia nervosa is a psychological condition and can be turned into a life-threatening eating disorder. But, with the right treatment, it is possible to recover from such circumstances.

Types of Anorexia

There are two common types of anorexia:

  • Purge: Here, the person feels a sense of guilt every time they eat and thus compensate that by vomiting, abusing laxatives or excessively exercising.

  • Restrictive: Here, the person will drastically limit the consumption of food, restrict its way below their calorie requirements, sometimes starving themselves.

Causes of Anorexia

Anorexia could develop as a result of biological factors, but most cases occur due to environmental and emotional factors.

Biological Factors

As per studies, some people who have eating disorders may have an inconsistency in certain brain chemicals that manage digestion, appetite, and hunger. But, there is a need for further researches to validate this.

Genetic factors may affect a person's susceptibility to eating disorders, as they can run in families. About 70% of the risk for anorexia is thought to be genetic. 

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors may comprise the hormonal modifications that occur during adolescence, plus characteristics of anxiety, stress, and low self-conceit. 

Other Environmental Factors

  • Physical, sexual, emotional or other types of abuse

  • Family or other relationship problems

  • Being bullied

  • Fear of exams 

  • Fear of failure 

  • A tensed life event, such as loss of anything important or becoming jobless and idle

When an individual sense out of control of one or more phases of his life, no-consumption may be one approach in which they can at least take control of their body. 

Psychological Factors

  • Thinness culture propagated by the media

  • Ideal body stereotypes

  • Peer pressure

  • Past abuse or trauma

  • Careers that require weight loss

  • Genetics

  • Nutritional deficiencies

  • Hormonal imbalances 

Signs & Symptoms of Anorexia

As we know that Anorexia nervosa is a complicated infirmity, but the main indication is generally a drastic weight loss. Also, the person may talk about being overweight, although objective measures, such as BMI, reveal that this is not exact.

Behavioural changes may include a denial to eat, exercising unnecessarily, and use of purgatives or vomiting after food intake.

Some other physical signs and symptoms resulting from a lack of nutrients include:

  • Extreme dieting and weight loss

  • Fatigue, dizziness and insomnia

  • Thinning hair

  • Abnormal blood counts

  • Bluish discolouration of the fingers

  • Absence of menstruation

  • Constipation

  • Dehydration

  • Osteoporosis

  • Swelling of arms or legs 

Diagnosis & Treatment of Anorexia

The immediate diagnosis and prompt treatment increase the possibility of a good result. Full medical records can help with diagnosis.

The doctor will ask the patient about weight loss, how they feel about their weight, and, for females, about menses. It can be difficult for them to open up and converse frankly about themselves. It can take a lot of time to confirm a diagnosis, especially if the person was previously overweight.

Anorexia is a complex disorder that involves biological, psychological and environmental factors. It can be effectively treated by a dietician and may also need to include a therapist at times.

  • Anorexia causes serious health issues such as heart problems, kidney, bone diseases, etc., that would need serious medical intervention.

  • The person would need to be under the strict guidance of a dietician who will restore the standard weight and assign specific diet and meal plans.

Nutrition counselling intends to improve the patient's healthful eating habits. They receive the purpose of a balanced diet in maintaining good health.

  • As mentioned earlier, anorexia is caused due to various underlying issues that need addressing by a therapist. A therapist will help manage past traumatic life events, learn healthier coping skills and further develop the capacity to express and deal with complex emotions.

  • Psychotherapy Counselling includes Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which focuses on changing the way the person thinks and behaves.  

Prevention of Anorexia

There is no guaranteed way to prevent anorexia. As it is more common in teens and young adults; parents and family members must be watchful of symptoms and address them before they can develop into a full-blown illness. Parents or friends may help the suffering individual by following these tips:

  • Being generous and respectful rather than judging him

  • Looking into providers of treatment who can best help including a dietitian, a therapist or a psychiatrist 

  • Right education and support must be intended to give to him

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Tags:  eating disorders in girls,eating disorders,Anorexia Nervosa

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