Anorexia nervosa is a food breakdown that causes people to lose more weight than is necessary for a healthy body. A person with such a diet is afraid of gaining weight, even if his weight is below normal. He may be on a strict diet, exercise too much, or use other weight loss methods.
The exact causes of anorexia are not known. Many factors may contribute to this. Genes and hormones can play a significant role. Social attitudes that extol a very thin physique also have an impact.
Risk factors for anorexia include:
- great anxiety or excessive attention to body weight and figure.
- erratic excitability, like a child’s.
- negative attitude towards their species.
- eating problems during adolescence.
- striving to achieve excellence in appearance.
Anorexia usually occurs during adolescence. Most common in girls, but boys also sometimes suffer from it.
Symptoms of anorexia
- A person is afraid of getting fat even if he is already underweight.
- Failure to maintain a healthy weight for your age and height.
- The absence of three or more monthly cycles in women.
- People with anorexia may severely limit the amount of food they eat or eat and then induce vomiting.
- Cutting food into small pieces or rolling the pieces around the plate instead of eating.
- Continuous sports, even if injured, bad weather or busy times.
- Going to the bathroom immediately after eating.
- Refusal to eat if there are other people around.
- Inappropriate use of diuretics, use of diet pills to reduce appetite.
Other symptoms of anorexia may include:
- Patchy or yellowish skin color that is dry.
- Weakened memory, excessive shyness, indecision.
- Dry mouth.
- Oversensitive to cold (puts on multiple layers of clothing to keep warm).
- Bone fragility increases.
- Muscles decrease in size and fat content decreases.
The best thing to do is to help the person realize that they are sick. Many anorexics sufferers deny they have nutritional problems. People often start treatment only when their health condition is seriously compromised.
The goal of treatment is to restore normal weight and return to normal nutrition. Restoring weight in the range of 0.5 – 1.5 kg per week is considered a safe goal.
Various pathways can help treat anorexia:
- increased social activity.
- decreased physical activity.
- using meal planning.
Hospitalization may be needed if:
- the person has already lost a large amount of their own weight (70% below the normal weight for their age and height). When malnutrition is life threatening, intravenous feeding may be needed.
- weight loss continues even when treated.
- medical complications such as heart problems, confusion, or low calcium levels in the body.
- when severely depressed or suicidal thoughts appear.
Treatment is often very difficult, so the patient and his family must work hard to recover. Different therapies should be used until the illness subsides. Patients may drop out of treatment if they have the unfounded hope of being cured with just one therapy.
Different types of talking therapy are used to treat anorexia:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (a type of talk therapy), group and family therapy is usually beneficial.
The goal of therapy is to change the patient’s thoughts or behavior towards a healthy diet. This type of therapy is most useful for treating young patients who have not suffered from anorexia for a long time.
If the patient is young, therapy can involve the whole family. The family is seen as a solution to the problem, not as a cause of ruined nutrition.
Support groups can also be part of the treatment. In these groups, patients and families meet and share what they have been through and what progress they have made.
Medications such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, and sedatives can help some patients when prescribed as part of a treatment program:
Antidepressants, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
Olanzapine ( Zyprexa , Zydis ) or other antipsychotics.
These medications can help treat depression or anxiety.
Anorexia nervosa is a serious condition that is 10% fatal. Proven treatment programs can help people return to normal weight, but often the disease comes back again.
Women who develop such eating problems at an early age are more likely to recover completely. However, many anorexic sufferers continue to be underweight and remain too focused on food and calories.