Every human wants to look better and do something about it. But when a person becomes preoccupied with being thin, his or her thoughts, eating habits, and life become a sign of an eating disorder.
People who suffer from anorexia have the desire to lose weight more than anything else. You can even lose the sense to see how you truly look. Anorexia affects women and men of all ages and it is a serious eating disorder. It can harm your health and threaten your life.
It is still unknown what causes anorexia. As with many other diseases, it is probably a combination of psychological, biological and environmental factors.
Psychological – Certain emotional characteristics can contribute to anorexia. Young woman with obsessive-compulsive personality traits can more easily stick to diets and forgo food even though she’s hungry. Also, they can have an extreme desire for perfectionism, which causes them to believe they are never thin enough. Those women can have very high levels of anxiety and they can restrict their meals in order to reduce it.
Biological – It is still unclear which genes are involved, but some genetic changes may make some people more vulnerable to developing anorexia. Some people can have a genetic tendency toward perseverance, sensitivity and perfectionism – all traits which are associated with anorexia.
Environmental – Today’s modern culture in Western world emphasizes thinness. Success and worth are usually equated with being thin. In addition, pressure from peers can fuel the desire to be thin, and this typically happens among young girls.
The physical symptoms of anorexia are related to starvation. However, this disorder also includes behavior and emotional issues which are related to an extremely strong fear of becoming fat or gaining weight and an unrealistic perception of body weight.
Physical symptoms of anorexia are thin appearance, fatigue, dizziness or fainting, hair that thins, breaks or falls out, absence of menstruation, dry or yellowish skin, irregular heart rhythms, dehydration, swelling of arms or legs, extreme weight loss, insomnia, soft, downy hair covering the body, intolerance of cold, osteoporosis, abnormal blood counts, bluish discoloration of the fingers, constipation, and low blood pressure.
Behavioral and emotional symptoms of anorexia are self-induced vomiting in order to get rid of the food which may include use of enemas, diet acids, laxatives or herbal products, and severely restricting food intake through fasting or dieting and may include excessive exercise.
Other behavioral and emotional symptoms related to anorexia are refusal to eat, fear of gaining weight, flat mood (lack of emotions), irritability, depressed mood, preoccupation with food, denial of hunger, lying about how much food is eaten, social withdrawal, reduced interest in sex, and thoughts of suicide.
Treatment and therapy
A team approach to treatment is often best, since anorexia involves both mind and body. People who may be involved in anorexia treatment include psychologists, dieticians, counselors, and medical doctors. Also, support and participation of family members plays a big role in treatment success. Having a group of people around you whom you can trust can make recovery easier.
There are three steps in treating anorexia:
– Gaining a healthy weight
– Eating more food
– Changing your opinion about yourself and food
The first priority is stabilizing and addressing any serious health issues in anorexia treatment. In case you are dangerously malnourished or very distressed that you want to end your life, hospitalization may be necessary. Also, you may have to be hospitalized if you reach very critical body weight.
Nutritional counseling is the second component of anorexia treatment. A dietician or nutritionist will teach you about proper nutrition and healthy eating. In addition, the nutritionist will also help you follow meal plans which includes enough calories in order to reach or maintain a healthy, normal weight.
Counseling and therapy
A crucial part of anorexia treatment is counseling. The goal of this treatment is to identify the negative feelings and thoughts that fuel your eating disorder and replace them with less distorted, healthier beliefs. Also, an important goal of counseling is to learn how to deal with difficult relationship, emotions problems, and stress in a more productive way, rather than f-destructive.
There is no real way to prevent anorexia. Primary care physicians can be a good help to identify early indicators of the disorder and prevent its full-blown development. For example, they can ask you questions about your eating habits during routine medical appointments.
In case you notice a friend or a family member who has severe dieting habits, low self-esteem, and dissatisfaction with appearance, make sure to talk with him or her about these problems. Even though you may not prevent the development of eating disorder, you can talk about treatment options and healthier behavior.