Anorexia Nervosa – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

October 12, 20130 Comments

Anorexia nervosa is a disorder in which the affected person will have an obsession about his weight gain and about the food he eats. Such individuals will maintain weight that is very much below the normal weight. It is an eating disorder that is characterized by starving and doing strenuous exercises to lose weight. This disorder is not about eating alone but is a serious emotional problem in which the affected person has intense fear of gaining weight and feels that he is worth only if he is thin.

He will think about dieting and losing weight all the time. It is difficult to treat. Anorexia nervosa begins in teen age and continues till adulthood. If not treated in early stages, it can become life threatening problem.

Anorexia Nervosa Symptoms :

The major symptoms of this disorder can be categorized into two heads namely physical and emotional symptoms. A person with anorexia nervosa will often think only about dieting and doing exercises to lose weight. Though he looks very thin for others, he would have intense feeling that he is overweight.

Some of the physical symptoms are extreme loss of weight, thin appearance, dizziness, insomnia, extreme tiredness, blue coloration in fingers (due to lack of blood), abnormal blood count, sleeping sickness, dry skin, constipation, irregular heartbeat, lowered blood pressure, osteoporosis, dehydration and swelling of arms and legs. Emotional problems in the affected individual includes fear of gaining weight, refusal to eat, social withdrawal, telling lies about eating food, lack of emotion, depression, decreased sexual drive, thinking always about dieting and food and use of laxatives.

Warning Signals To Watch :

If any of your family members or friends has anorexia nervosa then you can watch for the following red signals:-

• Skipping meals frequently and eating only very low calorie foods
• Often checking weight and checking in front of the mirror of becoming fat
• Refusal to eat or giving false excuses for not eating
• Social withdrawal and refusing to eat in public

Causes Of Anorexia Nervosa :

Many predictions are there about the causative factors for anorexia nervosa, but nothing has proof. It can be caused due to genes and also due to changes in brain chemicals. It can be caused due to personality disorder like OCD where people tend to be overly perfect and stick on to severe dieting. Cultural factor also plays a role in the modern society where females with thin figure are viewed as beautiful.

Risk Factors :

Girls are more affected with anorexia nervosa than boys since they care very much about their looks. This disorder is common in adolescents and is likely to develop in people with family history of this disorder. Sudden loss of weight can invoke good comments from the society can trigger anorexia nervosa. Emotional stress and any new environment can increase the risk.

Popular personalities and those who are in media have more risk for developing this disorder than others. If left untreated, this disorder can cause life threatening conditions like imbalance of electrolytes, anemia, heart problems, bone loss, kidney problems and gastrointestinal problems.

Diagnoses :

There is not one single test to detect anorexia nervosa. Doctors look for the symptoms and will order series of tests before confirming the disease. Blood test (for checking electrolytes balance, anemia), X-ray of chest, arms and legs for ruling out broken bones, absence of menstruation in females and psychological evaluation to analyze the person’s feelings and thoughts are done for checking the disorder. Your doctor will also check your heart and lungs condition which can indicate that you are not eating well.

Treatment :

Depending on the intensity of symptoms, some patients may need to be hospitalized for treating dehydration or electrolyte imbalance. In addition to medical care, psychological counseling has to be given for the affected person for getting positive response. For serious cases, feeding tube is inserted into the nose of the patient to restore the loss of electrolytes. The need for maintaining healthy weight is to be emphasized.

Psychotherapy is given in the form of cognitive behavior therapy to make the person fully aware of the consequences of losing weight continuously. Both the individual and family therapy is given if the affected person is not able to take any decision about his/her health. The counselor will find out the hidden cause for refusal of eating after repeated sessions of counseling. Nutrition education is given along with the ill-effects of not taking healthy diet.

For patients with depression or psychosis medications will be prescribed to relieve the symptoms. Many times, people with anorexia nervosa will refuse to cooperate with the doctor and counselor. It is the biggest challenge in treating this disorder since they will observe this disorder as lifestyle choice and not as a serious illness.

Images, Pics, Photos and Pictures of Anorexia Nervosa :

Anorexia Nervosa Anorexia Nervosa Anorexia Nervosa

Lifestyle Changes :

Attend your counseling sessions regularly and stick on to the treatment. Listen to your family members who want to keep you healthy and cheerful. Don’t check your weight often since it can mislead you again. Identify what is healthy weight for your age and height.

Prevention :

There is no way you can prevent developing anorexia nervosa symptoms. Be optimistic in approach and do not fall prey to false role models.

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