Anorexia Nervosa – (A Guide)

Anorexia Nervosa

In this brief guide on Anorexia Nervosa, we will discuss what this eating disorder is, its symptoms and how to address it.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by having a fairly low body weight.

The person suffering from this type of disorder has a distorted perception of their image, developing an excessive concern for their weight and carrying out a series of behaviours to achieve weight loss.

Actions such as performing an extreme exercise, eating small amounts of food or reaching the point of eating anything during the day.

The person suffering from Anorexia Nervosa, or Anorexia as it is commonly called, has a rigorous control with their weight.

It is subjected to a daily process of checking its weight. The scale becomes a friend and, at the same time, an enemy as the person’s feelings change according to the number that throws the balance.

If the person sees that he has lost weight in the day, it will feel happy, and if the result is the opposite, the person will manifest feelings of sadness and irritability.

Anorexia Nervosa

Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa

The symptoms that a person with Anorexia can present in many cases are difficult to detect since the most common of these is weight loss.

As the human body is different, to some extent looking at a thin person does not represent an eating disorder like this, but other physical symptoms help with the diagnosis of this disease.

Physical Symptoms

– Excessive weight loss, especially in people who previously had an adequate weight and behind this there is no reason for another physical illness.

– Tiredness

– Dizziness and fainting

– Absence of menstruation

– Dehydration

– Loss of hair

– Abdominal pain and constipation

– Dry or yellowish skin

Behavioural and emotional symptoms

Among the behaviours manifested by a person with Anorexia are:

–          Exercise excessively

–          Prohibits your person from the food deed

–          Avoid meetings and activities with family and friends in order not to eat

–          The person eats food that contains a low amount of calories

–          Lies about the amount of food that eat

–          Use large layers of clothing to hide its extreme thinness

–          Irritability

–          Complains frequently saying looks fat.

–          Indifferent mood

Anorexia Nervosa

Causes of Anorexia Nervosa

The causes of Anorexia Nervosa are multifactorial since there is nothing exactly that explains why the person develops the disease.

In the family, a person with a family member who has developed an eating disorder is more likely to develop it.

Culture influences when a person is in a circle where body image is the most important, they can feel pressured to meet standards and make decisions that can be risky for their health.

Characters such as models and athletes have suffered eating disorders like Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia to comply with the canons established in the industry.

Low self-esteem plays an important role in developing the disease. The person perceived negatively feels that must change.

The person looks in the mirror and sees itself as fat. Criticisms made by others also exert influence and push a person to develop the disease.

Statistics about Anorexia Nervosa

For years, a large number of studies have been carried out on Anorexia Nervosa to know more about the disease and how to create and strengthen the strategies used for its prevention and cure. Some of the most outstanding results are:

  •  Between 1.25 and 3.4 million people in the United Kingdom are affected by an eating disorder
  • About 10% of people affected by an eating disorder suffer from Anorexia Nervosa
  • The average age at the beginning of Anorexia Nervosa ranges between 16-17 years
  • Anorexia Nervosa has the highest mortality rate than any psychiatric disorder in adolescence.
  • 1 of 5 deaths from Anorexia Nervosa Ends in suicide

Problems that a person with Anorexia Nervosa can develop

A person suffering from Anorexia can develop a series of complications throughout their life, where if the person does not receive the appropriate treatment in time, the result could trigger death. Some of the consequences to his health are:

  • Heart problems, such as heart failure or abnormal heart rhythms
  • Digestive disorders
  • Biochemical alterations in the blood, such as low level of potassium, sodium, and chloride
  • Bone decalcification and increased risks of osteoporosis
  • Renal problems
  • Depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, dysthymia
Anorexia Nervosa

How Anorexia Nervosa can be treated?

The treatment for Anorexia Nervosa goes beyond just getting the person to gain weight.

In this aspect, a series of professionals from different clinical branches come into play to ensure a rapid recovery and that the person does not fall back into behaviours typical of this disorder.

In the first instance, the treatment seeks that the person can have a healthy weight, accompanied by psychological therapies that help in working in their acceptance.

The treatment, depending on the person, can take months or even years, everything will depend on the patient’s medical history.

The treatment will be more effective if the detection of the disorder is earlier.

Each treatment is adjusted according to the situation of each person, with the ultimate goal that the person can move forward and see the light at the end of the tunnel.

FAQs about Anorexia Nervosa

– How Anorexia Nervosa can be prevented?

Anorexia Nervosa is a disease that can be prevented from home.

The home is the first place where a person is at birth, it is the first school.

The behaviours that occur between each family member greatly influence the development of the person.

A person born in a healthy family environment, where awareness is raised about every aspect of life and positive self-esteem is reinforced, will cause a person to grow up healthy and be less likely to develop the disorder.

On the other hand, a person who is exposed to a negative family environment, where behaviors are reinforcing harmful actions can cause the person to grow up with complex and distorted ideas of reality, making them more likely to develop this disorder or others.

Is Nervous Anorexia something that people do to get attention?

No. A person with Anorexia Nervosa does not want to go through the situation in which they are currently.

The person is not aware that those behaviours can lead to a situation where its physical and mental health is in danger.

Anorexia Nervosa is serious and statistics show that the percentage of people who have the disorder is increasing.

– Why a person develop Anorexia Nervosa or another eating disorder?

Several factors can lead to a person developing Anorexia Nervosa or another type of eating disorder.

Psychological factors

A person with low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy or lack of control in their life and depression, anxiety and anger, are very common in this aspect.

The person feels worthless and that life has no meaning.

Interpersonal factors

Aspects such as problematic family relationships, difficulty expressing feelings and emotions, suffering from bullying or some type of abuse are usually present in this category.

Social factors

Social pressure plays an important role in this factor.

The perception that society or certain environments have about what it is beauty leads the person to want to change their physical appearance to fit, regardless of the type of measures they take.

Biological factors

Today, scientists continue to investigate the biological causes from which Anorexia Nervosa or another eating disorder can originate.

Studies have found that certain chemicals in the brain that control hunger, appetite, and digestion are unbalanced.

Other studies also reflect that eating disorders usually occur in families, indicating that genetics contributes significantly to eating disorders.

How Anorexia Nervosa is different from other eating disorders?

Nervous Anorexia differs from other eating disorders such as Bulimia in that the first one, the person makes a restriction of food intake which contributes to having a significantly low weight; whereas, in Bulimia, the person eats food and an amount greater than what most people would eat.

Another characteristic is that a person suffering from Anorexia Nervosa has control over each food they are going to eat; they have control over the calories contained in each food.

In the case of Bulimia, the person has a feeling of lack of control over what they ingest.

– How can a person help a family member or friend if they are suffering from Anorexia Nervosa?

It is not easy for a person to see how a friend or relative suffers from the symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa or another eating disorder.

The person who wants to help must be careful when acting because, if he makes a rash decision, the person with the disease can get more confined, making help difficult.

Actions that a person can do to help are:

Know about the disease: Before issuing an opinion on the subject it is important to know it.

Finding out more about Anorexia Nervosa will allow the person to understand more about the situation.

Talk to the affected person: Communication is an effective way to help someone.

Express it to the person who suffers from Anorexia Nervosa that you are there to help, that you are concerned about their well-being and that you will not judge their actions.

Patience: In all this situation, patience is one of the key elements. It is important to remain calm, not to exalt and attack the sick person.

Contact a doctor: Anorexia Nervosa is not a passing state or something that the person does with hidden reasons, it is a disease and as every disease has to be treated by medical specialists in the area.

Conclusion

In this guide, we discuss Anorexia Nervosa.

The importance of knowing the symptoms present in the disease is highlighted in order to recognize it and take the appropriate measures against it.

Anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders are serious, it is not a disease that should be taken lightly.

Recommended books

  1. A is for Anorexia: Anorexia Nervosa Explained
  2. Being Ana: A Memoir of Anorexia Nervosa
  3. Decoding Anorexia: How Breakthroughs in Science Offer Hope for Eating Disorders

Anorexia Nervosa – (A Guide)

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.