Understanding Anorexia Nervosa

Understanding Anorexia Nervosa

What is Anorexia Nervosa?

Some people believe that Anorexia Nervosa is a lifestyle choice, but that would be extremely wrong. Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder that is associated with eating restrictions and an excessive fear of gaining weight. There are two types of Anorexia Nervosa, characterized by how the patients control their weight gain:

  • Food restriction – the person eats extremely little
  • Binge eating/purging – the person eats a lot, and then forces the food out by either inducing vomiting or using laxatives or other chemicals that would force the food out.

Causes of Anorexia

The cause of Anorexia Nervosa is not known, although certain factors have been identified as symptoms leading to this eating disorder. Some of these factors are:

  • Excessive worry about self-image
  • History of anxiety disorders
  • History of eating disorders
  • Relatives with the same disorder (genetic)

Effects of Anorexia Nervosa

Unlike illnesses that target specific organs or parts of the human body, Anorexia Nervosa affects the body as a whole. This is because the nutrients that enter the body are severely limited. Individuals who suffer from this eating disorder is practically starving themselves to the point that it could be fatal. Here are some of the effects that Anorexia Nervosa could have on the body:

Brain – Individuals who suffer from this eating disorder will suffer from mood swings as well as a weak memory. They even suffer from fainting spells.

Heart – Blood pressure will be low, the heart rate will also drop and palpitations may be experienced.

Hair – Their hair will grow markedly thinner and more brittle.

Hormones – For female patients, their periods may just stop altogether. They may become infertile. Growth will be hampered.

Kidneys – Certain problems with kidneys would occur, such as kidney stones. If left unchecked, the kidneys just might fail altogether.

Skin – Individuals who suffer from anorexia nervosa will look sick. Their skin will be dry and will have a yellowish tint. They bruise easily. They also feel cold easily. Their nails will be brittle.

Can Anorexia Nervosa be cured?

Fortunately, this eating disorder can be cured. It will take both psychological treatment as well as physical monitoring to make sure that the treatment being carried out is effective. Individuals with Anorexia Nervosa are made to go through behavioural therapy as well as family interventions and interpersonal psychotherapy. Some doctor also use antidepressants and antipsychotics to treat Anorexia Nervosa.

It is very crucial that someone who suffer from Anorexia Nervosa be treated as soon as it is identified. The sooner that the essential nutrients start flowing through the person’s system, the better it would be for him or her.

Photo credit: Benjamin Watson

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