Anorexia: Signs, Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment

Anorexia in the mirrorAnorexia Nervosa is one of the most serious eating conditions around, and while we see it mostly among young women, it can occur in both genders at any age, and requires proper treatment. Eating disorders are classified as mental illnesses as they can actually change the way that we perceive ourselves, and make us believe that we’re much bigger than we actually are, even if we are nearing unhealthy levels of thinness. Let’s look into anorexia together and discuss how we can determine if somebody has it, and how to get them treatment.

Defining Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa causes severe disillusionment regarding body size, and makes those who suffer from it believe that they are fat, even if they’re nearing starvation. Despite the popular belief that only bulimics purge after eating, some anorexics will do so after eating only a small amount of food, if they eat at all. Other anorexics won’t eat at all, and refuse to even drink anything aside from a small amount of water from time to time. It can be particularly difficult to treat this illness as many anorexics will refuse and even fight offers for help, for fear that it will make them gain weight, which is one of the biggest fears they face.

What is Anorexia?
A Focus on Anorexia (PDF)
Anorexia Facts and Advice

How To Determine If Somebody You Know Suffers From Anorexia

Although it’s usually going to be relatively easy for us to spot somebody who has anorexia, there are times when eating disorders can camouflage themselves well, and many anorexics are embarrassed of their condition and will simply refuse to eat with friends or family for fear that they will be discovered. You may notice your loved one losing interest in things that he or she would normally get excited about. An eventual loss of appetite and aversion to food may appear out of nowhere, and excessive exercise and focus on weight loss will become a huge part of his or her life. Malnutrition plays a huge role in anorexia which means that those who suffer from it will begin to feel the effects of the disorder through problems like hair loss, bone frailty, blood disorders, and other negative reactions.

Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa
Effects and Symptom Awareness
Physical Warning Signs

Causes of This Disorder

Eating disorders can be caused by a number of many things combined together, and it’s different for everyone. We know that eating disorders are a mental illness, which means that they could be affected by stress, depression and hormones. Experts believe that eating disorders may also be linked to genetics and social media, as well as other forms of media worldwide.

These illnesses often develop during the very critical teen and adolescent years when bodies are changing, emotions are flowing, and what we look like can seem like defining factor of our lives. Other research has come to show a link between serotonin levels and eating disorders that prove that neurotransmitters may play a huge role in how you perceive yourself and the world around you.

Causes of Anorexia
Eating Disorder Causes
Causes and Recovery of Anorexia Nervosa (PDF)

Treatments and Therapies

The most well-known and lasting treatment is psychotherapy combined with group counseling and nutritional guidance. Similar to drug and alcohol addicts, anorexics and other patients who suffer from eating disorders should seek treatment through a rehabilitation center, or an out-patient therapy facility. This can assist in getting past those first stages where the body will begin getting used to not starving itself to death. It will also provide nutritious foods, and a safe place where staff are medical trained and able to assist if there is any sort of problem.

Unfortunately, up to twenty-four million people suffer from eating disorders in the United States, and 20% of these sufferers will die of heart complications and other health related factors stemming from an eating disorder, including suicide. Depression is a prevalent problem among those with this form of mental illness, in fact, we can see through the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders that nearly 50% of those diagnosed with an eating disorder will also be diagnosed as being depressed. For this reason, other treatment methods aside from the above mentioned therapy do sometimes involve anti-depressants, or other medications that are relevant to the symptoms and recovery of the patient.

Promising Treatment for Anorexia and Bulimia
Nutrition Intervention in the Treatment of Eating Disorders (PDF)
Recovery is Possible
The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders