Anorexia Nervosa is simply the resulting fear of weight gain, caused by severe starvation and excessive exercise. The debilitating factor is the non-stop journey on getting the ideal assurance of never gaining weight.
People may overlook eating disorders, confusing it for normal habits but you are about to understand that it is a very serious and harmful condition. With a lot of misconceptions and similar concepts on eating, it can be difficult to understand an eating disorder diagnosis as a real health condition.
Eating disorders go beyond the choice to starve or just lack of appetite or being on a diet. Relevant studies have uncovered they are actual psychological states that alter food consumption, exercising or weight control.
We would take gradual steps into understanding and differentiating this condition from other eating disorders and identify when an individual in such condition needs help. Assuming that other health condition eating disorders like anorexia nervosa can be treated with only medication may not be far from the truth but unlike most conditions, it requires multiple approaches for total recovery.
Anorexia refers to lack of appetite for food but is often misconstrued with anorexia nervosa which is an actual eating disorder.
What Anorexia Nervosa Is
Anorexia Nervosa is a psychological based eating disorder in which one has an extremely low body weight relative to their body type and height. The body weight is measured as BMI (Body Mass Index) to assess the appropriate body weight relative to the height of an individual.
Additionally, patients who suffer from anorexia nervosa usually have a thin look, abnormal eating patterns, excessive exercising, fear of weight gain or a distorted body image.
Here’s the voice of an Anorexic…
“Starvation fills a void inside me that was created by critics, whom I seek approval from, but this leaves me with an urge to be invisible and take to their advice “.
Major Types of Anorexia Nervosa
Two major types of Anorexia Nervosa include:
- Binge/Purge Type – In this type of anorexia nervosa, the individual often purges after eating out of fear of gaining weight and guilt of having eaten highly fattening food or too much food. They purge by vomiting, abusing medication that empties their bowels quickly.
- Restrictive Type – In this type, the individual can be more self-disciplined by limiting his/her food, calories, and often high fat or high sugar foods intake excessively tending towards starvation.
Their diet is too strict on calories that they are lesser than the requirements to maintain a healthy weight. This is a heartbreaking form of self-starvation.
Though two classifications of this eating disorder exist, both types exhibit similar symptoms, such as an irrational fear of weight gain and abnormal eating patterns.
Causes of Anorexia Nervosa
What may cause one not to eat well or become obsessed about losing weight even when they have the means to? May not be a difficult question to answer maybe you are just unhappy or not hungry or busy or maybe you are not a foodie but when it becomes an extreme and harmful habit there are more serious causes.
Certain biological and other environments are the major contributive factors that may result in the occurrence of this eating disorder.
The contributive biological factors which may trigger anorexia nervosa include:
- Hereditary traits (though more research is being done in these areas so far current literature identify a genetic predisposition)
- Abnormal hormone functions.
Such environmental factors that would contribute to the development of this eating disorder include:
- The promotion of thin people as sexy or as ideal stereotypes by the media.
- Careers and professions that promote weight loss and slim body structure, such as modeling, sports, and ballet
- Childhood and family-related traumas such as childhood sexual abuse and other traumatic experiences.
- Peer pressure among colleagues and friends to look slim or sexy.
Signs & Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa
A patient suffering from this health condition may reveal one or more of the following signs and symptoms:
- Prolonged abnormal restrictive dieting or starvation.
- Excessive and rapid weight loss which gives an emaciated look.
- Obsession with calories and fat contents of food.
- Usual eating patterns, such as hiding food, cutting food into little pieces or eating alone.
- Picky with food but enjoys preparing whole meals for others.
- Abnormal absence of 3 or more consecutive menstrual cycles
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- Unusual hair growth on the face and other parts of the body.
- Cold feeling or sensation especially in the hands and feet.
- Loss of hair
- Isolation and social withdrawal from friends and family.
Dieting Vs. Anorexia Nervosa
You may think that dieting uisng and restrictive anorexia nervosa may be similar to self-discipline in minimizing food intake for required purposes or healthy living, but there is still a crystal clear difference between them.
As an extreme behavior anorexia nervosa is far more harmful than any ill effects from proper dieting. is a controllable plan to control one’s weight while anorexia nervosa is often a means to cope with one’s life struggles and emotions as a result of traumatic events or certain insecurities.
While dieting with may be to lose weight as the primary aim, in anorexia nervosa losing weight is seen as a psychological perception to achieve personal happiness and self-mastery.
Ways to Curb Anorexia
You may be thinking if this harmful eating disorder can be treated, well it sure can be adequately managed to full recovery by a team of a well-qualified team of specialists.
This team consists of a physician, nutritionist, and therapist. A team is required to give a holistic treatment plan involving the major components of the disorder which includes the medical, nutritional and psychological components.
- Medical: This is often the most important in the treatment of anorexia nervosa, it addresses any serious health issues or complications that may have resulted from the abnormal feeding behaviors, such as malnutrition, dehydration, irregular menstrual cycle, and an irregular heartbeat.
- Nutritional: This component requires clinical supervision of adherence to weight restoration plan and adequate education about normal eating patterns.
- Therapy: This is to identify the underlying psychological causes associated with the anorexia nervosa in a particular individual, address these traumatic experiences and develop better ways to live above them. This part of the treatment is more thorough as the emotional struggles in people differ.