Society’s imposing beauty standards are rising. Although we are experiencing many revolutions aimed at changing them, they still have a profound impact on people’s thinking and self-esteem. One of the direct consequences of these cosmetic models is the appearance and increase of eating disorders (including anorexia nervosa). Throughout this article, we will analyze the characteristics, symptoms, causes, and possible treatments of this disease.
What is Anorexia Nervosa?
In the classification of eating disorders, we find a disease called anorexia nervosa, or anorexia for short. While this disease occurs mainly in women, it increasingly affects more men. Anorexia Nervosa can lead patients who suffer it to restrict their food intake, causing weight loss.
The goal of this behavior is to lose weight. People with anorexia will feel overweight, even if their height and age are below the recommended weight. This makes anorexia an extremely dangerous disease. It can lead to death due to malnutrition, or illness due to weak human tissues and immune system
Weight loss can reach dangerously low levels because dietary restrictions are caused by the wrong perception of one’s own body. This means that no matter how much or how much people lose weight, it is far from being enough. Because when looking in the mirror, they will continue to perceive distorted shapes that do not correspond to reality. This causes the patient to make various sacrifices around food.
What are the causes of Anorexia Nervosa?
At present, it is not yet possible to determine the specific cause or exact cause of anorexia nervosa. Due to this, a series of biological, psychological, and environmental factors favor its appearance. The experience of personal or social traumatic or emotional events can play a fundamental role in determining the appearance of this eating disorder.
In addition, recent studies have indicated that there may be a number of genes related to the behavior of anorexia. They include symptoms such as compulsion, depression, perfectionism, and emotional sensitivity. However, there is no genetic or organic disease directly related to anorexia.
What are the symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa?
Anorexia has many different symptoms, and they are not all the same. If you have anorexia, your weight may be much lower than expected for your height and age. If you suffer from Anorexia Nervosa you can have one of the following behaviors:
- Eat less or restrict certain foods, such as fatty foods.
- Cut food into small pieces to make it look like you have eaten something and then become obsessed with another meal.
- Observe your body insistently, weigh yourself and measure yourself constantly.
- Taking appetite suppressants, such as weight loss pills.
- Forced vomiting after meals or taking laxatives or pills to remove water from the body (diuretics)
- Wear loose clothing to cover weight loss.
- Make yourself vomit.
When you have anorexia, you might feel lost due to a misguided perception of your weight or height. Some emotional symptoms include:
- Distorted body image
- Denies diet problems or low weight
- You have sudden mood swings.
- Feeling depressed
- Lose interest in others
- Lost interest in sex
In addition to weight loss, the physical symptoms of anorexia include:
- Thin hair on your body and face.
- Having permanent or recurrent colds.
- Swelling of the face and ankles.
- Weakness and dizziness
- Trouble sleeping
- Delayed puberty (because anorexia affects hormones)
- Inability to achieve or maintain an erection (male or boy)
What is the difference between Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia?
Although the laxative behavior described above may be related to another eating disorder (called bulimia), there are still many essential differences between the two disorders. These laxative episodes do not always occur in anorexia, but rather in bulimia. In eating disorders, this is the basic requirement for diagnosis.
In bulimia, the person eats a lot of generally high-calorie foods in a short period of time. They are called binge eating. However, in anorexia, the person avoids eating at all costs and controls calories thoroughly.
People with anorexia are characterized by being underweight, while in bulimia their weight is usually normal, even exceeding the recommended weight.
How to detect Anorexia Nervosa?
At first glance, some symptoms of anorexia nervosa can be difficult to identify. Some patients might be aware of these symptoms and do their best to hide them. If we want to determine if someone in the environment has this condition, we can observe many warning signs or behaviors. These signs include:
- Some patients eat nonstop.
- While others give an excuse not to eat.
- Choose foods strictly, generally low in calories.
- Keep weighing themselves constantly.
- Ongoing complaints about the weight.
- Some patients avoid eating in public places.
- Wear more and more layers to change the dress code.
What is the treatment of Anorexia Nervosa?
Anorexia nervosa is a very serious disease that, if left untreated, can have fatal consequences. So far, statistics show that 10% of patients with severe anorexia who do not receive treatment will terminate due to death. Due to the seriousness of the situation, an effective diagnosis should be made and treatment started as soon as possible.
In the environment of the patient participating in the treatment, the key to effectiveness is having compromise. The interventions include psychotherapy, in which psychological work is done on the emotional and cognitive aspects of the disease (including distorted physical perception).
Similarly, people need to be monitored for their physical conditions. Due to this a series of nutrition guidelines should be developed to help people reconcile with food.
Finally, in some cases of Anorexia Nervosa, it is possible to resort to medical treatment with antidepressants or anxiolytics. This will reduce the intensity of the symptoms and promote psychological work. Unfortunately, anorexia nervosa is a disease with a high risk of recurrence. Family members and medical professionals must pay attention to the signs and treatment of the patients.