What is anorexia nervosa?
Anorexia nervosa is a serious mental health condition and life-threatening eating disorder. However, with proper treatment, it can be cured.
Anorexia nervosa often involves emotional challenges, an unrealistic body image, and an exaggerated fear of gaining weight. However, it can affect people differently.
In some cases, an individual may lose a significant amount of weight and exhibit behaviors characteristic of anorexia but do not have a very low weight or body mass index (BMI). Researchers refer to this as atypical anorexia nervosa.
Anorexia nervosa most often appears during the teenage years or early adulthood, but it can sometimes begin in the pre-teens or later in life.
Symptoms of anorexia nervosa.
Anorexia nervosa is a complex condition.
The main sign is:
Significant weight loss or low body weight. In atypical anorexia nervosa, the person may still be at moderate weight despite significant weight loss.
Lack of nutrients may cause other physical signs and symptoms, including:
1. Severe loss of muscle mass.
2. Lethargy, tiredness, or fatigue.
3. Low blood pressure.
4. Lightheadedness or dizziness.
5. Low body temperature with cold hands and feet.
6. Flatulence or stomach upset.
7. Dry skin.
8. Swelling of hands and feet.
9. Hair loss.
10. Menopause or less frequent periods.
13. Loss of bone density, which increases the risk of fractures.
14. Brittle nails.
17. Fluff, which is fine hair on the body.
18. Increased facial hair.
19. Bad breath and tooth decay in people who vomit frequently.
The person may also display certain behaviors, such as:
1. Limiting overall food intake or the range of foods they consume.
2. Exercising too much, taking laxatives, or inducing vomiting.
3. Evaluate body weight and size frequently.
4. Talk about “obesity” or being overweight.
5. Denying feeling hungry or avoiding meals.
A person may associate food with guilt.
They may appear unaware that something is wrong or not want to recognize their eating problems.
Causes of anorexia nervosa.
Concerns about body weight and shape are often a feature of anorexia nervosa, but they may not be the main cause. Experts don’t know exactly why the condition occurs, but genetic, environmental, biological and other factors may play a role.
Some factors that may increase a person’s risk include:
1. Previous criticism of their eating habits, weight, or body shape.
2. A history of harassment or bullying, especially regarding weight or body shape.
3. A feeling of pressure from society or their profession to be skinny.
4. low self-esteem.
6. Possessing an obsessive or perfectionist personality.
7. A history of dieting.
8. The pressure to conform to cultural norms other than their own.
Biological and genetic factors.
A person may also have a higher chance of developing an eating disorder if:
1. A first-degree relative had a similar disorder.
2. There is a family history of depression or other mental health problems.
3. They have type 1 diabetes.
4. Researchers have found that people with anorexia nervosa may have different gut microbial communities than those without the condition.
This can contribute to anxiety, depression, and greater weight loss.
Treatment and recovery.
A healthcare professional will develop a comprehensive plan to meet the specific needs of the individual; it will include a team of professionals who can help the person overcome the physical, emotional, social and psychological challenges they face.
1. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which can help a person find new ways to think, act and manage stress.
2. Family and individual counseling, as appropriate.
3. Nutritional therapy, which provides information about how to use food to build and maintain health.
4. Medication to treat depression and anxiety.
5. Food supplement to solve nutritional deficiencies.
6. Hospital treatment, in some cases.
It can be difficult for a person with anorexia nervosa to go into treatment. As a result, a person’s participation in treatment may fluctuate. Relapses can occur, especially during the first two years of treatment.
Complications can affect every body system, and they can be severe.
They include problems with:
Blood, such as a low white or red blood cell count.
Some of these issues can be life threatening. In addition to the physical effects of malnutrition, a person may be at greater risk of suicide.
“Anorexia nervosa: What you need to know”, www.medicalnewstoday.com