Anorexia Nervosa is a life threatening condition that can put a serious strain on many of the body’s organs and physiological resources. Anorexics have an intense fear of becoming fat. Their dieting habits develop from this fear. Anorexia mainly affects adolescent girls. Anorexia may be a serious disease for old men. Anorexia nervosa” is frequently shortened to “anorexia” in both the popular media and scientific literature. There are two types of anorexia. Classic Anorexia (Restricting Anorexia) The person eats very little and loses weight through self-starvation or excessive exercise. Binge-Eating/Purging Anorexia In addition to cutting the intake of calories, this person also binges and purges. Anorexia nervosa often starts between the ages of 15 and 25, but it can develop in children as young as 10 and in older people. Although 90% of those who develop anorexia are women, the condition also affects men. Anorexia nervosa is found in all social groups and almost all cultural groups.
One percent of teenage girls in the U.S. develop anorexia nervosa and up to 10% of those may die as a result. Anorexia can cause severe medical problems and even lead to death. Anorexia may be used as a way to express control when the rest of one’s life seems out of control. There are many signs that someone may have anorexia nervosa. The most frequently noticed is the extreme thinness that characterizes someone with this eating disorder. Common warning signs of anorexia incliding is a person suffering from anorexia is thin and keeps getting thinner. A person with anorexia may end up losing 15% or more of her ideal body weight. Anorexia creates a distorted body imagea person with anorexia feels fat even when she is thin or underweight. Anorexia may cause a person to complain about feeling bloated or nauseated even when she eats normalor less than normalamounts of food. A person suffering from anorexia may feel cold even though the temperature is normal or only slightly cool. Support groups are also invaluable in treating anorexia.
Anorexia can be treated with psychotherapy and diet advice but these are only effective if the person is ready to get better. Cognitive techniques which recognize the importance of addressing distorted self-body images and perfectionist thinking are frequently used, and should be part of the initial focus of treatment. Psychoeducational materials are sometimes used to instruct patients on how to recognize the appropriate body weight and body fat proportions of a normal body. Oftentimes additional psychiatric concerns must be addressed such as specific traumatic events or memories which may underlie the negative self-image associated with anorexia. Effective inpatient anorexia treatment sometimes uses behaviorally-oriented token economies which reward patients for eating regular meals. Self-help groups may also be helpful. It is often comforting to talk to other people who have been through the same thing. Therapy involving the family may also be helpful, especially when a younger child has anorexia.
Anorexia Treatment Tips
1. Antidepressants (such as amitriptyline) are the usual drug treatment and may speed up the recovery process.
2. Chlorpromazine may be beneficial for those individuals suffering from severe obsessions and increased anxiety and agitation.
3. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is never an appropriate treatment option for a person suffering from an uncomplicated eating disorder.
4. Self-help methods for the treatment of this disorder are often overlooked by the medical profession.
5. Oftentimes additional psychiatric concerns must be addressed such as specific traumatic events.
6. Self-help groups may also be helpful. It is often comforting to talk to other people who have been through the same thing.