Anorexia Help & Treatment
Anorexia is a severe form of an eating disorder that stems from an abnormal obsession with becoming thin. It often begins with normal levels of dieting and exercising but becomes a problem when the sufferer starts obsessing over the need to become thinner and thinner.
Anorexia nervosa is a mental health condition that can be life-threatening. It can have irreversible complications on the body. Anorexia is characterized by drastic weight loss, lack of appetite, problems maintaining a proper body weight for the person’s height and body structure, and a distorted body image.
Adolescence is the most common age to develop anorexia, but people can develop the disease at younger and older ages in life. You cannot always tell if a person is struggling because some people are of average weight after receiving treatment. The struggles can last for years, even after recovery and weight stabilization have been achieved.
It affects people of both genders, races, and ethnicities. Most anorexia sufferers are young women and teenage girls, although there is a worryingly rising trend in pre-teen sufferers and a significant percentage of anorexics are older women and even men.
Am I Anorexic?
You may be anorexic if you can answer yes to the following questions:
- Do you look in your mirror and see your body as fat even though friends, family, and even doctors tell you that you are not fat or even overweight? Do they tell you that you are actually too thin and underweight and you do not believe them at all?
- Do you have a tremendous, overwhelming fear of gaining weight, even just a few pounds? Does the number on the scale terrify you if the number goes up or also if it remains the same? Does your day revolve around the number on the scale?
- Do you try to hide from your family, friends, and Doctor how much you eat or do not eat? Do you like to eat alone, away from others? Do you hide or throw away food secretively?
- Do you get repeated comments about how much weight you have lost, how your clothes fit different, or that your physical appearance has changed drastically?
- Are you obsessed with dieting and losing weight, how you eat or how your physical appearance has changed, do you obsessively read diet books, magazines, and advertisements? Do you always worry about what you will eat or not eat, or how much exercise you will get and your day revolves around that?
- Do exercise much more than is recommended. Do you feel A compulsion to do exercises and you feel very anxious and worried if you not do the amount of activity that you plan to do for the day?
- When you restrict your food, lose weight, purge, or exercise, does it make you feel powerful and in control of your life and body? Do you feel out of control or panic if you do not restrict, purge, or exercise or follow a planned menu?
- When you think of your self-worth, and self-esteem do you base it on what you weigh, your clothing size, or your physical appearance? Do you hate yourself if your body or number on the scale is not what you think it should be?
How We Can Help
You can get personalized care at Rehab Recovery for treating anorexia nervosa. They will help you to have a good relationship with food. You will also receive and learn how to cope, raise your self-esteem, and work through the issues that are underlining the problem with anorexia. You will be empowered to overcome triggers that set off anorexia nervosa symptoms.
Thousands of people take charge of their lives and eating disorders so that they can live healthy and vibrant life. If you are willing to make the necessary changes, then we can help you overcome anorexia nervosa, and it’s debilitating and harmful effects on your life. It’s anorexia treatment at its best.
Types of Anorexia
Anorexics generally will restrict their calories and certain types of food and drink. Some may also have the eating disorder bulimia nervosa where a person binges on food and then purges or gets rid of the food by vomiting, taking laxatives, or by food restriction after the binge.
They may also exercise excessively, and this is found in both bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. People with anorexia also have irrational fears of gaining weight, and they weigh themselves multiple times a day.
They are very self-disciplined and carefully plan their day, which will revolve around food, diet, exercise, weight, and body size. They will restrict high-fat, high-sugar, and high-calorie foods. They consume far too little calories to remain healthy and at a healthy and average weight for their body structure and body size. Most people need anorexia treatment for the disorder.
Signs and Symptoms of Anorexia
A person is always on a diet of some sort even though they may be abnormal weight or even be underweight. They follow an extremely restrictive food plan and avoid food that they consider to be bad to eat. They will only eat certain foods.
They lie and are deceptive about what they eat or don’t eat. They may push their food around the plate in an attempt to look like they are eating. They may keep a napkin on their lap to hide the food that they put in it. They may claim to have eaten when they have not. They will use every excuse in the book to get out of eating any food.
Even though they don’t eat, they are obsessed with food. They think about it all the time. They may cook a considerable meal for others but then not eat it. They may cut recipes out of magazines and cookbooks or food magazines. They may enjoy shopping for food but have little interest in eating it themselves.
They may have odd, secretive, and strange rituals with food. They may refuse to eat in front of people or in public places like restaurants or the school cafeteria or even in front of family and friends.
They may eat in a way that looks ritualistic or strange. They may cut or position their food in a specific way on their plate. Sometimes they may have the disgusting habit of first chewing their food and spitting it out into a napkin. They may also insist on using only certain utensils and plates.
Dramatic weight loss is the number one symptom of anorexia. Their weight loss is unexpected at has no known medical cause. This is one area with anorexia treatment is vital and medically necessary.
Here are some other signs to look out for:
- They may feel and insist that they are fat even though they are actually underweight and weight loss would be harmful.
- They develop a complete focus on their body image. This becomes a driving factor in all that they do, and everything seems to revolve around this.
- They hate everything about how they look, and positive compliments mean nothing to them.
- They will never admit that they are too thin. even when presented with medical facts, they will still deny it
- They begin using diet pills, laxatives and diuretics, and Ipecac syrup. You may find empty boxes are missing unexplained money. These products can cause dehydration, dizziness, electrolyte imbalances, and cardiac arrhythmias
- Exercise may be getting out of hand. It may become a compulsion and become excessive. It may become so severe that it makes them exhausted or even passed out. They may force themselves to exercise even with injuries or illness.
Complications of Anorexia
Below we have listed some of the most common side-effects of anorexia and some complications that could lead to serious health issues:
- Oedema/ whole body swelling
- Heart arrhythmias
- Heart failure
- Lung failure
- Gastrointestinal problems and bleeding
- Severe muscle weakness
- Delirium from starvation
- Dizziness/ loss of coordination
- Bone loss/ osteoporosis
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Low blood sugar
- Growth and developmental problems in children and Adolescent
- Total body shut down
- Low blood pressure
- Low body temperature
- Dry skin
- Hair loss
- Brittle nails
- Loss of menstruation
Causes of Anorexia
Researchers and psychologists have yet to pinpoint a direct root or ’cause’ of anorexia nervosa. As with any psychological condition or mental health disorder, there are various factors that could contribute to the development of such a debilitating condition.
Below we have listed some related causes of anorexia:
- Being susceptible to anxiety disorders and depression can make one more vulnerable to anorexia
- Unable to properly handle stress and stressful situations in their lives
- Someone who is excessively worried or fearful about their future. They cannot handle the unexpected in their lives
- Someone who is a perfectionist and cannot handle things going wrong or things not going entirely right. This person may obsess about rules and be very rigid in their ways and their thinking
- Someone who already has a very negative self-image is very susceptible to anorexia
- Diagnosis of a pre-existing anxiety problem during childhood
- Pre-existing ideas about weight loss, Beauty, and health. this person may have been influenced by society and culture, and this amplifies the pre-existing thoughts and feelings
- Excessive self-control over their minds and behaviour. They may have rigid thinking and are easily set in their ways. They may feel that their way is the only way and may not be open to new ideas or ways of thinking
- Physical, mental, or sexual abuse can play a big part in the development of an eating disorder like anorexia. Anorexia treatment needs to focus on this
- Hormonal changes the person goes through during puberty plus stress and anxiety that accompanies low self-esteem and low self-image
- A child who was bullied especially bullied about their weight, body, or also their physical appearance
- The pressure to perform well in school either by self- demand or by excessive parental pressure
- Someone may go through a very upsetting and stressful life event like a divorce of their parents or a death in the family or even having a parent or spouse become unemployed, especially for any length of time
- One of the biggest causes of anorexia is a feeling of loss of control. Taking control of food, diet, and weight can make a person feel more in control of their bodies and their lives
Steps For Getting Treatment
A person must first admit that they have a problem. People may have the idea that weight loss and being an ideal weight will give them and bring them happiness. They must reject this false ideal. Learned behaviours can be unlearned, and a person can get better.
Recovery begins when a person listens to their feelings, listens to their body and accepts themselves for who they are, and then learns to love themself. You need to reach out for support. You also choose the right time and place you need to start a conversation on the subject and be patient with the person who needs help and a person who needs to help us be patient with those who want to help them.
Hospitalization and treatment programs are available when a person’s life is in immediate danger due to being underweight or other physical hazards like electrolyte imbalances that cause a direct physical threat to the body.
1. Medical Care
Medical Care is usually needed because of the physical issues that anorexia causes. The person’s vital signs, fluid levels, and electrolyte imbalances may need to be closely monitored at first.
They may even need a nasogastric tube to be fed at first if they refuse to eat or if they are especially debilitated and weak. The primary goal of treatment is the restoration of the person’s weight and stabilization of the Vital signs.
Psychotherapy is another vital component of treatment. There a person can go into deeper areas of their mind and life. It can be family-based where all the family comes together to talk, or there could be one on one individual therapy that is private, and the person may be able to open up more.
It can also be a combination of both. It can also be combined with group therapy and this. Sometimes it can help, but it can create competition over who is the thinnest, and a qualified person must lead it.
Medications for anorexia have not yet been officially approved, but some doctors will prescribe drugs off-label. These are usually to increase a person’s appetite. Medications may also get prescribed for anxiety or depression, and mood stabilizers may get prescribed for unstable moods.
Self-Help For Anorexia
There are many online resources for those who are struggling with anorexia nervosa. A wealth of websites and charities exist worldwide that focus solely on providing support to those struggling with anorexia nervosa and their families.
Below we have listed some self-help tips as a guide for those struggling with anorexia. By no means should this be the sole treatment for this condition: you should always contact your GP or a registered dietitian if you are becoming concerned that you or someone you love is suffering from anorexia.
The tips include:
- Seek out others’ help, and you will find it
- Be creative with your menu plans and have them checked by a professional like a dietitian
- Do not weigh yourself more than once weekly
- Set up an exercise contract with a healthcare professional and follow it
- Only take medication as your Healthcare practitioner prescribes them to you. But you should avoid laxatives, diet pills, and diuretics
- Avoid magazines that focus on diet, looks, and ones where you compare yourself to fake airbrushed models
- Take your time and mindfully eat your food
- Try to eat with family and friends that you trust and don’t isolate yourself when you eat
- Keep a food diary but don’t obsess over it
The outlook is bright or those with anorexia, and there is plenty of ideas available for anorexia treatment. Someone with anorexia needs a lot of encouragement and support because the relapse rate is so high. But if a person seeks help, help is out there.
Treatment is usually long-term for it to be successful, and a person needs to have a strong commitment and support of their family. But with the right treatment, they can and do recover.
Specialized Eating Disorder Intervention
A dietician can provide an eating plan to ensure the person gets the proper nutrition while gaining weight. This is vital for anorexia treatment. Special meals are essential to get all the necessary nutrients, and slowly introducing foods can decrease anxiety.
Body image workshops that deal with body image distortions can help a person accept their body and see it for what it really is. Nasogastric tubes can also be administered when a person rejects oral food, and their body desperately needs nutrition to survive.