What Is Anorexia Nervosa?
By Madhusudhan Tammisetti
In today's image-obsessed world, there's too much pressure to look fit. Unfortunately, the meaning of looking fit changed to looking thin. The preoccupation with looking thin has changed the eating habits and resulted in a serious eating disorder called anorexia nervosa.
Anorexia is an unhealthy eating disorder characterized by excessive weight loss and self-starvation. A person diagnosed with anorexia weighs at least 15 percent less than the normal body weight. Extreme weight loss in people suffering from anorexia may lead to serious health problems.
The literal meaning of anorexia is the loss of appetite. This definition is a bit misleading as people diagnosed with anorexia are often hungry but refuse to eat food. Anorexia patients suffer from an intense fear of gaining weight and see themselves as fat even when they look thin. They exercise excessively and limit food intake to correct this perceived defect to lose weight.
Causes of Anorexia
Research suggests a combination of environmental and biological factors with certain thinking patterns, emotions, and personality traits might be responsible for anorexia.
When people are very stressed or overwhelmed, they tend to change their food habits to control their lives. Anger, loneliness, anxiety, low self-esteem, and inadequacy may also be some of the factors causing the disorder. Also, people suffering from eating disorders may be in troubled relationships or have a history of being ridiculed about their weight or size. Peer pressure and a society that perceives beauty with thinness and physical appearance may also contribute to anorexia.
Hormonal changes that control how the mind and body maintain appetite, mood, memory, and thinking may cause eating disorders. In some people, anorexia nervosa tends to run in their families for generations, indicating hereditary disorder.
Symptoms of Anorexia
People obsessed with body shape or weight go to extreme lengths, such as following a restrictive diet or exercising excessively, to fit into a clothing size. A drastic weight loss can be seen in these people. Even though they are underweight, they feel fat and have a strong urge to lose weight. They spend most of the time in front of the mirror finding perceivable flaws in their shape and size and refuse they are too thin.
Treatment for Anorexia
The first step to treat people suffering from anorexia is to make them accept they have an eating disorder. If they continue to live like this, they may have to face serious health problems such as kidney failure, dehydration, malnutrition, or an irregular heartbeat.
Psychotherapy may help change the thinking and behavior of a person with anorexia. Besides psychotherapy, nutritional counseling may help the patient bring the bodyweight to normal levels.
Seek family or friends help if you are suffering from anorexia. You can curb rapid weight loss with proper counseling.
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