ANOREXIA NERVOSA

Today’s generation often associates beauty with the colour of one’s skin or the size of one’s waist, not realizing how embracing such norms affects the mental wellness of the people around them. The immense pressure to live up to these expectations often takes a toll on many in the worst way possible. One of the consequences of this stigma is Anorexia Nervosa.

Anorexia nervosa is an emotional disorder characterised by an obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat. It is most frequently diagnosed in teens and pre-adults. Contrary to the belief that women are the only ones prone to this condition, research conducted by PubMed Central suggests that the risk of eating disorders may be higher among transgender people than cisgenders and that males represent about 25% of those who are afflicted with anorexia. The reason for this is that males often receive a later diagnosis due to the mistaken and stereotypical belief that it does not affect them.

The terms ‘Anorexia’ and ‘Anorexia Nervosa’ are often used interchangeably. However, they are different in meaning. Anorexia is a condition in which one experiences a loss of appetite due to a disease or health condition whereas Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder which arises due to an excessive desire to lose weight.

Causes

Experts do not 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:

  • past criticism or a history of bullying about their eating habits, weight, or body shape

  • a sense of pressure from society or their profession to be slim

  • low self-esteem and anxiety

  • having a personality that tends toward obsession or perfectionism or their profession to be slim

  • sexual abuse

  • history of dieting

  • For some people, anorexia nervosa develops as a way of gaining control over an aspect of their life. 

Treatment and recovery

A healthcare professional makes a comprehensive plan to address the individual’s specific needs. This involves a team of specialists who can help the person overcome the physical, emotional, social, and psychological challenges that they face.

Strategies include:

  • cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which can help the person find new ways of thinking, behaving, and managing stress

  • family and individual counseling, as appropriate

  • nutritional therapy, which provides information on how to use food to build and maintain health

  • medication to treat depression and anxiety

  • supplements to resolve nutritional deficiencies

  • hospital treatment, in some cases

It can be challenging for a person with anorexia nervosa to engage in treatment. As a result, the person’s participation in therapy may fluctuate. Relapses can occur, especially during the first 2 years of treatment, although being attentive to the patient’s diet can prevent this.


 

 

Symptoms

Anorexia nervosa is a complex condition. The main sign is significant weight loss or low body weight. A lack of nutrients may lead to other physical signs and symptoms, including:

The person may also demonstrate certain behaviours, such as:

  • limiting their overall food intake or the range of foods they consume

  • showing excessive concern with weight, body size, dieting, calories, and food

  • exercising a lot, taking laxatives, or inducing vomiting

  • denying feeling hungry or avoiding mealtimes even while cooking for others 

  • developing food rituals, such as eating foods in a specific order

  • withdrawing from friends and social interaction

  • showing signs of depression

-Shrimayi Matanhelia