Skipping meals and watching your weight isn't always a sign of a larger problem, but when it becomes a habit and turns into an obsession, things can start to get a lot more serious.
Possibly one of the most well-known eating disorders, anorexia nervosa is shown in the media to be somewhat glamorous, but in reality it is absolutely debilitating. Identifying anorexia isn't usually clear cut and it can present differently in each individual, making it difficult to diagnose and even harder to treat. If you suspect that someone you love may be suffering, see if what you are noticing aligns with some of the typical behaviors and effects seen in people with this mental illness.
Effects of Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia, generally, involves restrictive eating habits or not eating at all for lengthy periods of time. Sufferers also will generally have a distorted perspective of what their body looks like, similar to body dysmorphia, which only exacerbates the obsession for losing more weight. Overtime, this thought pattern and lack of fuel for the body can have a variety of negative effects on the body such as:
- Extreme weight loss, relative to average body size
- Abnormal blood counts
- Dizziness or fainting spells
- Bluish discoloration of fingertips
- Hair loss or thinning
- Loss of a period in women
- Cold intolerance
- Excess of downy hair covering the body
- Irregular heart rhythms
What Happens After Diagnosis?
Getting help is the first step to recovery from anorexia, as hard as it may seem. When you get in to see a doctor, one of the first things they will want to do is a physical exam to get a baseline assessment of your body in its current state. They will measure:
- Your height and weight for a BMI assessment
- Body Temperature and pulse rate
- Sitting and standing blood pressure readings
- Laboratory tests like blood sugar reading and an electrolyte count
Gathering all of these stats is important after a diagnosis to be able to track progress from there on out, and to make sure that the patient is not in critical condition and needs to be hospitalized. Assuming they are healthy enough to proceed, the next course of action would be treatment for anorexia nervosa which is by far the most difficult part of facing this disease.
Anorexia Nervosa Treatment Options
Everyone with anorexia will present differently, but there are some treatment methods that are generally considered standard. It will usually involve some form of talk therapy and is accompanied by weight-gain under the supervision of medical professionals. These methods are meant to both get the body back to a better physical condition, as well as face the trauma or emotional problems that created the disorder and were also a result of the disorder. Whatever treatment methods are offered, it is important to realize that treatment of anorexia varies from person to person and some things that work for some will not work for others. If it seems like the course of treatment is not working as effectively as needed, it is important to be an advocate and speak up to figure out exactly what therapies will work best for the individual so they can get back to being healthy again.