Anorexia or Anorexia nervosa is a type of eating disorder, which has its roots in psychological disturbance.
Did you know ...
- 150,000 women die from anorexia each year in the United States of America
- Studies have shown that more than half of anorexia patients have been sexually abused or suffer from some major trauma.
- According to a recent Cosmopoliatan survey, 67% of young people envy someone else's body, 31% feel guilty about food every day, 27% use laxatives and 21% smoke as a way to lose weight and 30% are more worried about their weight than anything .
- Experts estimate that 1 of every 100 women between the ages of 12 and 25 suffers from anorexia, while 1 out of every 7 women in the same age group develops bulimia. In Men, though it exists, it is less frequent.
- Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychological disease. Without treatment, up to 20% of people with serious eating disorders die. Even with treatment, the death rate is 2-3%.
- Almost 86% of all victims reach the onset of their illness by age 20.
What is Anorexia
Anorexics do have an appetite but they choose to ignore their hunger. Most of these peopel are skinny but they see themselves as fat. Many people with this disorder restrict their intake to fewer than 1,000 calories per day which is way lower than the normal human intake. They either starve themselves, have laxatives, or even exercise beyond normal levels.
It is said that almost 95% of anorexia patients are women, though research has shown that men are also falling victim to this disorder. Many people including members of the medical fraternity believe that there is a connection between anorexia and media's promotion of thin and trim figure as an ideal and a recipe for health, success and happiness.
It has been found that people suffering from anorexia are mostly from a higher economic bracket and either are or aspire to be in professions where external image is important.
What causes Anorexia
Research and studies are still on to determine why some people have anorexia while others don’t. Though no conclusive medical or psychological reason is forthcoming, many theories have been propounded. These are based on a number of factors such as genetics, the environment around the person, and personality of the patient. It may stem from a poor self image owing to societal pressures to conform to set ideal looks.
Studies in the United States have shown disturbing results where scientists have found that, the people suffering from Anorexia nervosa have a decreased level of In studies of the biochemical functions of neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine, similar to those in people suffering from depression. They also found that some patients has higher than normal levels of cortisol, which is a brain hormone which gets released due to stress, thus showing that stress factor could be a possible reason as well.
Anorexia has a number of symptoms but it is not necessary that everty patient exhibits all the tendencies. It could vary in individuals. The symptoms could range from body weight that is not consistent with the age, height and build of the person, highly irregular periods in women, a heightened sense of anxiety and nervousness, acute weakness, and dry and brittle skin.
As the anorexic’s condition deteriorates, a number of serious side effects occur and are endured to stay slim. These include depression, anxiety, insomnia, anemia, infertility, loss of sexual drive, impaired thinking, shrunken bones, mneral loss, constipation, perspiration, slow pulse rate, low blood pressure, reduced body temperature, changes in colour and texture of hair, nails and skin and excessive hair growth on the body. Such people even have trouble in conceiving a child and giving birth
It is also a known fact that eventually chronic illness sets in and if the condition is not treated, the sufferer may die from malnutrition, hypothermia or dehydration. Since the weight loss is apparent to everyone but the sufferer (who imagines that his or her body is larger than what it really is), there is an added pressure to eat, which can make things worse. At this point, it is imperative to consult a doctor and get urgent medical attention.
In the matter of anorexia, home treatment is not advisable. Most alternative therapists and practitioners agree that help in hospitals is essential in the early stages of recovery. The sooner it is diagnosed, better are chances of the person getting cured. The conventional treatment ranges from slow weight gain of up to 1.5 to 2 kilos per week to psychotherapy, individual or group therapy and even family counseling. In case of alternative therapies, it is the belief that they must be used in conjunction with orthodox treatments and counseling. Some which may help are-
Acupuncture experts feel that it can be used to relieve stress, balance the body’s energy and promote well being.
Art therapists can give patients a creative outlet for pent up feelings, and the patients, through a discussion of the work they create, can give the therapist pointers to emotional states and the progress being made.
Dance therapy is also a good outlet for pent up feelings and has proved especially useful in treating adolescents who are withdrawn and suffer from neurotic illness. It may encourage them to feel a sense of purpose and identity.
The therapist will discuss patients problems and try to establish a rapport, so that the patient is receptive to hypnosis. Ideally the patient is then susceptible to suggestions and will be given post-hypnotic ideas such as a positive feeling towards eating instead of revulsion to food.
- Anorexia Nervosa
- What Is Anorexia?
- Eating Disorders