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Unlike what is commonly believed, anorexia nervosa is not about loss of hunger but about a person constantly battling hunger in the quest for a slim and perfect body image. Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia are often not easy to diagnose and can lie dormant till they assume larger proportions. The statistics for anorexia and other eating disorders show that nearly 15% of young women adopt unhealthy eating habits and attitudes. What is the treatment for anorexia nervosa? What are its symptoms? Find answers to these and more!
Anorexia nervosa is a eating disorder that seems to be a sign of our times - a time when there is increased social pressure to be reed thin, symbolized by skinny fashion models. Nearly 80% of American women claim to be dissatisfied with their body shape and appearance. Nearly $109 million is spent each day in America on dieting and diet-related products. Dieters are more likely to develop compulsive dieting attitudes. Anorexia is not merely a physical condition, it has emotional and low self esteem fallouts too. The anorexia eating disorder typically affects teenage girls though it can affect older women and men too. This eating disorder involves excessive obsession with losing weight. The anorexia eating disorder is known as 'slimmer's Disease'.
A typical patient suffering from anorexia nervosa is constantly under the fear of gaining weight and refuses to maintain adequate body weight. Females tend to miss their menstrual periods and also experience dry skin with thinning hair. Anorexia nervosa can be a serious and chronic problem where the patient believes herself to be fat when she isn't. Such persons starve themselves and also exercise constantly. When a person becomes anorexic, she will have trouble concentrating and may feel cold often. If this anorexia eating disorder takes on a severe turn, the danger of starvation and death also looms large.
Bulimia stands for voracious appetite. Anorexia bulimia is another eating disorder that involves binge eating. Persons suffering from anorexia bulimia tend to swing between anorexia and bulimia. They always perceive themselves to be fatter than that they really are. People with anorexia bulimia go through bouts of binge eating, often accompanied by uncontrolled and chaotic eating behavior. This is usually followed by self-induced vomiting or excessive use of laxatives and diuretics in the quest to keep a perfect body shape. This body abuse can lead to severe life threatening problems such as depression, heart damage, kidney damage and damage to other parts of the digestive system. The extremes of overeating and the subsequent purging of the food from the body can lead to mental trauma.
Anorexia Nervosa Treatment
Treatment for anorexia nervosa needs special care and handling. Therapy is suggested to treat anorexia nervosa. It can go a long way in understanding the underlying emotional and psychological causes for the eating disorder. Other than individual therapy, family counseling is also crucial to the treatment of anorexia nervosa. Treating anorexia nervosa involves monitored meals and menu planning. The person suffering anorexia eating disorder must be counseled on nutritional needs. Cognitive behavioral therapy is used to affect an attitudinal change in the person. Treatment for anorexia nervosa aims at restoring a person to a healthy weight along with healthy eating patterns. Many a time, eating disorders are accompanied by depression, substance abuse and anxiety disorders. They have to be tackled during the treatment for the anorexia eating disorder. Those suffering from severe anorexia may need hospitalization for medication and monitoring.
It is alarming to note some of the anorexia statistics - This eating disorder along with similar conditions affects nearly 8 million Americans, mostly female. The mortality rates are also high. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, nearly 5 - 10 % of the persons suffering from these eating disorders die within a decade. It is shocking to note that the mortality rates for anorexia eating disorders is 12 times higher than the death rate due to other causes in females between 15-24 years. The statistics for anorexia eating disorder show that merely 1 in 10 receive treatment and the cost of treating it can be exorbitantly high. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia and other eating disorders are common among women of various ethic backgrounds - white women, African American or Asian. Many celebrities such as Jane Fonda, Princess Diana, Paula Abdul and Joan Rivers have suffered from eating disorders at some time.
Prolonged periods of inadequate food intake can take its toll on the heart, liver and kidneys and brain. It can cause the bones to become fragile and bring on osteoporosis. Growth is impeded and depression sets in. Cardiac problems such as bradycardia (slow rhythms) or nerve damage and seizures can occur in cases of extreme anorexia. Some of the damage can be permanent, even if the person returns to normal weight.
Some women may have a genetic predisposition to eating disorders though there is a major influence of behavioral and environmental factors. When the eating disorder brings about a loss in body weight that is at least 15% below the accepted weight range for the person, it is a symptom of anorexia. Sufferers of anorexia nervosa tend to be preoccupied with their body shape and pursue extremely low weight targets. This can lead to hormonal disturbances in women, cessation of menstrual cycle and delayed development in puberty. Other symptoms of anorexia nervosa are constipation and stomachache. Sufferers tend to avoid socializing and feel bloated even after a small meal.
Pro Anorexia is an online movement that is targeted at supporting the anorexia condition and the body image that goes with it. The Pro Anorexia movement involves web sites, tip for successful anorexia and also online journals and guides. It involves chat rooms and message boards that are popular with anorexic women and girls. The pro anorexia movement may have been around since 1998 and there has been considerable opinion on having these sites pulled off.