The thesis describes an eating disorder called Anorexia that is predominant in men and women of all age groups. Achievement of happiness by reducing weight than ideal weight becomes the focus off a person affected. The paper describes the symptoms and signs of the disorder. The anorexia preoccupies the person’s mindset and negligence towards life is predominant. Health professionals and doctors pursue various methods of medication and counseling which are briefly described in the paper. Recovery from the disorder strongly relies on the commitment of the patient towards treatment so that the risk of re-elapse of the disorder is less.
Anorexia is a complex eating disorder that leads to loss of weight and serious health problems (Rogge, 2013). Weight loss is more than the ideal weight and health of a person. The health problems caused due to the disorder can be even life-threatening. The term Anorexia means loss of appetite and the disorder is characterized by excessive loss of weight (15% less than the actual ideal body weight) and self-starvation. The disorder affects both men and women at any age and is predominant in women. Persons with anorexia fear extremely about weight gain, see themselves as being overweight even in the case where they are under-weight, do excessive dieting and exercising. Others try to lose weight by self-induced vomiting, reduced eating and putting restrictions to their eating habits (Rogge, 2013).
Types of Anorexia
Anorexia can be classified into two types, restricting type caused by excessive weight loss, dieting and fasting, and purging type caused by deliberate vomiting or using laxatives and diuretics (Grohol, 2013).
Difference between Anorexia and Healthy Dieting
Healthy dieting is a way to control weight, but anorexia leads to controlling of emotions and feelings. Anorexia leads self-esteem based on just body image and low body weight. Healthy dieting focuses on reducing body weight for good health and appearance. On the other hand, anorexia focuses on reducing weight to achieve happiness. In healthy dieting goal is to lose weight in a healthy manner. In anorexia health is neglected (Duckworth & Freedman, 2013).
Causes of Anorexia
Researchers found out that certain personality traits, pattern of thinking and emotions are responsible for anorexia. Biological and environmental factors can also be the causes for anorexia. When people with anorexia find their lives and other areas to be very stressful they result to eating as a way to gain self-control. Anger, anxiety, low self-esteem and loneliness can also be the causes of the disorder. Eating disorders might be developed due to improper relationships and history of being teased about a person’s weight and health. Pressure from friends and society about health and beauty can also be the causes for the development of anorexia (Rogge, 2013).
Symptoms of Anorexia
One of the symptoms of anorexia is difference in weight compared to the weight of a normal person. A person who is anorexic has 15% less weight than the ideal body weight (Duckworth & Freedman, 2013). In most cases, the person refuses to maintain an ideal weight or above ideal weight and does not maintain a healthy body. Refusal to maintain a healthy body is anorexia. In children, it is difficult to identify anorexia because the weight may be proportionate to the height. A stunted growth due to eating disorder may be a possible complication. Children may express a possibility of nausea or feeling of fullness rather than weight (Rogge, 2013).
Anorexia patients have the fear of gaining weight leading to starvation. Specific foods and high fat foods are commonly avoided by most people suffering from anorexia. A person may be constantly thinking about the calories in food and the exercise needed to reduce the calorie taken after eating the food. The patients thus end up having intense exercise in order to reduce weight even when they have not taken any food (Rogge, 2013).
The other symptom that is common in people suffering from anorexia is the problem with their body image. A person with anorexia looks himself/herself as fat even though he/she may be dangerously thin. It is very difficult to make him/her understand that he/she is dangerously thin or make the person come to the realization that such dieting habits could be fatal. This has resulted to a high death rate due to anorexia than due to psychiatric illness. Other symptoms include wearing loose clothes to hide the thin body, feeling ill, striving for perfection, irregular or absence of menstruation period in females, anxiety and depression, withdrawal from social functions, feeling worthless and sensitivity to cold (Duckworth & Freedman, 2013).
Effects of Anorexia
Several effects have been associated with anorexia. These effects include severe moods swings, depression, lack of energy, tooth decay and gum damage. Other effects include loss of memory and poor thinking, fainting, headaches, dizziness, dryness of the skin, brittle nails, and growth of hair all over the body. When the anorexia is not treated, it can cause damage of organs such as the kidneys, heart and brain, drop in breathing rates, blood pressure and pulse, hair loss, thinning of bones, suicide or death due to starvation (Rogge, 2013).
Tests are conducted by a doctor to find the causes of weight loss and identify what damage the weight loss has caused. Many of the tests are conducted repeatedly over time in order to monitor the patient. The tests include albumin test, bone density test, electrocardiogram (ECG), kidney and liver function test, urinalysis and total protein tests. A psychiatrist or psychologist may be referred if no physical illness is found where specially designed interviews and assessments are conducted to diagnose the eating disorders (Rogge, 2013).
The challenge in treating an anorexic person is making the person recognize that he or she has the illness. Most people tend to deny that they have an eating disorder and only seek medical assistance when the situation is serious. Emergency arises in extreme cases of dehydration, kidney failure, malnutrition and irregular heart beat which may pose a risk to life. Ttreatment aims to restore normal eating habits and body weight. Gaining weight gain by 1 to 3 pounds every week is considered to be a safe was to recovery. Treating emotional issues of self-esteem, thinking patterns, behavioral issues are other goals. Some of the interventions that are taken in order to achieve weight gain are increased society activity, reduced physical activity, and proper eating schedules (Duckworth & Freedman, 2013).
The treatment may be in the form of psychotherapy where the patients undergo counseling with an aim of changing their thinking pattern and behavioral pattern. The psychotherapy sessions also aim to develop a healthy attitude towards food and weight and at the same time teaching the patients on various approaches for facing difficult situations in life (Attia & Walsh, 2009). The other form of treatment is through the use of medications such as anti-depressants in order to control anxiety and depression. An example of the medications is the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Anti-depressants also stimulate sleep and appetite. Other medications are also carried out to control anger/anxiety, attitude towards food and body image (Duckworth & Freedman, 2013).
Other than the psychological counseling, the patients also go through nutrition counseling where they are taught the importance of a balanced diet and nutrition. This helps in restoring normal eating patterns of the patient. Group and family therapy are also applied as another form of offering treatment to anorexia patients. Family support is a very essential part of the treatment process. This calls for the family to understand the eating disorder, recognize its symptoms and keep up the hope that the individual will be cured. In group therapy, patients with eating disorders are allowed to convey their feelings or concerns freely with persons who share similar experiences and problems (Rogge, 2013).
In those cases where the condition is serious, hospitalization may be recommended. This helps in feeding the through the most effective means especially in the cases of malnutrition such as through a vein or stomach tubes. Weight loss even after treatment and development of severe complications such as heart disorders, confusions, low potassium levels, severe depression leading to risk of suicide may also lead to hospitalization. Nurse practitioners, physicians, physical assistants, dieticians, mental health care providers are involved in the treatment program (Duckworth & Freedman, 2013).
Anorexia could be life-threatening if left untreated. It led to death in 10% of the cases (Sullivan, 1995). Persons with anorexia can be treated and brought back to a healthy body weight, but the chances of return of the disease are high. Anorexia requires long-term treatment. A person should have high commitment. Women who develop this disorder at an early age have high chances of recovery. People with anorexia continue to maintain low weight and focus on calorie intake during and after treatment. Family support and care from loved ones can help in ensuring that the person receives required treatment. All cases of anorexia cannot be prevented but encouraging healthy attitude towards eating can prevent worsening of eating disorders (Rogge, 2013).
Helping a Person with Anorexia
The person not suffering from anorexia can support and help the anorexic person in some way. One may offer help to solve the problem to some extent especially when the person helping showcase as an outsider. A person can also help by acting as a role model to the patient by eating healthy food, exercising, maintaining ideal body weight and good body image. Negative comments in front of the anorexic person should be avoided. Another was to help anorexia patient is by seeking advice from a health professional on behalf of the patient. Including family members in the group and circle of support may also help in enhancing acceptance (NHS Choices, 2012).
A person with anorexia needs to regain weight and become healthy. One should not act authoritative and stand as a calorie counter in front of the anorexic person. The person assisting should also avoid angry behavior, out-bursts, and threats. This is because an anorexic person is depressed and emotionally distressed and such acts will only make things get worse. Helping the patient get treatment at the right time can reduce the severity of the disorder. Teaching, encouragement for healthy eating habits, realistic attitude towards food and body image helps in the prevention of the anorexia. Treatment also makes the individuals value themselves (NHS Choices, 2012).
Attia, E., & Walsh, B. T. (2009). Behavioral management for anorexia nervosa. New England Journal of Medicine, 360(5), 500-506.
Duckworth, K., & Freedman, J. (2013). Anorexia Nervosa. Retrieved April 10, 2014, from http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=By_Illness&template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=7409
Grohol, J. M. (2013). Anorexia (Anorexia Nervosa) Symptoms. Retrieved April 11, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/disorders/anorexia-anorexia-nervosa-symptoms/
NHS Choices. (2012). Supporting someone with an eating disorder. Retrieved April 11, 2014, from Supporting someone with an eating disorder
Rogge, T. (2013). Anorexia nervosa. Retrieved April 10, 2014, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000362.htm
Sullivan, P. (1995). Mortality in anorexia nervosa. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 152 (7), 1073–1084.