Understanding Anorexia Nervosa



Do you constantly feel that you are overweight when you are not? Have you always had health, body, and self-image issues? Be careful because you might be suffering from anorexia nervosa!

What is Anorexia Nervosa?

Along with bulimia, anorexia nervosa is one of the most common psychological disorders in the United States today. Many young females, ranging from age 10-25 are commonly hospitalized and treated for this disease. Anorexia nervosa is an illness in which a person refuses to eat, and exercises vigorously, in order not to get fat. Anorexics suffer from a distorted view of body image, and commonly think that he or she is too fat, and must “diet” in order to get thinner.

Paradoxically though, anorexics often have a preoccupation with food, and may know a lot of facts about food and cooking. Some anorexics even love preparing food for their families and loved ones, though they rarely touch the food themselves. They even have rituals in eating that discourage them to eat properly. Some have awkward eating positions, put too many condiments on their food, and drink water to fill them up. Another important behavioral characteristic of anorexics is they spend inordinate amounts of time in looking at themselves, and commenting at their “fat” bodies. They engage in so much exercise; in fact, they dedicate a lot of time in exercising, that they engage in very strenuous movements.

Its Effects on Health

Anorexics face a host of related health conditions in relation to their illness. They typically grow lanugo, or soft downy hair in their skin, in response to their much lower consumption of food. Lanugo preserves body heat, and energy. Anorexics also become emaciated, and may suffer from malnutrition as a result. Often, anorexics are also bulimics, complicating their treatment. Together with bulimia, these illnesses are the leading causes of death due to a mental disorder.

Treatment for Anorexia Nervosa

Treatment for anorexics is varied. Normally, they are subjected to a continuous re-feeding program, in order to provide them with necessary nutrients, and not shock their bodies accustomed to consuming so little food. They are also given anti-depressants, and are subjected to therapy to unearth the causes of their illness. For family and friends, it is essential to engender an atmosphere of affirmation and compassion for anorexics, in order for them to recover. More on that in my article.