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Anorexia nervosa

There are many people in this world who are highly conscious about how they look. Especially in case of girls or women, their appearance matters a lot.

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For some people, their self-confidence depends on how people judge them by their looks, rather than their inner self. This leads to a lot of stress on their person to look thin and beautiful. They are rather obsessed with their weight and feel as if they are fatter than acceptable. This leads to a mental illness called as anorexia nervosa. In this condition, the person forces themselves to lose weight, which in the first place was never a problem.

Overview of Anorexia nervosa

Everybody likes to be thin. But when being thin becomes an obsession, it is a sign there is a problem. It develops into an eating disorder and leads to a life threatening situation. Men and women who develop this disorder cannot see through clearly and always think of themselves as overweight.

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Anorexia nervosa is a condition where the patient refuses to eat well and maintain the normal body weight according to their height and age. These patients have a morbid fear of gaining weight or often imagine a distorted body image of themselves.

This causes them to deliberately lose weight, thus, restricting their food intake. They never allow themselves to feel full after having a meal. So, they either under eat or over exercise. This makes them underweight and malnourished.

This condition affects at least 1 teenager in 20. It can be a lifelong problem and leads to many health complications. These include osteoporosis, damaged kidneys and heart disorders.

Symptoms of Anorexia nervosa

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The main symptom of anorexia nervosa is inability to maintain normal weight. They will follow strict diet regimes and restrict the amount of food they eat.

Some of the other symptoms include:

  • Excessive exercising
  • Extremely thin
  • Fatigue
  • Thinning of hair
  • Girls suffer for irregular menstruation
  • Dry skin
  • Constipation
  • Osteoporosis
  • Swelling of arms and legs
  • Obsession over calories, fats, etc. in food
  • Lying about eating food or finishing their lunch
  • These people they are fat, even though they are extremely thin
  • Spend more time in front of a mirror
  • Deny being too thin
  • Use diet pills or diuretics in order to lose their so-called excessive weight

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It is important to seek medical help when one finds someone or themselves spending many hours obsessing about the food to eat. When one exercises to the point of exhaustion, medical help is a must. Changes in behavior, irritation, moodiness, or hopelessness is a sign one is suffering from some problem and needs help.

Causes of Anorexia nervosa

The exact reason why some people develop anorexia nervosa is unknown. These people have a very low self-esteem and staying thin is the only way to gain confidence.

People who develop anorexia often suffer from depression, anxiety and substance abuse. In some cases, they suffer from an obsessive - compulsive disorder that makes them follow a strict diet regime. At times, peer pressure builds up the pressure to remain thin and win more friends.

In some cases, it has been found to be a genetic, that predisposes certain individual to develop this eating disorder.

Diagnosis of Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is suspected in people who are extremely thin. They are examined to find the real cause of their extreme weight loss. The doctor may advise certain tests and examinations to be conducted.

These include:

  • Physical examination of height, weight, skin, nails, blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and other vital signs.
  • Blood tests that include complete blood count, Western Blot analysis, Secritin-CCK test, glucose tolerance test, BUN test, liver function test, etc.
  • The patient is evaluated through psychological tests based on the criteria set by DSM-IV.

Treatment for Anorexia nervosa

There is no specific treatment or anorexia. The patient has to first overcome the denial mode and agree about having an eating disorder. The aim of the treatment involved is to reach the healthy body weight of the patient by making him/her eat more food and feel good about themselves and their bodies.

Medical treatment involves overcoming the deficiencies and malnourished state of the body. Next comes, following a healthy diet that includes calories, fats, proteins, etc. that are essential for a healthy body weight. Last but not the least, is counseling and therapy. The patient needs to overcome all the negative feelings they have about themselves. They should build their self-confidence and learn to deal with their emotions, relationship problems and stress.

Anorexia nervosa can turn into a life threatening condition if not treated soon. One should be aware of the changes in their loved ones and help them seek help soon. Anorexia can be treated with proper medical help.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: December 11, 2014

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