What is Anorexia Nervosa? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

Some people have a fearful body image of themselves that they’re gaining weight excessively. Today, we’ll discuss what is anorexia nervosa; its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment.

What is Anorexia Nervosa? 

Anorexia nervosa is a mental health condition of an eating disorder characterized by a distorted self-image of gaining weight, being afraid of gaining weight, and losing bodyweight abnormally. People with AN disorder put an overemphasis on managing their body shape and weight and they take extreme measures that impact their lives to a great extent.

People with AN disorder limit the amount of food they eat in order to avoid weight gaining and lose weight continuously. They would minimize the intake of calories by enemas, diuretics, diet aids, misusage of laxatives, and vomiting after eating the meal. It’s possible that they would lose weight by performing excessive exercises. It doesn’t matter how much weight you’ve gained or lost, the person would fear gaining weight to a great extent.

Anorexia disorder is always about diet and food. The person would take life-threatening and unhealthy measures to deal with the emotional problem. Such people have the misguided notion that their self-worth relies on thinness.

It’s such an eating disorder that would gain control over your life and it becomes difficult for you to manage it. If you follow the right treatment, then you can get a better sense of who you are, and go back to healthier eating habits.

Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa 

Some of the main physical symptoms of anorexia nervosa disorder are as follows;

  • Vomiting frequently, decay of tooth, and bad breath
  • More hairs on the face
  • Lanugo means the fine number of down hairs on the body
  • The abnormal and irregular rhythm of the heart
  • Constipation
  • Brittle nails
  • The riskiness of fractures due to the loss density of bone
  • Insomnia
  • Infertility
  • Limited period and menstruation
  • Losing hairs
  • Swollen feet and hands
  • Dry skin
  • Upset and bloated stomach
  • Hypothermia and low temperature of your body with cold feet and hands
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Exhaustion, fatigue, and listlessness
  • Losing mass of the muscles severely

Some of the main behavioral symptoms that the person would exhibit are as follows;

  • Exhibiting symptoms of depression
  • Isolating yourself from the social interactions and friends
  • Preparing a meal for others and not eating yourself
  • Eating food in a precise order and depriving yourself of food rituals often
  • Intentionally missing the mealtime and denying your feelings of hunger
  • Feeling overweight and describing yourself as fat
  • Analyzing your body size and overweight problem frequently
  • Vomiting, taking a laxative and performing exercises excessively
  • Becoming cautious about food, calories, dieting, body size, and weight
  • Restricting your consumption of food and limiting your overall food intake

The person with AN disorder would have guilty feelings after eating the food. They won’t see the problem of not eating the food. It impacts various people differently, and they would behave differently.

Causes of Anorexia Nervosa 

Some of the main causes of anorexia nervosa disorder are as follows;

  • Racism and history of trauma
  • Pressure to adjust yourself in the cultural norms that aren’t yours
  • History of following a strict diet
  • Sexual abuse
  • Perfectionist personality that tends to become an obsession
  • Anxiety
  • Low self-esteem issues
  • Pressure from the profession and society to look slim
  • Abusive history about body shape, weight, bullying, and teasing
  • Previous experience of body shape, weight, and eating habits

Some of the main biological and genetic causes that would develop an eating disorder are as follows;

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Mental health issues and family history of depression
  • Close relationship with the person having eating disorder condition

Diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa 

The doctor would conduct a thorough physical examination and ask a series of questions relevant to your physical health, mental health, weight, and eating habits in order to have a clear idea about your condition. The doctor would also require medical tests to rule out hormonal problems, cancer, and malabsorption.

  • The National Eating Disorder Association has developed criteria for the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa disorder. Some the of main elements of the criteria are as follows;
  • Limiting the intake of energy and low body weight relevant to the person’s health, sex, and age
  • Afraid of getting fat and gaining weight regardless of having underweight
  • Denying the fact that your existing low body weight is a problem, and changing the perception of your self-image in terms of your body shape and weight

Treatment of Anorexia Nervosa 

Your doctor would develop a plan relevant to your body’s specific needs and requirements. In fact, the team of professionals would assist you to deal with psychological, social, emotional, and physical issues. The treatment plan would comprise of following strategies;

  • Hospital treatment in case of emergency
  • Supplements and multivitamins to recover the deficiency of nutrition
  • Medication to address anxiety and depression
  • Nutritional therapy comprising of information on how to build and maintain health by using a certain type of food
  • Counseling (individually or family relevant to the person’s requirements)
  • CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) allows you to change your thinking, behavior, and deal with stress

Friends and family members can play a significant role in terms of offering support. If they observe the symptoms of eating disorders, then they should encourage the treatment plan and offer moral support in order to avoid relapses during the treatment.

Hospital Treatment

The patient should remain in the hospital if one is experiencing;

  • Psychiatric emergency
  • Refusing to eat persistently
  • Complications arise because of limited intake of food
  • Malnutrition
  • Low BMI severely

The treatment would comprise of making the patient eat gradually in order to recover the health of the person.

Conclusion: What is Anorexia Nervosa? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

After an in-depth study of what is anorexia nervosa; its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment; we’ve realized that eating disorders could badly impact the person’s physical and mental health. If you observe any of the abovementioned symptoms, then refer a person to the nearest health professional.