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Anorexia, or anorexia nervosa, is a common eating disorder. It is essential to seek treatment if you are experiencing symptoms associated with anorexia. Anorexia can be incredibly dangerous and potentially life-threatening if left unchecked.

What is Anorexia?

what is anorexia
what are the symptoms of anorexia
As with all eating disorders, anorexia is technically categorized as a mental health condition. Anorexia can cause a fixation on caloric intake and weight gain in a person’s mind. To avoid gaining weight, someone suffering from anorexia may go to extreme lengths.

Anorexia can cause a person to exercise excessively or purge their food through inducing vomiting or abuse of laxatives and diet supplements. It is also possible that a person may attempt to restrict their food intake to an unhealthy level or starve themselves for as long as possible.

The dangers of anorexia come into how a person sees their body. Anorexia generally causes people to be severely underweight. However, many will think of themselves as heavier than they actually are. Someone from anorexia could be both severely underweight and continue to starve themselves to keep losing weight.

Although it is an eating disorder, anorexia affects how a person can view themselves and the ways weight factors into their idea of self-worth. No matter how much weight someone loses, they will continue to fear any amount of weight gain.

As the body is unable to receive nutrients from food needed to function properly, over time, the disorder will have an immense harmful effect on both physical and mental health.

What are the Symptoms of Anorexia?

The symptoms of anorexia can be broken down into a few different categories. There are physical symptoms of the disorder, mental and behavioral symptoms, and the long-term effects that a lack of healthy eating habits can have on the human body.

The most apparent physical symptom that should be noticed is the drastic weight loss and thin appearance. While it may be gradual at first, it will be evident that someone from anorexia is underweight and likely unhealthy over time. A lack of food will cause someone to feel fatigued and restless. They may also experience physical pain in their stomach.

Eating disorders are generally apparent in the behavior of the person. They will likely be incredibly uncomfortable eating around other people and will make excuses not to eat around others or skip meals. Eating disorders also cause a fixation on food and caloric intake that will show itself as a person continuing to talk about food or calories despite not eating.

These behavioral symptoms often cause someone suffering from anorexia to withdraw from social situations. Rather than hide their disorder and make excuses, it becomes easier to isolate themselves to avoid confrontation. It can also cause them to feel depressed or irritable regularly. 

Over time, the body begins to break down from a lack of nutrients and healthy eating habits. A person’s skin will become dry and develop a yellow tint. Fingernails and hair will become thin and brittle and break easily or fall out. If they purge themselves by inducing vomiting, they will experience pain in their throat, stained fingers or hands, and eroded teeth.

What Causes Anorexia?

The exact cause of anorexia is unknown. As with most mental health conditions, it is most likely a combination of environmental, biological, and psychological factors. While anyone can develop anorexia, it is most common among women. 

Teenagers are also more likely to see symptoms compared to older adults. Teenagers are possibly more at risk because of the changes their body is already experiencing during puberty. They are also more likely to feel peer or societal pressure to lose weight. 

The pressure caused by media or peers is a significant factor in the development of eating disorders. Western media has stigmatized weight, equating thin as more beautiful or of higher worth. This has an immensely negative impact on a person’s self-esteem and their idea of a healthy body image. It can also cause bullying, most commonly in adolescents. Of all people who suffer from eating disorders, 60% cite bullying as a reason.

Having a close relative with an eating disorder is a significant risk factor in developing one yourself. However, there is some question on if that is due to genetics or learned behavior. Other mental health conditions, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder or an anxiety disorder, can also lead to the development of an eating disorder.

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How to Treat Anorexia?

While anorexia may not have a cure, it is considered to be a treatable disorder. The longer someone goes without seeking treatment, the worse the symptoms will get. It is crucial to seek professional help if you think you might be experiencing symptoms associated with anorexia or another eating disorder.

There is no medication specifically designed to treat anorexia. However, medication can be used to treat specific symptoms or underlying issues. If depression or anxiety played a role in developing the disorder, a doctor might prescribe antidepressants to help. Medication is one aspect of a broader treatment plan.

Psychotherapy options, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, can be useful tools in the treatment of anorexia. Cognitive behavioral therapy works to reframe negative thoughts to promote healthier behavior in the future. For eating disorders, nutrition counseling may also be used to help develop a healthier relationship with food and weight and restore regular eating habits.

Anorexia nervosa is a treatable mental health disorder, but the longer a person suffers without seeking treatment, the worse it will become. If you or a loved one suffer from anorexia, you should seek the help of medical professionals. At Warner Park, we are here to help you find the best treatment possible. Reach out to us at 866-623-6905 to learn more about potential treatment options.

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