Eating disorders are something that many people struggle with. While some people have eating disorders for a short period of time, others may suffer from them for most of their lives. Anorexia nervosa is one type of eating disorder that can be especially difficult to deal with. This article explores the symptoms and causes of anorexia nervosa along with treatment and prevention options.
Anorexia nervosa, most commonly referred to as anorexia, is a type of eating disorder where a person loses an unhealthy amount of weight. People with anorexia have an obsession with their body weight that often leads them to destructive behaviors, such as starving themselves or exercising excessively. In most cases, these individuals end up losing weight to the point where they reach a weight that is unhealthy for their age and height due to this distorted body image.
Because people with anorexia are often obsessive about eating limited food and dieting, it comes as a surprise to some people that anorexia really has little to do with food. In reality, the people with this disorder are often trying to cope with emotional stress, anger or anxiety. The way they fixate on their food intake and weight is a way for them to try to feel more in control of their life.
Anorexia is marked by the following physical signs and symptoms:
The following emotional and behavioral symptoms are also associated with anorexia:
It’s worth noting that people with anorexia may use different methods to control their weight, including starving themselves or severely limiting their food intake, exercising excessively or by misusing laxatives, enemas or diuretics. Some may even exhibit a pattern of vomiting after eating, which is often associated with another eating disorder called bulimia. Whatever method is used for weight loss, however, the physical, behavioral and emotional signs listed above are typically the same for most individuals with the disorder.
There is no one specific cause that leads a person to develop anorexia nervosa. In most cases, it is a combination of the following factors that play a role in the development of this eating disorder:
Based on research of those with the disorder, some people are more likely to develop anorexia. Those risk factors include:
There isn’t a guaranteed method for preventing anorexia nervosa. Instead, people can look for the signs and symptoms of the disorder in themselves or in others. It’s also helpful to talk to your doctor if you think that you may be at risk for the developing the disorder. If you are a parent or authority figure, it can also help to talk to younger people about the higher risk of developing the disorder at a young age, how to detect it and ways to develop a positive body image.
There are several types of treatment that are used for people with anorexia, including:
People who recover from anorexia may be tempted by the eating disorder later in life, so sometimes ongoing therapy or medication may help to prevent them from succumbing to anorexia again in the future.