According to a recent article in The National Institute of Mental Health, more females than males suffer from anorexia nervosa. Overall, 2.7% of the population suffers from anorexia, and the onset most often occurs between the ages of 13 and 19.
According to Nutrition.org, eating disorders are on the rise with nearly 24 people in the U.S. suffering from eating disorders in the U.S. (as of February 2021).
Anorexia or anorexia nervosa is characterized by very low body weight and a fear of gaining weight. Those suffering from anorexia see themselves as being overweight and have a distorted view of their body. They are often individuals that feel like they need to control their weight.
Signs and Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa:
The signs of anorexia can be quite clear as someone may look as if they are starving. At first, the signs may be hard to detect, as many people just have low body weight as everyone is different. But as time goes on the physical signs and symptoms become obvious.
According to Mayo Clinic, here are some of the signs and symptoms:
- Extreme weight loss
- Very thin appearance
- Dizziness and fainting
- Discoloration in the fingers, they often turn bluish
- Thinning hair
- Soft hair covering the body
- Discontinuation of menstruation
- Constipation and abdominal pain
- Yellowish hue to skin
- Inability to handle cold temperatures
- Irregular heartbeat
- Low blood pressure
- Swelling of extremities
- Dental problems
- Binging and purging
In addition to these physical symptoms, there are emotional/behavioral issues as well:
- Restricting food intake and fasting
- Increased exercising
- Binging and vomiting
- Use of laxatives, enemas, diet drugs, diuretics, etc.
- Preoccupation with food, such as making big meals and not eating
- Skipping meals
- Denial of hunger and creating reasons why not to eat
- Eating only low calorie or “safe” foods
- Developing rituals like chewing food then s pitting it out
- Not eating in public
- Lying about food consumption
- Frequently checking mirrors for appearance
- Complaining about being fat
- Adding layers of clothes.
- Withdrawing socially
- No/reduced interest in sex
Testing for Anorexia Nervosa:
Those seeking treatment for anorexia need to treat both physical and psychological issues. According to WebMD, those suffering from anorexia should seek treatment that include:
- Continuous medical care
- Therapy sessions
- Nutritional counseling
- Medication, such as antidepressants
- Medical tests that show bone loss, electrolyte levels, blood evaluation, heart function
Treatment Modalities for Anorexia Nervosa:
There are many different options available for those that suffer from anorexia. In the most extreme cases, those with severely deficient body weight may need long-term treatment, or in-house treatment in a medical facility so their food intake can be monitored.
Our anorexia nervosa treatment center and others across the country have a full staff that is trained to help the anorexic deal with both the physical, mental and emotional turmoil that affects those with anorexia.
In the most severe cases, an anorexic person may have life-threatening issues and are starving themselves to death. While many effective treatments have been developed, many people relapse. An article in Psychological Medicine found that of the 51 women that regained weight after an in-hospital treatment program, 35% relapsed. Therefore, it is critical that even those that have received treatment and improved, should continue treatment long after recovery.