Eating Disorder happens when a person experiences continuous disturbances of eating or eating related behaviours that cause changes in the consumption of food. This disorder has major effects on a person’s physical and psychological functioning. The person experience lack of control over their impulses. Other difficulties include faced by individuals is control over their eating, dieting or elimination of food.
Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder in which a person is unable to maintain normal weight and have an intense fear of gaining weight and have distorted body image. Three basic symptoms shown by the person involves restricted eating, unrealistic fear of getting fat and disturbed self-perception of body shape. The person has abnormally low body weight. They feel that they are overweight even though they are seriously underweight. The depletion of nutrients that occur because of anorexia leads to a lot of health changes some of them can be life-threatening. Starting from the brain, they cannot think right, there are changes in their brain chemistry and they have bad and fainting memory. Their hair gets thin and brittle. Have low blood pressure and slow heart rate and can also face heart failure. They also face anaemia and other blood problems like low potassium, magnesium and sodium in the blood. Weak and swollen joints and more prone to fractures. May face kidney stones and kidney failure. Constipation and bloating, menstruation stop, bone loss and women face problems in getting pregnant and there are higher risks of miscarriage. Skin gets bruises easily and gets dry. Hair all over the body, skin gets pale and nails get brittle.
There are two types of anorexia, the “restricting” type involves that they get engage in restricting calories. The other is “Purging” type in which they lose weight by vomiting. People who have anorexia experience a core disturbance in their body image. In one study it was shown that women suffering from anorexia showed distinct arousal patterns in area of the brain involve in processing emotions. Women with the restricted form appears not to value thinness so much as they are repelled by the idea of being overweight. The lifetime prevalence in women is 0.9 percent and 0.3 in men. The majority of individuals who develop it are in their early 20’s. Men have 25 per cent lower lifetime prevalence than women.
Many people get confused between Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa which is another type of eating disorder. In Bulimia, a person engages in binge eating during which they eat an excessive amount of food during a short period. In order to avoid weight gaining, they involve in purging which causes different physical and psychological issues.
The exact cause of anorexia is unknown. The conditions may run in families. From a biological point of view, the researchers are interested in the role of dopamine which plays a role in the feeling of pleasure including those which are related to eating. The abnormal processing of emotions in people may be related to other genes that are related to depressive mood. There are environmental or social factors such as constantly comparing their bodies to others and never getting satisfied with one own self and hormonal changes. The messages from social media and the fashion industry that thin is beautiful. Other factors are physical or sexual abuse or being bullied.
There are two types of symptoms Physical and Psychological.
The Psychological Symptoms are as follows:
- Refusing to eat
- Not eating in front of others
- Feeling sad and anxious
- Low self-esteem
- Lying about eating
- Fixation on body image
- Denying that they are underweight
- Using diet pills and purging
- Lack of emotions
- Reduce sex drive
- Memory loss
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Trouble in relationships
The Physical Symptoms are as follows:
- Loss and thinning of hair
- Pale and dry skin
- Feeling cold all the time
- Tremendous weight loss
- Loss of periods in women
- Loss of muscle mass
- Low blood pressure and heart rate
- Swollen hands and legs
- Brittle nails
- Bad breath and tooth decay
Early diagnosis and proper treatment help the person to fight this disorder. They should show the following symptoms for the treatment of Anorexia Nervosa. The physicians detect signs of anorexia they should also test for diabetes, chronic infections, malabsorption, cancer etc. and blood test and image scans. People with anorexia also have mood disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder and social phobia.
According to the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA’s) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition (DSM-5), the diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa are as follows:
- Restriction of energy intake relative to requirements leading to a significantly low body weight in the context of age, sex, developmental trajectory, and physical health.
- Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though underweight.
- Disturbance in the way in which one’s body weight or shape is experienced, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation, or denial of the seriousness of the current low body weight.
The primary aim of treatment involves identifying and changing the individual’s maladaptive assumptions that occur regarding their body shape and weight.
In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, clinicians attempt to change what are selective biases people regarding eating disorder that lead them to focus on the parts of bodies they dislike. By using Exposure Therapy in which clients view their bodies in the mirror in an attempt to reduce negative emotions that they experience. They teach them mindfulness techniques to reduce negative cognitions and affect their bodies by giving them psychoeducation about the ways that their beliefs reinforce their negative body image. In the sociocultural perspective, clinicians use family components for clients. Parents take the whole charge of their eating and weight. It can also involve family therapy and nutrition counselling to help the client to regain healthy eating habits.
There is no specific medication for this disorder. They can be given medication to control anxiety, depression and OCD. SSRIs such serotonin and olanzapine can be given when their weight is 95 percent of normal of their height and age. Hospitalization may also be needed if there is severe weight loss and the client refuses to eat.
May researchers believed that it not a disorder which cannot be treated. The person can live a normal and healthy life by not being judgmental of other people and being kind and respectful. They should meet people who can help them and should take treatment from professionals. They should have high self-esteem and should believe that they are getting better day by day.