One of the most addictive thoughts is worrying about your body image. Many people are obsessed with losing weight and when this obsession becomes addictive to the point of phobia, it’s called anorexia nervosa.
The main problem is the standard of an unrealistic body image. This leads to excessive dieting & exercising to maintain a low calorie uptake.
This eating disorder can affect any gender though, a lot of the affected patients are primarily female. This is due to the immense pressure on women to look thin and beautiful.
The primary reason this eating disorder is common is because it’s actually a coping mechanism to deal with life’s problems. Its addictive nature can take over the patient’s life and make it very difficult to quit thinking about weight loss. But there are treatments which help you develop better coping mechanisms and live a normal life.
SYMPTOMS OF ANOREXIA NERVOSA
- Excessive exercise
- Obsession with counting calories
- Irregular periods
- Low blood pressure
- Dry, cracked skin
- Fainting frequently
- Mood swings and irritability
- Feeling isolated from others
- Denying yourself food even when you’re starving
- Using diet pills & laxatives to maintain an ideal body weight.
CAUSES OF ANOREXIA NERVOSA
The exact cause of anorexia nervosa is not known but the following factors contribute to it –
- There is some evidence to the fact that genetic changes may lead to anorexia nervosa.
- People who have obsessive-compulsive tendencies follow strict diets and deny themselves food in trying to maintain a perfect body.
- Pressure to look thin and be perfect to fit in with society is immense. This creates a desire to be thin and rely on external sources to feel validated.
DIAGNOSIS OF ANOREXIA NERVOSA
A psychologist will conduct a psychological exam to test whether you are having thoughts, eating habits and feelings that indicate that you are anorexic.
A physical examination will also be conducted to determine whether there are any medical conditions that may be causing similar symptoms.
They will look for any sign that show –
- You’re denying yourself food.
- You have an unnatural fear of gaining weight.
- You have body image issues.
TREATMENT OF ANOREXIA NERVOSA
The first thing in the treatment of anorexia is to accept that you need treatment. The goal is to make sure that you learn to cope with your emotions well and that you develop good eating habits.
The best treatment for anorexia is therapy and a balanced diet.
There are different kinds of therapy –
- Cognitive behavioural therapy – It helps you change unhealthy thought patterns & behavior. It helps you build and boost self-esteem.
- Family therapy – It takes help from family members of the patients to create a support system
- Group therapy – It helps anorexic people get peer support from other people who are suffering from the same disease in supervision of a mental health professional.
Hospital treatment may be required if the patient is severely malnourished & dehydrated. To treat psychiatric issues, some clinics offer specialized programs to treat eating disorders.