Anorexia nervosa is psychological condition wherein a person fears to suffer from a distorted appearance and gain weight. It affects people of all ages. Having this eating disorder puts the patient’s life at risk. It results in having a very low body weight compared to what is required from one’s body type and height. Aside from evaluating the body mass index of patients who are suspected of suffering from anorexia nervosa, their exercise and eating patterns are also observed to assess the severity of their condition.
Anorexia nervosa is not to be interchanged with the other medical term anorexia. The latter refers to a person who lacks appetite and who is eager to starve oneself. Meanwhile a patient with anorexia nervosa is fixated with having a thin figure. This is because they think they are heavier than they actually are. Living in a world where people are full of judgments and unsolicited calls, the cases of people with this psychological condition continues to increase as the day pass by. In order to effectively address this situation, it is important to know the different aspects of anorexia nervosa. We will cover its major types, causes, symptoms, and others.
Anorexia Nervosa Types
When asking for medical assistance on this condition, one of the first things that medical experts do is assess the type of condition a patient is suffering from. The first type, known as purge/binge type, is characterized by a patient exhibiting a purge behavior. With the fear of gaining weight, the patient will often binge eat. Then, to compensate for the quantity of food that he has eaten, he will purge. Purging can be done in different forms such as laxative abuse, forced vomiting as well as excessive exercising.
The second type of anorexia nervosa is the restrictive type. A patient with this condition is commonly highly self-disciplined as he is capable of applying restrictions to his diet. It can be by limiting the calorie count, staying out of fatty or sugary food or restricting the quantity of one’s intake.
Common Causes of Anorexia Nervosa
As it is a psychological condition, personality traits, genetic predisposition as well as environmental factors are the common causes of anorexia nervosa. Those who are diagnosed to have the genetic predisposition to this medical condition should observe any signs such as irregular hormone functions. This could trigger them to suffer from anorexia nervosa. One of the environmental factors that can contribute to this condition is the stereotype that the beauty of a person is based on one’s body size. Another environmental factor is the culture that some professions create wherein weight loss and thinness are needed to pursue careers in some fields such as modeling and ballet. Aside from these, childhood trauma, sexual abuse and peer pressure can also affect one’s interest in severely losing weight.
Anorexia Nervosa Symptoms
To diagnose patients who are suffering from anorexia nervosa, a thorough assessment of their behavior is necessary to clearly identify the symptoms. Among the symptoms of this condition is chronically dieting or limiting eating as to what is needed by the body as well as a severe obsession with food fat contents and calorie counts. Also, those with depression and exhibiting hair loss or thinning matched with having a ritualistic pattern when it comes to eating should also be watched out for this condition. Other signs that could indicate that a person is suffering from this eating disorder are isolation, having cold sensation, amenorrhea and rapid weight loss.
Treatments Available for Anorexia Nervosa Patients
To avoid any life-threatening effects of anorexia nervosa, there are several forms of treatments that are to be recommended to patients. Saving anorexia nervosa patients should start with immediately addressing serious medical concerns such as imbalance in one’s electrolytes, unstable heart functioning, amenorrhea as well as malnutrition. Secondly, medical professionals are advised to improve the nutrition received by the patient. This treatment extensively includes ways to restore one’s weight. It could be by customizing a specific meal plan or constantly monitoring the eating patterns of the patient. Lastly, a patient is highly advised to undergo sessions and consultations with a psychiatrist as it could be caused by environmental factors such as traumatic events. Therapies will be focused on letting go of fears, improving one’s coping skills and boosting the ability to express emotions.
Anorexia Nervosa Statistics
General statistics indicate that a minimum of 30 million Americans suffers from this eating disorder. As it is one of the conditions posing threats across the country, statistics show that at least one patient dies from having anorexia nervosa for every 62 minutes. In addition, reports also show that one in five anorexia patients died due to suicide. Comorbid disorders are also found among patients with this disorder. Among these are mood disorders, depression, anxiety, social phobia as well as obsessive-compulsiveness.
Dietary Recommendations for Anorexia Nervosa Patients
Restoring the nutritional health of patients is the top priority to help them recover from this disorder. In order to successfully treat them, it is essential to prevent them from having the life-threatening refeeding syndrome. This syndrome happens when a patient in a state of starvation was rapidly refed. This is fatal as the immediate fluid and electrolyte changes could trigger sudden metabolic abnormalities.
The question now is how to safely reintroduce patients to a healthy eating pattern. One way is for medical professionals to closely monitor the patient’s potassium, thiamin, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus levels during the first five days in the recovery program. Other areas that should be observed are the cardiac rhythm, plasma glucose, urinary electrolytes, and other vital functions while refeeding.
The number of calorie intake per day is also crucial to the safety of patients with this eating disorder. Calorie count should start to around 2,000 to 2,500 in the first days. It should then be increased incrementally to 3,000 to 5,000 calories on a daily basis. Patients are also discouraged to be involved in any form of exercise especially during the initial days of being rehabilitated. This could pose a threat to their health.