Anorexia is an eating disorder that is psychological and is defined by a very low body weight compared to the body structure. The person affected usually has a high need for weight loss, a paralyzing fear of gaining weight and a hazy perception of their body. They have a fixed image in their head where they have a very thin figure. They have abnormal eating habits which are far apart; sometimes they even starve themselves.
Symptoms and Progression of Anorexia
While there are lots of symptoms related to this disorder, some are red flags and the person should seek treatment immediately they start showing. The patient may feel the need to follow a chronic diet even when they are extremely underweight (Ploog, 2012). They basically avoid any food that contains fat and calories. As the disorder progresses, the patient starts hiding their food or eating alone. They do not share their meals with anyone, even if they are the ones who have cooked it. As time goes by, they start growing fine hair all over their face and body. They report instances where they feel extremely cold for a while. Soon, the disorder starts affecting them psychologically and they go into depression. They avoid friends, family and other social functions and become withdrawn. They prefer being isolated by themselves to spending their time with people.
Causes of Anorexia
This disease does not just affect a person instantly, it takes time and reinforcement from multiple factors that surround us in our daily lives. The media has somehow given us the idea that the ideal person is lean and thin (Swain, 2006). Everywhere we look, from the runways and fashion shows, to the movies and soap operas, they are all filled with lean characters, or at least they are the ones who star in them. Repeated exposure to such an idea may compel one to stop eating so as to fit in the society. Many careers and professions also promote the idea of being thin and dieting. One can also be exposed to peer pressure from co-workers and friends to be slim.
There are other biological factors which include hormone functions which are irregular. Nutritional deficiencies may also be part of the cause. Some scientists argue that genetics may also be part of the cause, but this is still not as common as the previous ones.
This disorder is a very complicated one, thus needs a lot of professional and psychological treatment so as to overcome it (Ostroff, 2013). The patient also requires full support from family and friends, to ensure him or her that they will support them until the last moment. The process involves addressing three components; medical, nutritional, and therapy.
The medical component is supposed to be given the highest priority in treatment. This is where all the serious health issues are tackled. These issues are usually as a result of extended periods of malnutrition, such as an irregular heartbeat.
The nutritional part is where both the doctors and family members are involved. It is where they work out a plan for weight restoration for the patient, and ensure the diet is followed. The patient is also educated on the various nutrients contained in different foods and also the importance of normal eating patterns.
The therapy is the psychological treatment of the patient, where the doctor tries to recognize the original causes of the disorder. They usually have sessions where the doctor indulges the patient in conversation trying to figure out any traumatic life events that might have lead to that particular part. They then start the healing process and over time, the patient goes back to their normal self.
Anorexia is a very complicated disorder and the affected people should seek help immediately once they notice that they have it. It is up to family and friends to reach out to the patient and talk them into treatment. It is a disorder which takes time to affect a person, therefore it will also take time to be treated completely, so patience is key.
Ostroff, M. (2013). Anorexia nervosa: A guide to recovery. Carlsbad, CA: Gürze Books.
Ploog, D. (2012). The Psychobiology of anorexia nervosa. Berlin: Springer.
Swain, P. I. (2006). Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa: New research. New York: Nova Science.