With anorexia, the disorder often causes people to lose more weight than they should in order to stay healthy. Each person has a specific healthy weight range that matches their height; however, when people have an extreme fear of gaining weight regardless of whether or not it is warranted, it may cause them overcompensate with dangerous activities that include many of the symptoms of anorexia nervosa.
While there is no specific cause of anorexia nervosa, it is important to remember that a person who suffers from it might not recognize the reality of their body. For example, if they are underweight, they still could think they need to lose weight and begin excessively dieting or exercising. Social pressures that prefer thin figures are possible factors, along with genes and hormones.
According to the National Institutes of Health, risk factors associated with anorexia nervosa are:
Normally, anorexia starts during the teenage years when people are more aware of their body and how it is changing. It is most often observed in Caucasian women with high academic pursuits who have a personality or family that is focused on achieving significant goals. Although less common, anorexia can also be a problem with males who have the same risk factors.
There are four main symptoms of anorexia nervosa; in order for a person to be diagnosed with it, they must have:
Various methods will accompany anorexia as the person attempts to accomplish a fabricated notion of their “ideal” body weight, including an extreme reduction or deprivation of food eaten, or throwing up after a meal via force vomiting. Other tactics are:
Physicians or health professionals might use a variety of techniques when testing for anorexia, such as: blood protein globulin or albumin, thyroid function tests, electrolytes, liver function tests, bone density test, kidney function tests, cell count for blood or hemoglobin, electrocardiograms, urine sampling, and/or kidney function tests. Any of these procedures, either alone or a combination of them, is an effective way to measure the extent of anorexia nervosa in a patient.
Research indicates that 0.6 percent of the United States population has reported anorexia nervosa as an illness. Only 33.8 percent who have it are receiving treatment, which means that most people suffering from the disorder are not getting help. Ages of onset will vary, but according to studies, 19 years old is the average for anorexia.
What makes anorexia nervosa so frustrating is that people who have it are often unaware that it is dangerous, and they may deny any problems associated with their eating habits, behavior or weight loss. Unfortunately, too many people wait until a situation gets out of control and then try to enter some form of treatment facility. There are many goals related to successful recovery from anorexia, like restoring the normal body weight in a safe way (approximately 1 to 3 pounds per week) and helping the patient return to healthy eating habits.
Quality programs are used in regaining weight, and a patient might increase their social activity while decreasing physical work or exercise, as well as adhere to an eating schedule. In many instances, a short hospital stay will work when accompanied by day treatment programs. Not all patients who have anorexia are released from the hospital so quickly, and if someone is below 70 percent of their ideal weight, a longer stay might be necessary.
Long hospital stays are also an option for those who continue to lose weight while receiving treatment, or if they experience heart problems, low potassium levels or confusion. Some patients are required to stay in a hospital if they have severe depression or thoughts of suicide. A comprehensive treatment program will help the patient change how they look at eating in a safe atmosphere that includes talk therapy and family counseling without underestimating how much work a successful recovery entails.
Young patients will receive therapy that includes family so their families are part of every solution while they encourage a healthier eating schedule. Changing the thoughts or behaviors associated with eating is usually more successful when treating young patients as well. Group therapies that involve families or supporters can work for all ages.
Prescription medication is only considered as part of a complete treatment plan to help anorexic patients move past whichever symptom(s) are interfering with recovery. These medications may also relieve depression or anxiety and might include antidepressants or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), antipsychotics, olanzapine (Zyprexa, Zydis), or other types of mood stabilizers, according to what each individual situation needs.
We specialize in addressing the underlying cause of anorexia with a comprehensive treatment program, utilizing staff members who have extensive knowledge and expertise in the area. We also have the unique ability to treat eating disorders that are complicated with drug abuse or addiction issues. Now is the time to get help and start recovering, so if you or someone you know has been suffering from anorexia, contact us today. We look forward to beginning a very important healing process with you.
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