Anorexia Nervosa

Eating disorders are more and more frequent. Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by significant and potentially health-affecting weight loss. People with anorexia voluntarily refuse to eat because they are continually concerned about their weight. Their perception of themselves is distorted: even though they are underweight, they still see themselves as overweight. Anorexia usually appears during the last years of adolescence or the first years of adulthood (average age is 14 years). In Caucasian middle or upper class families, 0.5% of female adolescents battle this disease. Among ten people with the disease, there will be 9 women and only 1 man.

Symptoms

Usually, people with anorexia:

  • are perfectionist
  • are radical
  • are intelligent
  • are successful
  • have low self-esteem
  • have poor interpersonal relationships

It is also important to distinguish between dieting and anorexia. People who diet usually have goals or a specific weight they wish to reach. On the other hand, people with anorexia have a very particular relationship with food. In addition, they can induce vomiting or use laxatives. Here are questions that can help you determine if someone suffers from anorexia nervosa.

Does the person suffer from insomnia?YesNo
Is the person continuously cold?YesNo
Is the person either tired or hyperactive?YesNo
Does the person suffer from memory loss?YesNo
Has the person (woman) missed her period for more than 3 months?YesNo

If you answered yes to several of these questions, and especially question no.5, the person may well need help.

Treatment

Once anorexia nervosa has been diagnosed, the patient usually starts psychotherapy. Hospitalization is often required to allow closer monitoring. Once hospitalized, patients are usually treated both by a psychiatrist and a dietician to help them regain weight and normal eating patterns. Patience and support are warranted while the patient is healing as the process is extremely difficult. Most patients will recover completely but some may need long-term care. The biggest hurdle with anorexia nervosa is the fact that many patient are not aware of their condition and sometimes refuse all help.

For more information :

Canadian Mental Health Association

www.cmha.ca

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