Anorexia Nervosa, which is usually referred to as simply “Anorexia”, is a disease of the mind that has effects on the entire body. It is categorized as an eating disorder, and can sometimes come in tandem with Bulemia. Anorexia occurs when somebody becomes so obsessed with their body weight that they must be continually starving themselves and taking other drastic measures (such as taking diet medications) to lose weight, usually resulting in the patient becoming dangerously underweight. Often, someone who is Anorexic will also purge themselves after they “give in” to food, meaning that they will attempt to vomit any food or drink they have just consumed so as not to absorb the calories. If the Anorexic person does this fairly regularly, they would likely also be diagnosed as Bulemic.
The symptoms of Anorexia can be difficult to detect in the beginning. The sufferer may actually begin the dangerous cycle as being somewhat overweight. Peer pressure to be thin may lead to the sufferer to become ashamed of their body. Often, this leads to clinical depression, which is frequently diagnosed in addition to Anorexia. The sufferer then begins to rapidly lose weight due to unhealthy and extreme dieting measures such as eating far too few calories and obsessively exercising for hours everyday. Even when the Anorexic person becomes thin, and then frighteningly thin, they see themselves in the mirror as fat and disgusting. Their mind has essentially turned against them and is making them see and believe things that are not true.
It has recently be discovered that Anorexia Nervosa may be an inheritable condition. Therefore if a parent suffered from the illness, especially during their teen years, they should be on the lookout for symptoms in their own children, especially during their formative and teenage years. Anorexia is much easier to treat when discovered early on, but can often be mistaken for mere healthy weightless or normal body anxiety. Parents should always talk to their children, however, as soon as they notice even some of these behaviors and symptoms so the illness does not grow in the dark. There is treatment, even in the early stages of the disorder.
The treatment for Anorexia is primarily physiological in nature. However, despite the ailment occurring in the mind, the extreme effects it can have on the sufferer’s physical health must also be attended to. They may need to be hospitalized because if the danger of a heart attack, which often kills those with extreme Anorexia. If the illness is caught early enough though, it can be treated entirely by a qualified therapist as long as someone who lives with the patient can be responsible for the the patient’s nutritional needs. As long as the patient is recovering from their malnourishment, their therapist can begin to help their mind recover from the disorder.
Sadly, just like a formerly depressed person can relapse into depression, someone who has dealt with Anorexia in the past may revert back to it in times of distress in their lives. Family and friends of a former Anorexic person should be on the lookout for sudden drops in body weight, hair loss, rotting teeth, and an increase in self-critical speech. These are symptoms that may reoccur fairly early on in a relapse. It a family member notices these symptoms reoccurring they should increase therapy sessions and begin to monitor the sufferer’s nutritional needs once again.