Anorexia symptoms could be tricky to spot because anorexic people could be very secretive.
Anorexia is a condition that is affecting a majority of our population. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not only young girls that are affected, but men and women of mature age as well. With anorexia, you not only need to deal with the physical symptoms, but also those going on in their heads too. For most part, it is a psychological condition. The physiological anorexia symptoms manifested are just results of what they do to their body to compensate for what they think is wrong. Anorexia has the highest death rate among all other mental illnesses. Know what it is and what to look out for. You might just save a life along the way.
What is Anorexia?
The proper name for anorexia would be anorexia nervosa. However, most people just call it anorexia. It is a psychological condition that makes people starve themselves in a quest to be what they perceive as beautiful. The onset of anorexia is usually during puberty where most teenagers are very self-conscious, but there have been cases of adult-onset anorexia. It is extremely rare though.
Anorexia is an out-of-control obsession over gaining weight. Some even go to such extremes as eating paper to gain the least amount of pounds. The opposite of anorexia is bigarexia, wherein the person seems to think that they are too small, thus consuming unhealthy amounts of food to become bigger.
Causes of anorexia may be genetic, as what most experts have claimed. Others have pointed their fingers at the social media, wherein thin people are proclaimed as beautiful. A psychological need for control is another factor that may cause the onset of anorexia.
Anorexics are very hard to deal with since you will be going against what they believe in. Spotting anorexia symptoms early would greatly help in preventing things from getting worse. They would be able to get the treatment that they need as soon as possible.
The mortality rate of anorexia is very high, thus the significance of this article.
Doctors do not usually use laboratory tests to diagnose anorexia. These tests are only applicable in diagnosing the resulting problems from this mental condition, like ulcers. In diagnosing anorexia nervosa itself, doctors rely on the four criteria found in the DSM-IV. This is the method usually used to diagnose psychological conditions.
- Refusal to maintain normal body weight appropriate for age, gender and body type.
- Fear of gaining weight.
- Distorted self-perception.
- Missing three consecutive menstrual cycles, with a negative pregnancy test.
There are two types of anorexics: the binging and purging anorexics and the restrictive anorexics.
What are Common Anorexia Symptoms?
As mentioned earlier, anorexia symptoms may be very hard to spot. Anorexics know that what they are doing is wrong, but they cannot help themselves. That is the only option that they could think of that would prevent them from gaining any weight. Outlined below would be common anorexia symptoms that we all should watch out for. They are divided into two: psychological and physiological.
- Weight obsession – specifically gaining weight. They constantly complain that they are fat, when they actually already look emaciated.
- Food obsession – counting calories to an extent that what they consume is less than what their body type typically requires.
- Depression – this could be considered as a sign of anorexia, but is not very conclusive. Depression, as related to anorexia, might be due to the fact that they think they are too fat to be accepted by society.
- Control issues – they might feel a loss of control with the other aspects of their lives, thus they focus their control on their weight and what they eat.
- Amenorrhea – or loss of menstrual period, due to too little nutrients in the body.
- Damaged teeth – due to provoked vomiting. Also called purging. Also due to constant contact with hydrochloric acid from too much vomiting.
- Calluses on finger/fingers – some anorexics would purge after eating. Some of them would stick their fingers down their throat (See: Throat cancer symptoms), thus causing callus formation.
- Eating too little or not eating at all – typical of restrictive anorexics.
- Dry skin
- Brittle hair
- Not eating in public
- Obvious weight loss
Treatment for Anorexia
Persons exhibiting anorexia symptoms would require a couple of different treatments. One would be for their physical symptoms. The other would be for psychological reconditioning. These two are obviously interrelated.
The goal of physical treatment would be to get the patient’s weight back up to normal level and correct malnutrition. The safest way to gain weight would be a pound or two per week. The patient would be closely monitored to see is they are vomiting the food they just ate, or secretly taking laxatives or diuretics. Their physical activity would be decreased, and would be more focused on social interactions.
With psychological therapy, the patient would be assisted in confronting their fear of gaining weight. They would, little by little, look into what’s causing that person’s obsession with weight loss. Slowly, they would discover why anorexia is a destructive condition, and would hopefully overcome it along the way.
People with anorexia symptoms do not respond to the line, “You are too thin.” For them, nobody could ever be too thin. The best way to help them would be to lend your unwavering support. People around them should watch what they say, because when the wrong words are uttered, they could easily relapse to their old habits. And this time, it would be even harder to spot since they already know what things to hide.