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Friday, February 22, 2019

Anorexia Nervosa: What You Need To Know

Author: Joy Ebhote, RN

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is a medical condition that is characterized majorly by extreme fear of weight gain.

According to Wikipedia, it is often referred to simply as anorexia; an eating disorder characterized by low weight, fear of gaining weight, and a strong desire to be thin, resulting in food restriction.

Anorexia isn't really about food. It's an extremely unhealthy and sometimes life-threatening way to try to cope with emotional problems. 

People with anorexia often equate thinness with self-worth.

Anorexia Nervosa

Individuals with this conditions tend to eat lesser than required because they fear that they are overweight when in actuality they are underweight and may become cachectic if not properly treated.

Although it's not yet clear which genes are involved, there may be genetic changes that make some people at higher risk of developing anorexia.

For example, some genetic components have been associated with identical twins affected more that non-identical twins.

Individuals with OCD (Obsessive Compulsory Disorder) personality traits find it easier to stick to strict diets and forgo food despite being hungry. They may have an extreme drive for perfectionism, which causes them to think they're never thin enough.

High levels of anxiety may also cause them to not restrict eating in order to help reduce it. Peer pressure and social status most times attach being thin to success, therefore in the drive to fit into social standards, anorexia could be an end result.

Anorexia Nervosa

Physical Symptoms of anorexia nervosa include;

  • Extreme weight loss or not making expected developmental weight gains.
  • Thin appearance
  • Abnormal blood counts
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Hair that thins, breaks or falls out, 
  • Amenorrhea
  • Constipation and abdominal pain
  • Low blood pressure, 
  • Dehydration, etc. 

Treatment of anorexia basically revolves around trying to enhance weight gain. Although there are no medications available for treatment, but drugs used to treat underlying depression, anxiety or other causes could serve as a major breakthrough point for management.

Psychotherapy, either family or individual could also help in management as individuals will require great help in choice making on diet and eating patterns.

Management of presenting signs and symptoms, such as low blood pressure, constant and vivid monitoring of vital signs, dizziness, etc. is also key to help clients improve.


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