Eating Disorders, Anorexia Nervosa – SIGNS, SYMPTOMS, CA– USES, & TREATMENT

Recovering from and Understanding eating disorders

Eating disorders are serious and widespread conditions that cause both physical and emotional damage. Contrary to popular belief, eating disorders are not really about food or weight, but rather attempts to control or avoid emotional and stress-related issues.

While people with eating disorders usually try to hide the problem, there are warning signs you can watch for. Early treatment makes recovery easier, so talk to your friend or family member if you’re worried. You can’t force a person somebody with an eating disorder to change their behaviors or beliefs, but you can make a difference by showing that you care, offering your support, and encouraging the person to seek professional help.

Eating disorders involve extreme disturbances in eating behaviors—following rigid diets, gorging on food in secret, throwing up after meals, obsessively counting calories. But eating disorders are more complicated than just unhealthy dietary habits. At their core, eating disorders involve distorted, self-critical attitudes about weight, food, and body image. It’s these negative thoughts and feelings that fuel the damaging behaviors.

People with eating disorders use food to deal with uncomfortable or painful emotions. Restricting food is used to feel in control. Overeating temporarily soothes sadness, anger, or loneliness. Purging is used to combat feelings of helplessness and self-loathing. Over time, people with eating disorders lose the ability to see themselves objectively and obsessions over food and weight come to dominate everything else in life.

Types of anorexia nervosa

There are two types of anorexia. In the restricting type of anorexia, weight loss is achieved by restricting calories (following drastic diets, fasting, and exercising to excess).

In the purging type of anorexia, weight loss is achieved by vomiting or using laxatives and diuretics.

Are you anorexic?

  • Do you feel fat even though people tell you you’re not?
  • Are you terrified of gaining weight?
  • Do you lie about how much you eat or hide your eating habits from others?
  • Are your friends or family concerned about your weight loss, eating habits, or appearance?
  • Do you diet, compulsively exercise, or purge when you’re feeling overwhelmed or bad about yourself?
  • Do you feel powerful or in control when you go without food, over-exercise, or purge?
  • Do you base your self-worth on your weight or body size?

Myths about Eating Disorders

Myth #1: You have to be underweight to have an eating disorder.

People with eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. Many individuals with eating disorders are of average weight or are overweight.

Myth #2: Only teenage girls and young women are affected by eating disorders.

While eating disorders are most common in young women in their teens and early twenties, they are found in men and women of all ages.

Myth #3: People with eating disorders are vain.

It’s not vanity that drives people with eating disorders to follow extreme diets and obsess over their bodies, but rather an attempt to deal with feelings of shame,
anxiety, and powerlessness.

Myth #4: Eating disorders aren’t really that dangerous.
All eating disorders can lead to irreversible and even life-threatening health problems, such as heart disease, bone loss, stunted growth, infertility, and kidney damage.

Anorexia treatment and therapy

Since anorexia involves both mind and body, a team approach to treatment is often best. Those who may be involved in anorexia treatment include medical doctors, psychologists, counselors, and dieticians. The participation and support of family members also makes a big difference in treatment success. Having a team around you that you can trust and rely on will make recovery easier.

Treating anorexia involves three steps:

  1. Getting back to a healthy weight
  2. Starting to eat more food
  3. Changing how you think about yourself and food

Medical treatment for anorexia
The first priority in anorexia treatment is addressing and stabilizing any serious health issues. Hospitalization may be necessary if you are dangerously malnourished or so distressed that you no longer want to live. You may also need to be hospitalized until you reach a less critical weight. Outpatient treatment is an option when you’re not in immediate medical danger.

Nutritional treatment for anorexia
A second component of anorexia treatment is nutritional counseling. A nutritionist or dietician will teach you about healthy eating and proper nutrition. The nutritionist will also help you develop and follow meal plans that include enough calories to reach or maintain a normal, healthy weight.

Counseling and therapy for anorexia
Counseling is crucial to anorexia treatment. Its goal is to identify the negative thoughts and feelings that fuel your eating disorder and replace them with healthier, less distorted beliefs. Another important goal of counseling is to teach you how to deal with difficult emotions, relationship problems, and stress in a productive, rather than a self-destructive, way. If you or someone you know would like help and support with your eating disorder, you might want to seek professional medical care from a healthcare provider such as this Orlando behavioral health center.

Getting past your fear of gaining weight
Getting back to a normal weight is no easy task. The thought of gaining weight is probably extremely frightening—especially if you’re being forced—and you may be tempted to resist. But research shows that the closer your body weight is to normal at the end of treatment, the greater your chance of recovery, so getting to a healthy weight should be a top treatment goal.

Try to understand that your fear of gaining weight is a symptom of your anorexia. Reading about anorexia or talking to other people who have lived with it can help. It also helps to be honest about your feelings and fears—including your family and your treatment team. The better they understand what you’re going through, the better support you’ll receive.

Helping an anorexic person
Encouraging an anorexic friend or family member to get treatment is the most caring and supportive thing you can do. But because of the defensiveness and denial involved in anorexia, you’ll need to tread lightly. Waving around articles about the dire effects of anorexia or declaring “You’ll die if you don’t eat!” probably won’t work.

A better approach is to gently express your concerns and let the person know that you’re available to listen. If your loved one is willing to talk, listen without judgment, no matter how out of touch the person sounds.

It’s deeply distressing to know that your child or someone you love may be struggling with anorexia. There’s no way to solve the problem yourself, but here are a few ideas for what you can do now to help make a difference for someone you love.

Tips for helping a person with anorexia
Think of yourself as an “outsider.” in other words, someone not suffering from anorexia. In this position, there isn’t a lot you can do to “solve” your loved one’s anorexia. It is ultimately the individual’s choice to decide when they are ready.

Be a role model for healthy eating, exercising, and body image. Don’t make negative comments about your own body or anyone else’s.

Take care of yourself. Seek advice from a health professional, even if your friend or family member won’t. And you can bring others—from peers to parents—into the circle of support.

Don’t act like the food police. A person with anorexia needs compassion and support, not an authority figure standing over the table with a calorie counter.

 

Avoid threats, scare tactics, angry outbursts, and put-downs. Bear in mind that anorexia is often a symptom to extreme emotional and stress and develops out of an attempt to manage emotional pain, stress, and/or self-hate. Negative communication will only make it world.

 

 

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