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What Is Anorexia Nervosa? And How To Help Someone Suffering From It?

by DrPrem Jagyasi
Anorexia Nervosa

What is Anorexia Nervosa?

An eating disorder coupled with an intense desire to look and remain thin is medically known as ‘Anorexia Nervosa’ or simply, Anorexia. This often results in the patient strictly monitoring their diet, to the extent of starvation, all in an effort to lose body weight. The weight loss that takes place is extremely unhealthy since it is a result of not eating at all. Many people who are diagnosed with anorexia are of the opinion that they are overweight, when in reality their body weight should be more than what they possess.

How is it caused?

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia is known to occur in people who are particularly obsessed with a slim or zero sized figure. Usually, girls in their youth are seen to be affected by it. Models or people with a profession which needs to keep their physical appearances and body weight in check sport a higher chance of becoming anorexic. It not only affects females, but males too are at equal risk when it comes to becoming anorexic. Genetics also plays an important role in determining the possibility of a person turning anorexic.

Though the exact cause of anorexia is still unknown, it is still a condition which affects the mind first, more than the body. Anorexics very strongly believe that they are overweight, when in fact, they are dangerously underweight. They see themselves having a bulgy figure or being quite fat, though it is far from the truth.

What are its signs and symptoms?

Anorexia Nervosa

Though anorexia is more of a psychological issue, its signs and symptoms extend to physical appearances too. Starvation and excessively controlling oneself from eating results in severe health issues like decreased immunity and weakness. Some of the symptoms are as given below:

  • Being underweight is the first and the most obvious of signs of anorexia. This happens due to cutting down on the intake of food.
  • The patient undergoes frequent hair loss, and the quality of their hair deteriorates with every passing day.
  • The digestive system is the first to get affected by anorexia. Long periods of starvation lead to conditions of severe dehydration and constipation.
  • Lack of a balanced diet take its toll on the health of the mind as well. Anorexics can no longer think straight or act soundly. They usually feel dizzy and become more prone to fainting.
  • Speaking of mental health, anorexics start linking their self-esteem with the meat on their bones. The more the body weight, the less secure they feel. Given the fact that people suffering from anorexia feel overweight almost all the time, they have serious self-esteem issues.

How can we aid a patient of Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia, as mentioned before, is more inclined towards the mental state of a person than its physical state. Hence, its solution is to treat such patients with love and care. Here are a few ways by which you can approach your anorexic family member or friend:

  • Have a healthy conversation with them and try to understand their point of view. Patiently explain to them the severe drawbacks concerning their eating disorder. Lend an ear and be supportive in every way.
  • Such conditions are sometimes symptoms of a bigger picture, like emotional depression. Ask them if they are facing such an issue and how can you be of any help. Urge them to seek medical help, if at all they are indeed undergoing an emotional turmoil.
  • There are plenty of professional therapies of anorexia. Ask them to try them out. Do everything you can and pull them out of their misery.
  • Nutrition counseling is also offered to anorexics. They can help your anorexic friend by penning down a meal pattern for them with the necessary amounts of required nutrients.

Anorexia Nervosa is a difficult journey. The least one can do is be of good help and a steady support for their loved ones who are unfortunate enough to go through it.

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