How Much Do You Know About Anorexia Nervosa?
Anorexia Nervosa is a disease which damages your mental wellness, and can cause serious harm to your overall wellbeing. If you have a psychologically disturbed body image, this can make you reluctant to consume food and leads to self-starvation, malnutrition, severe or extreme weight loss and, potentially, death.
As you might have guessed, this disease is most commonplace among teenage girls. Females are 10 times more likely to develop Anorexia Nervosa than males, and the incidence of anorexia nervosa is 1-10 per 100,000 females aged between 15 and 34 years, with 1-2% of schoolgirls and students suffering from the disease. However, these statistics are dependent on individuals reporting cases, so the numbers could be much higher.
The development of this condition normally happens because of a stressful life event, if you’re in a high social class or if you’re in an industry that demands a slim body, such as modelling and dancing. Your family may also have something to do with it, as there are theories put forward that there is a genetic element to Anorexia, as well as having a turbulent relationship with your parents. The onset of the disease doesn’t tend to occur after the age of 30.
To achieve this extreme weight loss, people exercise excessively, extremely restrict their diet, use laxatives, and vomit on purpose. This can cause your periods to stop, and you can develop low blood pressure and a slow heart rate, and become very sensitive to the cold, as well as the psychological symptoms of depression and anxiety, related to your distorted body image of being ‘fat.’
Once Anorexia Nervosa has been diagnosed, it is a long, fluctuating process of recovery. On average, two-thirds of people manage to maintain a normal weight, whereas the remaining third continue to be either moderately or seriously underweight. This group of people can be indicated by a long initial illness, severe weight loss, older age at onset, bulimia, vomiting or purging, personality difficulties, and difficulties in relationships. Suicide is also a possibility.
Unless the weight loss is severe, Anorexia Nervosa is treated on an outpatient basis. However, if there are symptoms such as dizziness, weakness and/or electrolyte and vitamin disturbances, hospital admission may be unavoidable and compulsory admission may have to be used. The goals of treatment are to establish a good relationship with the patient, restore their weight to a level between the ideal bodyweight and the patient’s ideal weigh, provide a balanced diet, building up to 12.6MJ (3000 calories) in 3 to 4 meals per day and eliminate and purging behaviour. There has also been limited success with medications, except to symptomatically treat insomnia and depressive illness.
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