What Is it?
Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder whereby the person will severely restrict his/her food intake in order to maintain a low body weight. This can also be achieved by vomiting, laxatives and excessive exercise.
When someone is suffering from anorexia, they often have a distorted view of how they look and may see themselves as being considerably larger or heavier than they actually are.
Although on the surface anorexia may be about weight control and body image, people who suffer with anorexia often have issues with self esteem, depression, self harm, alcohol and substance abuse. Therefore losing weight can bring about a sense of achievement and confidence which is then continuously pursued.
What Are The Symptoms Of Anorexia?
Anorexia is a very serious mental health problem that can have disastrous effects on the body due to starvation; which can effect every system in the body. Such problems include severe weight loss, irregular periods in women/girls, poor concentration, sleep issues, dizziness, weakness and fatigue, constipation and bloating, stomach ache, mood changes, hair loss, excessive hair growth, low blood pressure, swelling of feet and/or hands, fluctuations in body temperature, hormonal changes, low blood pressure and loss of muscle strength.
Long term effects of anorexia can lead to erosion of tooth enamel from purging, fertility issues in women, delayed growth and physical development in children and reduced bone density.
If you think you might have anorexia, your first port of call should always be your GP. Your GP can then refer you for an assessment by a professional with specialist knowledge in eating disorders.
Depending on the severity of your eating disorder i.e. if you are felt to be at significant physical risk of harm to yourself, you may be treated in a hospital for your physical and mental health issues. However, if this is not deemed necessary at this point, you would likely receive psychological treatment on an outpatient basis which is likely to last from 3 to 6 months.
The predominant Psychological treatments for anorexia include Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) and Interpersonal Therapy (IPT). Psychodynamic therapy and family therapy are also treatments that might be offered. It is likely that your physical health be monitored alongside any psychological treatment.
Medication might also be prescribed for anorexia as a part of a treatment plan and a referral to a dietician may also accompany the psychological interventions.