Are you preoccupied with your calorie intake because you think you tend to gain too much weight? You might be suffering from anorexia nervosa, which is a type of eating disorder. It’s extremely dangerous because it can lead to malnutrition or extreme levels of weight loss.  

So, it is important to note the signs of this disease and manage them to avoid these complications.  

Anorexia nervosa is a type of eating disorder where people get obsessed with gaining weight and try to do everything to lose weight. They are preoccupied with their calorie intake and weight, which can result in severe weight loss or in some cases malnutrition too. To lower their weight, they even start to exercise intensively and start avoiding meals or eating very little. Although, it can happen to anyone mostly found in adolescent or young women. Treatment often uses several strategies like nutritional counseling, medications, psychological therapy, or hospitalization.  

Causes 

What exactly causes anorexia nervosa is unknown. But doctors say people develop a negative image in their minds about their body weight; that if they gain weight, they will look bad. And they want to stay perfect every time. Researchers think it is a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors.  

  1. Biological factors: Genetic mutation or hormone changes can lead to anorexia nervosa. Researchers suggest that 50 to 80% of cases of anorexia nervosa are genetic. If your parents or relatives have any kind of eating disorder, the chances of developing the eating disorder are increased by 10 times. Hormones like dopamine or serotonin also play a big role in affecting appetite and are related to eating disorders.  
  2. Psychological factors: Some people have mental conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder which makes them obsessed about diet and workout to make sure they look perfect every time they see themselves in a mirror. They don’t even eat even if they are hungry. They might suffer from elevated levels of anxiety. In children, peer pressure to look slim might be the reason to develop anorexia.  
  3. Environmental factors: Environmental and cultural influence through social media, ads, films, magazines, etc. become the reason to develop anorexia.  

While these factors apply to most people, not all develop anorexia. 

Symptoms 

Symptoms involve not only physical but behavioral and psychological aspects. To confirm, you should notice all three traits – physical, behavioral, and psychological. These are the symptoms you will notice including:  

Psychological symptoms  

  • Intense fear of gaining weight.  
  • Not able to understand the ideal weight he/she should maintain according to their height.  
  • Obsessive interest in food, calories, and eating.  
  • Feeling overweight or fat, even if they are underweight.  
  • Being afraid of certain foods.  
  • Self-critical personality. 
  • Feel irritable or depressed. 
  • Having bad thoughts of self-harm or suicide.  

Behavioral symptoms 

  • Sudden changes in diet, start eating way less than before, or eat certain types of food. 
  • Sudden changes in the selection of food to eat.  
  • Talk more about “being fat” and “wanting to lose weight fast.” 
  • Purging immediately after eating or misuse of laxatives or diuretics.  
  • Using diet pills or appetite suppressants.  
  • Doing intense training or exercising.  
  • Continue to diet despite having a fragile body.  
  • Wearing loose clothes or wearing more layers of clothes to hide their weight loss or gain.  
  • Try to avoid friends, relatives, or social events. 

Physical symptoms  

  • A significant amount of weight loss in a few weeks or months. 
  • No focus on maintaining the ideal weight according to height, age, sex, stature, and physical health.  
  • Unexplained increase in Body Mass Index (BMI) in children or adolescents. 

In case of malnutrition or starvation, these are the symptoms you might notice: 

  • Dizziness 
  • Fainting 
  • Tiredness 
  • Slow or irregular heartbeat 
  • Low blood pressure 
  • Not able to focus or concentrate
  • Feel cold all the time
  • Irregular menstrual periods 
  • Shortness of breath
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Loss of muscle mass 
  • Dry skin and thin nails and hair 
  • Poor healing  
  • Bluish or purple color in hands or feet

Management 

The main goals of your treatment include: 

  • Maintaining your body weight.  
  • Beginning your nutrition rehabilitation to restore weight. 
  • Eliminating binge eating or purging habits or other problematic behaviors.  
  • Treating psychological issues of low self-esteem or distorted thinking patterns. 
  • Developing long-term behavioral changes to maintain weight.  

To achieve the above-mentioned goals, the doctor recommends taking nutrition counseling, psychological support, and counseling, or medications.  

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that makes a person obsessed with their weight. So, it is important to notice the signs in individuals so that you can take them for early diagnosis and get a treatment that works for them.  

Want to know more about eating disorders? Call us at 718-DORAL-55 to get a consultation. Click the link Doral Health & Wellness – Behavioral Health. We have the best psychiatrists to treat behavioral health problems. Call us now.