- Warning signs of anorexia
- Eating disorder anorexia: what is it?
- Causes of anorexia
- Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa
- What are the symptoms of anorexia if you have been ill for a long time
- Anorexia treatments options
- Treatment for anorexia: What can I do myself?
- Psychotherapy for anorexia treatment
- Medication for anorexia
Anorexia is an eating disorder that means you are trying to starve to lose weight, even though you weigh less than what is healthy for your length and age. Anorexia can be life threatening unless you receive treatment. Most people who get treatment get healthy.
Here you can read about anorexia, or anorexia nervosa as the disease is called in medical language. If you are a parent or close relative to someone who has an eating disorder, you can read more here.
Warning signs of anorexia
It may take time to develop an eating disorder, and sometimes it can be difficult to know when it has become a disease. You may have anorexia if you have any of these problems:
- You are constantly thinking about what you should or not to eat.
- You are very afraid of losing weight.
- You often receive comments that you are too narrow.
- You think you’re too fat no matter what others say.
- You have constipation and pain in the stomach.
- You freeze a lot, have difficulty falling asleep and wake up seldom.
- You’ve lost the lust of most of the things you used to like to do.
If you have anorexia, you may find it difficult to see for yourself that you need help. Often, people in your environment respond to the fact that you have lost too much weight.
If you recognize yourself in the above descriptions, you may have an eating disorder or be in danger of developing an eating disorder. Then it is important that you seek professional help. The earlier you seek care the better.
Eating disorder anorexia: what is it?
Anorexia is a form of eating disorder which means you eat so little that you are starving yourself. In medical language the disease is called anorexia nervosa. The disease usually begins with a lot of weight in a short period of time. You can get anorexia regardless of gender and age, but the most common thing is that you get sick in your teens.
Unlike bulimia, which is usually not noticeable, anorexia usually appears and is suspected by the environment. Often people are around you who react first, and then the reactions can become stronger the more you lose weight. If you have anorexia, you do not share your concern about your weight.
Instead, you are focused on controlling your body and reducing weight. That task feels vital.
Two types of anorexia
There are two types of anorexia:
- The first one means you starve to lose weight.
- The other one means that you are starving to lose weight, while sometimes you are stunned or feeling that you have to get rid of the food you have eaten by, for example, vomiting or using laxatives.
Causes of anorexia
What causes anorexia? There are several reasons for it. Don’t miss warning calls.
Fear of losing weight
If you have anorexia, you think you are fat, though you are thin. You feel that you are well and do not notice that you are affected by the famine, both physically and mentally. This is how anorexia caused.
You usually feel hate for your own body and are very afraid of losing weight. The image you own is different from what others are looking at. The distorted image you have of yourself belongs to the disease.
Need for control
In order to control your inner mood, eating disorder becomes a way to subdue your feelings rather than handling them. In the short term, the anxiety can be stressed by weight control, but in the long run your problems worsen because you are not in touch with your feelings. It becomes difficult to orient yourself to life and to find a guideline in relation to life’s various challenges.
Self-esteem is affected
If you have anorexia, your self-esteem is highly dependent on body shape and weight. You are often dissatisfied with yourself. The thoughts constantly revolve around food, your concentration capacity is affected and you sleep worse.
Often you have high demands on yourself and want to perform well. You can commute between hope to finally take control and be content with yourself, and a sense of hopelessness when you think it will never happen.
Common with mental disorder
If you have anorexia, it is common for you to have anxiety, being depressed or depressed. Because your behavior makes you more isolated you can get an increasingly negative self-image. It is common for you to get obsessive thoughts, phobia or hurt yourself. You can also get suicidal thoughts.
Excessive exercise along with strict diet – “orthodoxy”
Training in a compulsive way together with a strict diet is common if you have an eating disorder. It is sometimes termed “orthodox”, for example in various news media. Although many may recognize themselves in the description of orthoraxia, it may be good to know that it is not a formal eating disorder or psychiatric diagnosis. Moreover, the term orthopexis has a slightly different meaning when used internationally.
However, the problems can be serious to the person concerned. When you seek care, you can instead diagnose anorexia, OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or anxiety. No matter what the diagnosis is called, you can get treatment for your problems.
Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa
How your body is affected depends on how long you have had your eating disorder and how quickly you lost weight. A very fast weight loss can be significantly more harmful than a slower decrease that is easier for the body to adapt to.
The signal system is disturbed
Experiences of hunger and saturation are controlled by a signal system in the brain. The digestion is affected by what you eat and how much you are touching. The body weight will then be adjusted automatically to the life you live.
Anorexin rubs the signal system. Instead, you develop obsessions and compulsive behaviors that make it difficult for you not to listen to what your body needs.
Lack of important topics
If you give the body a little nutrition and energy, the body sets itself on starvation by reducing energy consumption. Substance turnover decreases. If you are still growing, the disease can affect your height growth and lead to osteoporosis.
If you avoid certain foods for a long time, you may lack different substances and salts that your body needs. It can be harmful to, for example, the heart.
Dizziness and iron deficiency
It is common for you to get stomach aches, constipation, gas formation or other problems with your stomach and bowel. These symptoms appear because you get too little iron can make you tired.
Most of the side effects of anorexia disappear when you start to eat regularly and regain a healthy weight in relation to your length and age.
The body sets on starvation
If you have anorexia, you can lose weight so much that your body is unable to handle its biological functions. The state is called famine.
The limit for when starvation begins is often considered to go at the point when body weight is less than 85 percent of the body weight that can be expected by people of the same gender and age.
What are the symptoms of anorexia if you have been ill for a long time
If the body is in famine for a long time, further things happen. In order to save energy, the body begins to turn off important functions. Then the following happens:
- Your heart rate decreases and your body temperature drops.
- You get low blood pressure, which makes you feel dizzy.
- Blood circulation gets worse folded can cause you to freeze and gets cold and blue in feet and hands.
- You may have problems with osteoporosis, which may make you more easily blemish.
- Your muscles are weakened.
- You can have a thin hair, so called lanugo hair, in the neck and on your arms and legs.
- Your hair may get hot and you may have dry skin and acne.
- Your heart and kidneys may begin to function worse.
If you are affected by self-esteem for an extended period of time, the brain may also be affected. You may then get so-called brain atrophy, which may affect how well your brain works.
Anorexia treatments options
To find out if you have anorexia you need to seek care. Sometimes there may be bodily diseases that give symptoms similar to eating disorders. Therefore, it is important that you get a proper investigation.
If you are under 18 years of age
You under the age of 18 can contact a health center, a youth reception, student health or child and adolescent psychiatry.
If you are over 18 years old
You who are 18 years of age or older can book a healthcare center, psychiatric clinic or occupational health center if you work. You who are up to 20-25 years old can also contact a youth reception.
The age limit varies between different youth receptions. You who study can contact the student health, if the problems with the studies or the university have to do.
An increasing number of county councils have special eating disorders. On some receptions you will need a referral from the student health or healthcare center, but in several places you can contact yourself.
Try again if the help did not work
If you have previously got help somewhere but do not think it worked, try again somewhere else.
It may work differently to talk to different people. It is also different how it feels during different periods. Sometimes it may take time before it feels right to receive help.
Treatment for anorexia: What can I do myself?
You can start by finding as much as possible about anorexia and how it is treated. This could be a first step towards seeking help.
Start talking to others
There are various online associations that offer support and help by phone, chat or email. You can also start by talking with a friend or someone you trust so you do not have to be alone with that which is difficult.
Dare to talk about difficult feelings
You are welcome to feel comfortable and to be comfortable with who you are. It’s important to hang out with people who help you appreciate and develop yourself.
To start talking about what you kept for yourself and joking can feel both difficult and as a relief. You can respond in a way that you did not expect. Everyone reacts differently, and there is no right way to know.
Get new perspectives
When you begin to talk to others, you will automatically start thinking and feeling differently because you are no longer alone with your thoughts. Often thoughts of weight, body and food have taken an excessive amount of space.
Perhaps you have forgotten what other things you think are important in life?
Talking to others gives you a more healthy perspective than if you go alone with your thoughts.
Find out what you need
Pictures of seemingly perfect bodies in advertising and social media can increase the pressure and make us lose contact with our own bodies. When am I really hungry? Can I be hungry? What does it mean for me to feel good? The answers to those questions can give you insights on what you need to feel good.
You may need to learn more about healthy eating habits, exercise and sleep, and what the body needs to feel good.
You can learn to trust your body and differentiate from hunger and sweetness. Sometimes relaxation and exercises in mindfulness can help.
Psychotherapy for anorexia treatment
If you have anorexia, you need help both to break the famine and find ways to deal with your emotional difficulties.
The treatment you receive is primarily psychotherapy, either individually or in groups. The therapy means that you will change your way of eating, and to process other difficult emotions. Sometimes antidepressants are also included in the treatment.
Study consisting of interviews
In order to be able to plan the correct treatment, a thorough investigation is made. You will be able to answer questions about your eating behavior and how you have it in life in general. It happens in several interviews made by a psychologist or curator. Sometimes you have to fill in different questionnaires.
You can also get through a general body examination, weigh and leave different samples. If you are under 18, parents are also interviewed.
Changed eating habits and help to handle emotions
To correct anorexia, you need help with the injuries caused by self-esteem and help to change your eating habits in a long time. You also need help in dealing with difficult emotions and psychological problems.
To do that you usually get in some form of psychotherapy. Here you can read more about psychotherapy as treatment for eating disorders.
At least six months of treatment
The duration of treatment and how it is designed varies, but it usually involves a therapy session per week for six to nine months.
Depending on how you feel and what problems and difficulties that have arisen during the treatment period, you may need to continue in the therapy even after you have corrected the actual eating disorder problem.
Many specialist receptions organize group meetings for both those who have anorexia and for the related. There you and your close relatives can get information about eating disorders, food and how to eat better.
On some receptions there are day care activities where you cook and eat food together, and discuss different eating disorders.
Medication for anorexia
If you have a depression while having an eating disorder, you can get treatment with antidepressant drugs. If you receive such medicines, they should not be the only form of treatment but always combined with psychotherapy.
If you still live at home, family therapy may be an option. Then there are also parents and possibly even siblings.
If you are heavily affected by anorexia, you may need to be given hospital care because of how your body has been affected by the self-esteem.
Most people who have anorexia need not be hospitalized. However, if you are severely affected by starvation, for example, you have very low body weight, low heart rate or low body temperature, you may need hospital care.
The goal of treatment is to start the body’s biological functions. You can get nutritious meals or nutritional drinks, liquid drops and monitoring.
There is a risk of recurrence after treatment, especially when exposed to stress or new challenges. Even if you do not regret anorexia, there may be a risk of developing bulimia.
Many specialist care units organize follow-up or special conversations to counter relapse.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Even if you have been free from eating disorders for several years, negative thoughts about food and your body may come back during pregnancy or after you have had children. It is not uncommon for you to feel fear of the weight gain that is necessary when you are pregnant.
If you have an eating disorder and become pregnant, it is important to tell you about the eating disorders of the midwife at the maternity care center, so that pregnancy can be followed in the best possible way. The body has a natural tendency to protect the fetus by, for example, ensuring that the fetus is nourished in the first place.
At the same time, it is a major strain for you and the child if you develop an eating disorder associated with pregnancy. There is a certain increased risk of miscarriage if you have anorexia. Therefore, it is very important that you get professional help early.
Most of the patients will be fine again
When you are sick, you may feel like you will never be well and feel happy again, but it must not be. There is treatment for anorexia.
The way back can be long and difficult, but even if you have lived with anorexia for many years you can get better or completely healthy. If you seek help, through care or in a support group, you increase your ability to get well.