Signs and symptoms
Help, it sounds like me!
Treatment for anorexia
Recovery and getting help
Impossible to hide?
Anorexia is something which most people assume is impossible
to hide, yet many anorectics DO manage to conceal their
condition well. Someone usually finds out eventually,
of course, but this may not be until the sufferer has
reached a dangerously low weight. Wearing baggy clothes
or even loose sweaters in the summer is a common attempt
to stop others from noticing the weight loss.
In one sense this is something of a paradox, because
do such attempts at concealment mean that an anorectic
is acknowledging the fact that they are too thin and
underweight? On the contrary, upon asking that question
to a sufferer, they are likely to say: "Just because
other people will think I am skinny doesn’t mean that
Physical signs of anorexia
These are the most obvious indicators of anorexia and
usually become more and more difficult to disguise.
Apart from the obvious sign which will be considerable
weight loss, the sufferer will also exhibit some or
all of the following:
substantial weight loss, at least 15% of a person’s
normal body weight
loss of appetite
loss of menstruation
fatigue and dizziness
constipation and abdominal pains
feeling cold to the touch even in warm weather
lanugo (fine, baby-like hair on the body), thinning
of hair on head
Other issues tend to overlap with bulimia,
such as excessive exercising, laxative or diuretic abuse
and self-induced vomiting. A person who is suffering
from both anorexia and bulimia is sometimes said to
have "bulimarexia". Anorexia and bulimia together
are a dangerous combination because, contrary to popular
opinion, anorectics DO usually eat, if only in small
amounts. However, if an anorectic is also vomiting any
food which they do consume, their physical condition
can deteriate even more rapidly than usual. There are
also many associated dangers
with anorexia nervosa, some of which can be life-threatening.
Psychological signs of anorexia
The psychological signs of anorexia are usually less
obvious than the physical ones and, unfortunately, are
often dismissed as merely "a teenage fad"
or "just a phase she’s going through".
Anorectics have a distorted body image, believing they
are fat or overweight even when it is painfully obvious
to others that the opposite is true.
Because their body is being deprived of vital vitamins
and minerals, mood swings are common with anorectics
as well as changes in personality and attitude. Depression
often goes hand-in-hand with an eating disorder, and
anorexia is no exception. A sufferer may feel worthless
and have low self-esteem. This can be because of the
telling them how bad they are, how they don’t deserve
to eat and must be punished if they do. This is something
which is very common to all eating disorders.
Disorder (O.C.D.) can also play a large part with
anorexia. Typically, the O.C.D. manifests itself through
the sufferer becoming preoccupied with numbers. This
need not necessarily be weights, although the sufferer’s
weight will be something they spend a great deal of
time thinking about. Another indicator of O.C.D. is
the sufferer cutting their food up into small pieces
before eating, often into a predetemined number. For
example, the food HAS to be cut up into an even number
of pieces or it HAS to be cut up into exactly 40 slices.
Bizarrely, although anorexia is now widely regarded
as a psychological illness more than a phsyical one,
doctors still use physical criteria to determine whether
or not a person is anorexic. These criteria include
a loss of menstruation in women, a loss of at least
15% of the sufferer’s body weight, refusal to eat or
having a low daily calorie intake, and having a body
mass index of less than 20.
If someone meets the psychological criteria for anorexia
but only some or none of the physical ones, they may
be diagnosed as having "atypical anorexia"
or an "eating disorder not otherwise specified"
(EDNOS). For example, they may have an extreme aversion
to food and refuse to eat, believe they are fat when
in reality this isn’t the case, yet may still be menstruating
and be at a reasonably normal weight. In this situation,
just because the individual doesn’t meet the physical
requirements, IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT THEY DON’T HAVE
AN EATING DISORDER. Tell
me more about the diagnostic criteria for all types
of eating disorders.
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