Anorexia Nervosa is a serious and potentially life-threatening eating disorder defined by extreme self-imposed starvation and excessive weight loss. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), anorexia is characterized by a distorted body image and an intense fear of gaining weight, leading to self-starvation and excessive thinness.
Anorexia is not about vanity, nor is it a diet gone wrong. It is a complex interplay of genetic, biological, behavioral, psychological, and social factors. Individuals with anorexia often equate thinness with self-worth, leading them to deny the seriousness of their situation and the physical implications of their low weight.
World Health Organisation (WHO) classifies anorexia nervosa under the category of "eating disorders," indicating its worldwide recognition as a serious health issue. Both men and women can develop anorexia, although it's more commonly diagnosed in young women. Early diagnosis and intervention significantly improve recovery outcomes.
Extreme Preoccupation with Dieting and Weight: If you notice a constant obsession with diet, weight, and body size, combined with behaviors like excessive exercise, restrictive eating, or fear of gaining weight, professional help should be sought.
Significant Weight Loss: Rapid, significant weight loss or a body weight well below what would be expected for age, sex, and height could indicate anorexia.
Distorted Body Image: If someone sees themselves as overweight despite being underweight, or if they are extremely critical of their appearance and body size, it might be time to seek help.
Physical Symptoms: These could include symptoms of malnutrition such as amenorrhea (loss of menstrual periods), feeling cold all the time, fatigue, dizziness, or hair loss.
Emotional and Social Changes: Look out for mood swings, social withdrawal, anxiety, depression, or irritability, as they can indicate an underlying eating disorder.
Psychologists have a range of tools to support those living with anorexia. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most researched treatment for adults with anorexia. CBT aims to change the distorted thoughts and behaviors associated with eating, body shape, and weight.
Family-based treatment is considered the most effective method for treating young people with anorexia. In this approach, families play a crucial role in ensuring their child maintains a healthy weight and positive eating habits.
Moreover, interdisciplinary treatment is important in managing anorexia. Psychologists often work with dietitians, physicians, and psychiatrists to provide comprehensive care, ensuring the person receives adequate nutrition and medical care alongside psychological therapy.
If you or someone you love is experiencing any of the signs and symptoms mentioned above, please reach out to us. Our team of experienced psychologists is here to help guide you toward a healthier relationship with food, your body, and yourself. Remember, it's not just about weight or food—it's about finding balance and rediscovering your self-worth beyond your physical appearance. Call us today and take the first step toward a healthier and happier life. You're not alone in this journey, and with help, recovery is possible.