anorexia or Anorexia nervosa is a pathological eating disorder caused by mental disorders. Radical weight loss due to poor diet is typical of anorexia. In addition, those affected (mostly young girls in puberty) suffer from impaired self-perception and fear of becoming fat or even fat.
The most noticeable sign of anorexia is severe weight loss that is far beyond a healthy level.
The anorexia is a morbid eating disorder, also known in medical terminology as Anorexia nervosa referred to as. This disease often affects young women and girls. Significant weight loss is characteristic of anorexia, and the affected patients are usually terrified of gaining weight again.
If the body weight is more than 15 percent below normal weight, one generally speaks of anorexia. Anorexia is a serious disease that is fatal in around ten to 15 percent of cases. This is mostly the case if the disease is not treated in a timely manner.
After all, around 1.5 percent of women between 14 and 35 years of age are affected by anorexia. The proportion of those under the age of 20 is extremely high; usually this disease already develops during puberty. In principle, women are more often affected by this symptom, but in individual cases men can also suffer from anorexia.
In most cases, family conflicts and problems solve the Anorexia disease out. Those who are mentally unstable are more quickly afflicted by anorexia. Genetic predisposition also plays a major role. While there is not enough research into this, some people appear to be more prone to the disease than others.
A disorder in the brain region, which is responsible for eating behavior and the menstrual cycle, can also be a cause of the disease anorexia. Of course, society also plays a crucial role. Today's ideal of beauty is above all slender bodies; especially pubescent young people submit to this quickly. Girls who suffer from low self-esteem are significantly more likely to develop this condition.
In summary, one can say that there are usually several factors that lead to the outbreak of anorexia.
The most noticeable sign of anorexia is severe weight loss that is far beyond a healthy level. Even if they are significantly underweight, anorexics perceive themselves to be too fat - doctors speak of a body schema disorder. Objectively, anorexia should be considered from a body mass index (BMI) of less than 17.5 m / kg², but this limit value must be calculated more differently for children and adolescents.
If the weight loss continues, the body breaks down both fat reserves and muscle mass. This stage of the disease is externally visible through strongly protruding bones, deep-set eyes and hollow cheeks, in many cases there is significant physical weakness.
In addition to weight loss, changes in eating habits can also indicate anorexia. Affected people keep their meals to a minimum, avoid nutrient-rich foods, and count every calorie they eat. Excessive exercise is often used to lose weight, and some anorexic people take laxatives or drainage tablets to support them. Thinking only revolves around body weight, every slight increase in weight triggers dissatisfaction.
Massively underweight affects many body functions and can cause numerous complaints such as dizziness and weakness attacks, constant freezing, constipation and cardiac arrhythmias. Difficulty concentrating, anxiety, mood swings, and social withdrawal combined with severe weight loss can also indicate anorexia.
The anorexia is accompanied by numerous symptoms. Obviously, the weight loss is clearly visible; this can progress so far that it can become life-threatening. Due to the inadequate diet, of course, vital nutrients are missing. The so-called body schema disorder is also characteristic. Affected patients generally consider themselves too fat and perceive their bodies differently than outsiders.
The disease can be divided into two groups: about half of the patients are only on a diet, while the other 50 percent also have symptoms of eating-vomiting addiction (bulimia). These patients eat a lot, but break out again. Some patients also take laxatives to prevent weight gain. They are also often overly active in sports.
Of course, anorexia also leads to hormonal changes in the body; there is often no menstruation. A desire to have children often remains unfulfilled for anorexic people. Basically, the earlier anorexia is recognized, the better the chances of recovery.
The complications of anorexia nervosa are manifold and occur more frequently as the condition progresses. Up to 15 percent of all those affected die from the consequences of their malnutrition - especially from heart failure - or commit suicide.
Physical complications include any condition that occurs due to malnutrition. These include, for example, slow heart activity, which increases the risk of cardiovascular collapse, kidney failure due to potassium and protein deficiency, and osteoporosis. The physical weakness, in combination with a vulnerable circulation, can lead to falls, which result in permanent fractures and adhesions due to the weakened bones.
The blood formation and composition is disturbed, which promotes further organ damage as a result of an insufficient supply of nutrients and oxygen. The weakened immune system makes you more susceptible to infections, which are usually easy to fight. Even slight pneumonia or an intestinal infection can mean death.
The decrease in brain mass leads to memory problems and coordination difficulties. This is only partially reversible. The poor psychological condition of many of those affected is also expressed in self-harming behavior.
Even a treated and overcome phase of anorexia usually leaves secondary damage behind, which means a lifelong increased risk of further illnesses for the person concerned. Osteoporosis and renal insufficiency usually last a lifetime.
People whose body weight is too low according to the guidelines of the BMI should consult a doctor. If food intake is vehemently refused or severely reduced for several days or weeks, a doctor is required. If there are deficiency symptoms, hair loss or brittle nails, this indicates health problems. If you experience internal dryness, exhaustion or fatigue, a doctor's visit is required. If a girl or woman does not have a menstrual period, a check-up visit to a doctor is necessary.
If the life of the person concerned is determined by food intake, weight and appearance, medical help should be sought. A doctor should be consulted in the case of rejection of one's own body, a body schema disorder, or compulsive behavior. If professional or school services can no longer be provided, if the person concerned withdraws from the social environment and loses strength, a visit to the doctor is advisable.
A doctor or therapist should be consulted in the event of psychological abnormalities, irritability and changes in personality. If food intake and excretions are precisely documented and controlled, there is a problem that must be clarified by a doctor. Since anorexia can be fatal or cause other serious complications, the help of a doctor is necessary in good time.
With the disease anorexia it is primarily important to fight against being underweight, as this naturally affects all internal organs. Nutritional therapeutic measures should continue to help patients to fundamentally change their eating behavior and to learn again to eat "correctly".
In addition, psychotherapeutic measures are necessary, since the patient's attitude to food is naturally fundamentally disturbed. Family therapies have also proven effective here, especially for young people. However, since those affected often refuse to take in food, it is not infrequently supplied via infusions.
With the right therapeutic treatment and the willingness of the patient, there is a good chance of recovery from anorexia. What is important is the will and the desire of those affected to fight the disease. If there is uncertainty or the desire to maintain a very low body weight despite therapy, the chances of recovery worsen. A relapse risk is therefore more likely.
After a completed therapy, it makes sense to continue strengthening your personal resources. Self-esteem often plays a key role in an eating disorder. The disease often leads to social isolation. At the latest in the aftercare, it is time to rediscover old acquaintances and to strengthen contact with friends and family members.
In this context, people who until recently suffered from an eating disorder also have to deal with the question of how openly they would like to deal with their medical history. Since eating disorders often develop in adolescence, many sufferers have to learn again in the follow-up care to find their way around school or at work. Applications or returning to the old job can be a challenge for adults too.
Aftercare includes behavior in everyday life. This also includes shopping, cooking and everyday housework. Fixed structures can help to maintain healthy behavior patterns. A large part of the psychological follow-up consists of relapse prevention. In addition to the eating disorder, there may be other mental health problems that also need treatment.
When curing anorexia, a distinction must also be made as to whether a complete cure is to be sought or whether it is merely symptom-free. The latter is usually easier for patients to achieve because it allows certain behaviors to be maintained.
In addition to psychological stabilization, physical recovery is also important. The longer the disease has been going on and the more severe its course, the more likely it is that long-term consequences and irreversible damage will occur. For example, osteoporosis caused by anorexia will persist even after reaching a stable state.
Basically, those affected should be aware that the healing phase can take a long time, sometimes even several years. Without treatment, anorexia can become chronic and complicate a subsequent cure considerably. In addition, the risk of long-term consequences and acute symptoms such as cardiac arrest increases. Overall, however, it can be said that a complete cure for anorexia is basically possible.
Anorexia is a very serious disease that can be fatal. It is imperative that the disorder be treated professionally. Those affected are usually only able to help themselves during the early phase or in less severe cases. If the outcome is severe, the victims are usually no longer able or unwilling to recognize that they are sick and need help.
Young girls and women are particularly affected by the disease. Parents should therefore observe their children's eating habits critically. Not every attempt at diet is a pathological disorder and needs to be treated. However, when children begin to lose weight consistently, show no interest in eating, or even make excuses to avoid eating situations, countermeasures should be taken. Parents can then find help at advice centers.
Sufferers who are aware of their disorder and want a cure should definitely consult a doctor and a psychologist. In addition, there are also a few tricks that can make the fight against the disease easier. The relationship of perception is very often disturbed as far as food is concerned. Small portions are then perceived as huge. For this reason, the food should always be served on very large plates in order to put this distortion into perspective. It is also often easier for those affected to consume calories in liquid form. Green smoothies that are enriched with ground almonds or pine nuts are a healthy source of energy in these cases.