Addiction Helper have helped over 10,000 individuals with addiction problems and co-occurring disorders to access help and recovery. We only work with the best rehab clinics in the UK and abroad. All of our approved clinics are CQC regulated and follow strict medical and therapeutic ethics and regulations. In addition to helping those with an alcohol or drug addiction, we also are able to find treatment for those suffering from eating disorders. This page is dedicated to educating you and your loved ones on Anorexia, the associated signs and symptoms, the risks involved and the treatment options available, both locally and throughout the UK.
If you are worried that you or someone close to you is suffering from this Anorexia, we can help. Just contact us to learn more about what Anorexia is and how recovery can be achieved through the correct professional treatment. We have access to over 100 rehab treatment centres all across the UK, and a select number of specialist Anorexia recovery rehabs abroad, solely dedicated to helping and treating this particular life threatening illness.
Anorexia can affect anyone, regardless of gender, age, social class, profession or upbringing. It is a recognised mental health illness and recovery from this particular disorder is very challenging.
We want to reassure you that with the correct professional treatment, recovery from Anorexia is possible!
What Is Anorexia?
Anorexia, also known as Anorexia Nervosa in clinical terms, is a severe eating disorder characterised by an abnormal obsession with body image and food. Almost all sufferers have an intense desire to be thin, yet they all have a disillusioned view of what qualifies as being thin. It is not unusual for an Anorexic to already be extremely gaunt and thin yet still believe he or she is overweight. They will go to extremes in order to lose more weight, and never see themselves as being thin enough. Their whole life revolves around counting calories, restricted eating, obsessively weighing themselves and trying to hide their disease from others, for fear of being challenged or forced to eat.
What Age Group Is Anorexia Most Common In?
Most Anorexics develop anorexic tendencies during childhood and their teenage years. This is when they are most sensitive to comments regarding their appearance and have a desire to fit in and be popular. Of course there is far more to Anorexia than just a passing comment or a desire to fit in. The individual will already be predisposed mentally to developing the illness. Anorexics are usually highly intelligent individuals of an extremely sensitive nature with an intense desire to achieve perfection. Anorexia can affect both male and females, although most Anorexics tend to be female.
What Is Body Dysmorphic Disorder – BDD?
Many that suffer from Anorexia also suffer with BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder). In layman’s terms: they simply do not see themselves as others do. Even when extremely underweight, when looking in the mirror they will see themselves as fat and overweight. They do not see what is plain for others to see. This aspect of Anorexia is what drives most Anorexics to starvation, malnutrition, organ failure and death. BDD in Anorexia, manifests in an extremely distorted and deluded view of the anorexics perception of self. Where others will see the truth that they are underweight and starving themselves to death, the Anorexic will focus on tiny amounts of fat or loose skin and convince themselves that they are much larger than they actually are. BDD is a mental health illness that also requires professional treatment to overcome.
Statistics on Anorexia and Whom It Affects
The following statistics are taken from the NHS database and commissioned by BEAT, the UK’s main eating disorder charity:
- In 2015 a report was commissioned by BEAT, estimating that more than 725,000 individuals in the UK are currently affected by an eating disorder. Certain types of Eating Disorder tend to be more common within certain age groups, but realistically they can affect anyone, of any gender, age or race.
- BEAT reported that 1 in 250 females and 1 in 2,000 men will experience the life threatening illness of Anorexia Nervosa at some point in their lives. It is most common for Anorexia to develop between the ages of 16 and 17.
Contrary to popular belief, Anorexia does not only affect females, many men suffer but are less likely to seek help. In reality the statistics are probably much higher than reported. Anorexia is a very secret and shame-based illness; most individuals suffering find it extremely difficult to a) admit they have a problem, and b) seek professional help. An Anorexic’s ultimate fear is to gain weight; by seeking professional help and admitting that they have Anorexia, they know they will have to face the illness head on which will result in weight gain and change. This is what stops most Anorexics from seeking help for their condition. Failing to seek and accept professional help can be fatal. Anorexia is a progressive illness, and the individual will believe there is no such thing as being “too thin
Can Men Suffer from Anorexia?
Yes men can and do suffer from Anorexia. Although it tends to affect more females, statistics suggest that teenage males in particular are vulnerable to developing this disease. As Anorexia is predominantly associated with females, it can be harder to spot in males and there is a tendency for it to go unnoticed and undressed until it has reached a life threatening point.
What Causes Anorexia?
More often than not, Anorexia begins manifesting itself after some sort of extreme stress or trauma. This could be anything from physical or sexual abuse, to their parents separating, exam stress or bullying at school. Some are triggered by a flippant comment by a parent or caregiver. In reality, there could be any number of causes and it is only through accessing the correct professional treatment that theses causes can be unearthed and addressed. It is not the event that is responsible, but the Anorexics response to the event or comment in their mind and how they perceive their body image as being somehow related to it.
It is important to realise that as a recognised mental health disorder, not all children or adults will react to events of this type by becoming Anorexic. The individuals that develop the condition are already mentally predisposed to it. As Anorexia progresses, the individual will become more and more physically and mentally unwell; eventually losing complete touch with reality and any kind of healthy perspective.
The Anorexia sufferer usually starts out eating and exercising normally. But then the perception of body image changes. In an effort to lose weight, the person begins eating less. Under normal conditions, someone trying to lose weight would resume normal or healthy eating habits once weight loss was complete. Things are different for the Anorexic. Their mood and life is dictated by what they see in the mirror and the reading on their weighing scales. In order to lose more weight and speed up the process, they will go to bigger and bigger extremes, further restricting their food intake and also becoming obsessed with getting rid of any calories consumed, either through excessive exercise or through purging (self-induced vomiting or laxative abuse)
As their physical health declines, so does their mental wellbeing. They become trapped in a downward spiral of becoming sicker and sicker.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Anorexia?
The signs and symptoms of Anorexia are easy to spot in theory. However, it is also possible for the Anorexic to hide these symptoms, especially in the initial stages. In such cases, people may not notice until the sufferer is dangerously malnourished and seriously underweight. If you have even the slightest suspicion that someone you love is suffering from Anorexia, please observe the individual more closely for signs and symptoms. If you look hard enough, many of the signs and symptoms already present should be identifiable. This will present you with the evidence needed and confidence to challenge them, and encourage them to get the correct professional help and treatment. Ignoring or failing to challenge an individual who has developed Anorexia can result in them developing irreversible damage to themselves physically and also mentally.
The signs and symptoms of Anorexia manifest themselves both physically and emotionally. The most common physical symptoms are:
- excessive weight loss – due to reduced food intake and increase purging
- unusually thin appearance – underweight due to lack of calorie consumption
- chronic fatigue and/or insomnia – due to lack of nutrients and impact on nervous system
- fainting spells – Due to nutritional imbalances and deficiencies
- pale, yellow complexion – Nutritional deficiencies affecting skin colouring, possible early stages of liver and organ failure
- bluish colour in the fingers and toes – poor circulation due to nutritional deficiencies and strain on heart
- intolerance of cold temperatures – lack of body fat to keep natural body temperature
- absence of the menstrual cycle – lack of nutrients leading to decrease in hormone production
- dehydration, low blood pressure, constipation – lack of food and nutrition intake to fuel the body
- Fine downy hair covering body – developed in severe anorexia to keep the body warm
- Unhealthy obsession with food – the mental aspect of the disease
- Protruding bones – lack of natural body fat indicating the individual is underweight
There may be other physical signs and symptoms specific to the individual that are not covered here but these are the main ones to watch out for.
As for the emotional/psychological symptoms, the most common are:
- severe food restrictions; i.e., dieting or fasting – the anorexic is obsessed mentally with restricting and calorie counting
- lying about how much has been eaten – to hide the fact they are starving themselves
- use of laxatives, diet pills, and enemas – to purge calories and reduce appetite/speed up weight loss
- consistent denial of hunger – avoidance to eat and fear of weight gain
- complete refusal to eat – avoidance to eat and fear of weight gain
- unusual obsessions with food – psychological aspect of Anorexia
- unusual obsessions with gaining weight – intense and irrational fear of weight gain
- social withdrawal – to avoid being challenged and becoming depressed
- Irritability – hormonal and nutritional imbalances
- abnormal disinterest in sex – fear of revealing body and lack of sex hormone production
- depression, suicidal thoughts and anxiety – deficiencies in brain’s chemistry
- Refusing to eat in front of others – fear of being watched and monitored for food intake
- Covering up their body with baggy clothing – fear of being challenged
- Disposing of food or hiding food – trying to avoid eating through fear of weight gain without arousing suspicion
- Always saying they have just eaten – avoidance to eat tactic
- Excessive exercising – trying to burn any calories they have consumed and speed up weight loss
- Preoccupation with media diets and pro anorexia websites – comparison to others and inspiration and affirmation of further weight loss
- A distorted view of their body image – BDD psychological illness associated with Anorexia
The signs and symptoms should make it clear how dangerous Anorexia is. At the very least, it leads to prolonged malnutrition that can have a permanent effect on the individual’s health. In the worst cases, it can result in death.
How to Treat Anorexia
As frightening and debilitating as Anorexia can be, it is very treatable. Over the years, we have seen numerous celebrities who have been successfully diagnosed and treated very much in the public eye. Yet along with each one of those celebrities, there are untold numbers of others who also successfully also overcome Anorexia.
Treating Anorexia requires a multi-disciplined approach. Initially, therapists and medical professionals must address the physical aspect of the condition by restoring proper nutritional balance and finding ways to encourage the Anorexic to adopt lifelong healthy eating habits. The second part of treatment is to deal with the emotional problems that led to the anorexia; unearthing, addressing and processing the root causes safely so that the patient once again thinks rationally about food, eating, and body image. The mental aspect of the illness also requires intensive professional treatment. This is usually through therapeutic means but sometimes medications are also used to treat any additional underlying mental health problems. It is vital that the individual is treated as a whole, from a physical, medical, emotional and mental health aspect by qualified and experienced professionals only.
Where proper nutrition is concerned, therapists and medical professionals have to start slowly. Just as someone suffering from starvation cannot be set at a banquet table and expected to eat safely, the therapist cannot restore proper nutritional balance overnight by feeding the Anorexic tremendous amounts of food. This must be approached slowly so as not to overwhelm the body. Once the nutritional balance has been restored, the therapist can utilise the services of a trained nutritionist and dietician to teach the patient how to make wise choices about food in the future.
The harder part of treatment is dealing with the underlying emotional issues. Therapists first need to find out what triggered the Anorexic behaviour. Once uncovered, therapy must focus on retraining and rewiring the mind to think more rationally and reasonably; only then can the therapist begin intensive work with the Anorexic to address the root causes of his or her problem along with teaching them new and healthy coping strategies to avoid future relapse.
How to Find Treatment for Anorexia
At Addiction helper, our number one priority for helping Anorexics is to direct them to the most appropriate treatment possible. Because we know the most effective solutions address both the physical and psychological aspects of Anorexia, we focus on private rehab clinics and other service providers proven to treat the whole person rather than just physical symptoms. Inpatient is really by far the best option for an anorexic to find recovery; due to the nature of the illness they will require very close monitoring and intensive therapeutic care around the clock. Inpatient programmes of a minimum of 12 weeks are recommended for optimum results. We also offer Secondary care and Tertiary care to assist the individual in reintegrating their recovery into their daily lives and back into the community.
Immediate Help for Anorexia
By calling us you will receive a free and confidential assessment, carried out by one of our highly skilled and trained addiction experts. From there, we can advise you on the most appropriate treatment depending on the severity of the condition and other relevant factors. With an individual who has a dangerously low BMI, hospitalisation is often required before therapeutic measures can be of maximum benefit. We put our patients welfare above all else and it is essential that they immediately start to engage in the correct path of treatment for their recovery. Once the Anorexic is out of the physical danger zone, we can then work with them intensively within one of our specialist rehab treatment clinics.
Anorexia is not curable, the individual will always be susceptible to relapse, but it is very treatable and from there permanent recovery can be maintained. We only use evidence based treatments delivered by qualified Counsellors, Doctors, Nurses and Psychologists when treating this killer disease. We invite you to contact us to learn more about our treatment options for Anorexia and other eating disorders. We can provide immediate admissions to one of our many specialist rehab recovery centres in the UK and also overseas. We will do all we can to help you access the lifesaving help and treatment required for a full recovery and we will support you and your loved ones throughout the entire process.