Addiction Helper was established on the principle of helping addicts and their families get their lives back on track through treatment. But addiction treatments do not make up the entirety of what we do. We also help people suffering from eating disorders such as anorexia.
If you are worried that you or someone close to you is suffering from this eating disorder, we can help. Just contact us to learn more about what anorexia is and how wellness can be achieved through treatment. We have access to treatment centres all across the UK more than capable of helping you or your loved one overcome this potentially dangerous problem.
The Basics of Anorexia
Anorexia, also known as anorexia nervosa in clinical terms, is a severe eating disorder characterised by an abnormal obsession with body image. Almost all sufferers desire to be thin, yet they all have a warped view of what qualifies as being thin. It is not unusual for an anorexic to already be extremely gaunt and thin yet still believe she is overweight.
We say ‘she’ not because men do not suffer from anorexia, but because the disorder disproportionately affects women. Some 66% of all anorexia patients are women whose battle with the condition started sometime in childhood. More often than not, anorexia begins manifesting itself after some sort of extreme stress.
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 eating habits once weight loss was complete. Things are different for the anorexic.
As the weight drops off, the sufferer is even more convinced that additional weight needs to be lost. Even though the anorexic continues to get thinner and thinner, it is never enough. Furthermore, the anorexic has an unreasonable fear of gaining the weight back.
As already mentioned, anorexia disproportionately affects women. However, men and children of both sexes can also be affected by it.
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 in the initial stages. In such cases, people may not notice until the sufferer is dangerously malnourished. If you have even the slightest suspicion that someone you love is suffering from anorexia, please do that person a favour by looking more closely at what is going on. If you look hard enough, many of the signs and symptoms already present should be identifiable.
The signs and symptoms of anorexia manifest themselves both physically and emotionally. The most common physical symptoms are:
- excessive weight loss
- unusually thin appearance
- chronic fatigue and/or insomnia
- fainting spells
- pale, yellow complexion
- bluish colour in the fingers and toes
- intolerance of cold temperatures
- absence of the menstrual cycle
- dehydration, low blood pressure, constipation.
There may be other physical signs and symptoms specific to the individual that are not covered here. As for the emotional symptoms, the most common are:
- severe food restrictions; i.e., dieting or fasting
- lying about how much has been eaten
- use of laxatives, diet pills, and enemas
- consistent denial of hunger
- complete refusal to eat
- unusual obsessions with food
- unusual obsessions with gaining weight
- social withdrawal
- abnormal disinterest in sex
- depression, suicidal thoughts.
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 one’s health. In the worst cases, it can even result in death.
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 overcome anorexia.
Treating anorexia requires a two-pronged approach. Therapists must approach the physical aspects 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, getting these settled so that the patient once again thinks rationally about food, eating, and body image.
Where proper nutrition is concerned, therapists 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 dietitian 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 discovered, therapy must focus on retraining the mind to think about that trigger more rationally and reasonably. Only then can the therapist begin to teach the anorexic the root causes of his or her problem along with strategies to avoid future relapse.
Helping You Find Treatment
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.
We invite you to contact us to learn more about anorexia treatment and other eating disorders. Please be advised that you or your loved one may require hospitalisation if your current physical condition suggests you are already in danger. Otherwise, we can help you find a treatment programme that can start as soon as you are ready.