Identify Anorexia Nervosa
Edited by Olivia, Lynn, Eng
Loss of appetite is usually a symptom felt by an individual when he or she is ill. However, if the person seems to experience this every day as a result of how he or she sees themselves, then something else might be wrong.
How many times have you looked into the mirror to see a fat person? How many times have you asked your friends if you look fat and gotten a resounding no? Have you been so hard on yourself lately that you think you would look better if only you were thinner than you are now? Be wary about obsessing yourself into losing weight, for you might be experiencing anorexia nervosa.
Anorexia nervosa is a condition where you excessively fear weight gain. You see an overweight reflection in the mirror, even if you're not overweight. This eating disorder usually starts subtly. Most eating disorders start during puberty or teenage years, when peer pressure is high, but it can ensue at any age, before or after puberty.
What predisposes a person to develop anorexia nervosa?
A major crisis in life may trigger depression. As such, it can also trigger this condition. A person may have had a troubled marriage because of a partner's infidelity. The third party involved may look good and because of this, the aggrieved partner will try hard to measure up to salvage his or her pride.
Too much anxiety.
To be anxious about something or someone is considered healthy. If you are making a presentation, being anxious about criticism will help you prepare and drive you to put your best foot forward, to exceed expectations. However, when anxiety is too much, it may render the person incapable of thinking straight. For instance, if you've been chosen to represent your class in a beauty pageant, you may start losing weight to look good because you are anxious about how other people will judge you. However, when this anxiety overwhelms a person's psyche, it is debilitating. The individual may refuse to eat or eat only a little, and then exercise vigorously.
It is a known fact that some drug and alcohol abusers rarely eat. It is one of the side effects alcohol and drug abuse. There is little or no desire to eat. The only desire is to drink alcohol or use prohibited drugs.
How will you recognize anorexia nervosa?
Refusal to maintain a normal weight.
When you see someone who is excessively thin (especially if you know the person), you may express your concern. The person can sometimes accept and even agree with your suggestion, but after a couple of months, the individual will likely look the same or worse, getting thinner. Though the individual is aware of the problem, he or she refuses to eat enough to gain weight. There is an obstinate fear of gaining weight or maintaining it within normal limits.
Intense fear of weight gain.
Though the individual feels hungry, he or she will refuse to eat. This is because of the conscious fear of gaining weight. Even if you see the individual as skin and bones, he or she still sees an overweight reflection, and as such, will continue to refuse food.
Maybe an issue that goes way back to childhood or teenage years, an altered self-perception may be the problem for some people. For instance, an individual may have experienced humiliation because of his weight. This experience may have had traumatized him, so much so that he makes it a point that he will not have the same experience again. He or she may have witnessed someone else being ridiculed because of their weight. Fearing for themselves, the thought of being ridiculed further supports the altered body image perception.
Absence of monthly period. When a woman loses weight, the body copes. When the weight loss is excessive, the body will try to retain its integrity. As such, there will be less perspiration, fewer bowel movements, and scant or no menstruation.
In order to help you identify anorexia nervosa further, the following are the 10 warning signs  of this condition:
- Alopecia or hair loss
- Fixated fear of weight gain
- Body has excessive hair because of protein inadequacy
- Sensitivity to cold temperature
- Does not want to eat
- Need for continued weight loss
- Self starvation despite weight loss
- Amenorrhea or absence of menstrual period
- The need to exercise
- Inability to maintain normal weight
A person who experiences this disorder needs a lot of support and self-confirmation. When you recognize these symptoms, it is best to express concern not just to the individual, but but to his or her support system. Anorexia nervosa can be fatal if left untreated.
1. National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
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Recent edits by: Lynn, Olivia