People around the globe are concerned about the harmful effects of obesity, and it is a global killer. Every year 35.8 million people die all around the world from the side effects of being overweight or obese. Around 2.3% of global disability-adjusted life year (DALY) which is defined as the number of years lost from disability, ill-health or early death is caused by overweight or obesity.
With the occurrence and awareness of obesity being prevalent worldwide, being thin is considered to be a mark of respect. Men and women all around the globe are conscious about their body weight and desire to maintain a slim or thin figure. In many parts of the world, people just want to be thin, to an extent of being underweight to an extremely unhealthy level. They do everything to remain as thin as possible and they fear gaining even a little bit of weight.
Anorexia nervosa commonly referred to as anorexia is an eating disorder where the affected person is extremely thin and fears gaining weight and he/she is excessively pre-occupied with their thin figure and they equate excessive thinness with self-worth. The main pre-occupation of people with Anorexia nervosa is to prevent weight gain or lose weight although their BMI is in most cases is much below the normal range. In order to achieve maintaining a thin body image, they try various methods to prevent weight gain or continue losing weight, by indulging in diuretics, diet aids and laxatives and all these are used in unhealthy proportions. They exercise abundantly as well with the ambition and intention to lose weight. There are people who use methods of binging and purging to lose weight or maintain weight and this behavior is similar with people who suffer from Bulimia.
Anorexia nervosa is a psychiatric disorder, and the root cause of it is mental disorders that affects the overall wellbeing of a person. The affected person commonly suffers from these mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, mood disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders, personality disorders and substance misuse.
It is not healthy to suffer from Anorexia nervosa, the behavior of wanting to remain extremely thin, by throwing out food through unhealthy methods of misusing diuretics and laxatives causes serious physical symptoms that can be life-threatening. Below are the physical symptoms of Anorexia.
Extremely thin body weight
Abnormal blood count
Low blood pressure
Soft thin hair
Appearance of bluish discoloration on fingers
Dry or yellow skin
Low blood pressure
Irregular heart beat
Swelling of arms and legs
Anorexia nervosa causes severe complications on the body and it is a strain on the mind as well. Food is not the main pre-occupation for a person who is suffering from this condition. It is the emotional burden of being thin and pondering on the thought that being thin is equated to being normal and accepted. What goes on in the mind of a person suffering from Anorexia nervosa, let us browse through the behavioral and emotional symptoms.
Emotional symptoms of a person suffering from Anorexia nervosa:
No interest in eating
Denies recognizing hunger
Intense fear of weight gain
Preoccupation about how much to consume
The person lies about the amount of food they eat
They tend to exhibit reclusive behavior and withdraw from society
Reduced desires in sexual activity
Watch out for these behavioral symptoms in a person with Anorexia nervosa:
The person will restrict the amount of food consumed, and will use weight loss methods to maintain weight or lose weight through exercise, fasting or dieting.
The person is uncomfortable about eating more food than they desire, and will use various methods to get rid of what according to a person with Anorexia is called excessive food consumption. They use methods of diet aids, enemas or laxatives and even bingeing and self-induced vomiting to get rid of extra food consumed.
These are the signs to notice in a person who is suffering or is likely to have Anorexia nervosa:
The person develops fear of eating and tends to skip meals and makes excuses for not eating
A person with Anorexia is conscious about weight gain even though they are extremely thin. He/she will binge on foods considered to be safe like low calorie food or food with low fat content.
Restricted eating is a common behavior, he/she will tend to spit out the food instead of chewing.
The affected person is constantly on the weighing scale ensuring that they maintain their weight or lose weight.
They constantly complain about being fat
They avoid eating in public and cover themselves in many layers of clothing
After inducing vomiting, you will notice eroded teeth and calluses on knuckles.
Cause of Anorexia nervosa:
Till now scientists have not been able to determine the cause of Anorexia nervosa and the only experimental proof is it could be a combination of biological, environmental and psychological factors:
It is unclear whether Anorexia is transmitted through genes, but experts say genetics is likely to play a role, in people who strive for perseverance, perfectionism and sensitivity and all these characteristics are present in a person with Anorexia.
Asian and western cultures emphasize on thinness, here it is cool to be thin and it is equated with success and being assured. It is the influence of ideologies of peers that puts a strain on individuals to be thin, and this is causing a lot of pressure especially with young girls.
Emotions play a major role in Anorexia, the affected individual particularly young women avoid the urge to eat even while feeling hungry. They maintain strict diets and binge on low calorie foods. Although society views them to be thin, they are not convinced, they consider themselves to be fat although they are not and it leads to high levels of anxiety causing them to eat less and restrict certain foods.
Risk factors that increase occurrence of Anorexia:
When individuals particularly girls are exposed to media, it increases chances of Anorexia, mainly because the media showcases series of skinny models and actors and here being skinny is associated with being beautiful and popular.
Girls and women are at a higher risk of suffering from Anorexia, and there have been increasing incidences of boys and men also suffering from this condition and the main cause is growing peer pressure.
Sport activities is one of the biggest triggers of Anorexia, here coaches favor skinny players and will advise the bigger ones to lose weight and it builds pressure on the mind of an individual, increasing susceptibility of the disease.
A person whose first degree relative has Anorexia such as parent or sibling are at a higher risk of suffering from the disease.
Coping with Anorexia nervosa:
A person with Anorexia lacks self-worth and they are influenced by societal pressures of being thin, and they feel being even excessively thin is not good enough. They are unable to accept themselves for who they are, and believe being thin is equal to being accepted, being responsible and looking good.
An individual with Anorexia needs help to change the way they think and start accepting themselves. It is important for close family and friends to help such individuals. The affected individual can also gradually start practicing self-help techniques in overcoming this disease. The best form of recovery is to start accepting yourself for who you are and recognize your good personalities. Once you are aware of your good qualities you can build self-confidence and start loving yourself and enjoy the good things life has to offer.
Aim to recognize the emotion you are feeling, if you feel fat and don’t feel good about yourself, ask yourself what is bothering you, and write down your thoughts and feelings in a diary. Mingle with people who make you feel good about yourself and this way you will be able to rediscover yourself by recognizing your good qualities. Gradually work on giving little attention to your thoughts about being fat and try to do fun activities which you enjoy like music, reading, writing, movies and so on. A good way to accept yourself is to reward yourself, do something that makes you feel happy like enjoy the fresh breeze, go to a place where you can relax like a library or bowling center, buy some amazing cosmetics and home decorations like perfume, fruity lotion, scented candles and so on.
It is important to recognize your Anorexia nervosa condition and seek help from a doctor, therapist and nutritionist. Fight this condition and rediscover the good moments of life.