Anorexia is an eating disorder which affects mainly teenage girls but men as well as women have been know to develop the illness a little later in life, it is a disease which causes the sufferer to firmly believe that they are overweight, when in fact the opposite is true. Those suffering from anorexia will develop a fear of becoming fat to the point where they don’t eat or eat and then purge the food by means of induced vomiting.
The symptoms and signs of anorexia
A person is said to be anorexic if their weight loss falls below 15% of the normal ideal body weight for a person of similar age and height, in young girls, the periods may also stop or they may be delayed. The sufferer of anorexia will develop a deep-seated fear of not only becoming overweight but also that they are fat and overweight, they will even believe this when their weight is far below that of average.
If the person does eat then they will feel bloated after only the smallest of meals and many will induce vomiting in order to purge themselves of what they ate. They will begin to lose all interest in a social life and have side effects such as extreme tiredness, feeling cold, become constipated and have problems with the stomach.
Some people may have suffered from anorexia for a long time before anyone realises there is anything wrong but the sooner the illness is diagnosed then the better the chance of recovery. However, it can take many months or even years for the weight gain to reach what is recommended for the person’s height.
How is anorexia treated?
Treatment for the illness will vary from person to person and will also depend on the severity of the illness, there is no single remedy for the illness and it can take a long time to recover from it depending on how long the person has been suffering and how much weight has been lost. Effective treatments for the illness are
* Restoring the person to a healthy weight for their height over a period of time
* Encouraging the person to establish healthy eating habits
* Treating any underlying physical complications or mental health problems
* Help them to address issues they have concerning food and their body
* Enlisting the help of family members
The biggest problem and the first steps towards recovery are getting the person to admit that they do indeed have a problem and getting them to realise they are suffering from an illness and do need help to recover. Once this step has been taken then recovery from anorexia is a long drawn out process with the first step being getting the person up to a reasonable level of weight for their height.
Family support is crucial on the road to recovery and family members are usually advised to attend therapy along with the person suffering in order to gain a better understanding of how the illness happened in the first place and also how they can stop it happening in the future.