Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder in which a person drastically limits the amount of food that he or she eats. This limiting of food intake can result in starvation, as well as an inability to remain at the minimum body weight considered healthy for the person’s age and height.
People with anorexia nervosa usually have an intense fear of weight gain, even when they are not overweight, or are underweight. The combination of not eating enough food and exercising too much can result in severe weight loss.
While genetics and unrealistic views of body type may play a role, the exact cause of anorexia is unknown. However, anorexia seems to be more common among people who have relatives with the disorder. Anorexia nervosa is more common in females and usually occurs in adolescence or in young adults.
Some of the symptoms of anorexia may include:
Fine, limp hair
Extreme sensitivity to cold temperatures
Low blood pressure
Confusion or poor memory
Poor dental health (cavities)
Loss of body fat and muscle
People with anorexia may exhibit unusual behaviors such as quickly eating large amounts of food, going to the restroom right after meals, exercising excessively, and using laxatives or enemas to lose weight.
Perhaps the biggest challenge in treating anorexia nervosa is in getting the person to recognize that he or she has an eating disorder. The goals of treatment are to first restore the person to normal body weight and normal eating habits, and then to address the psychological issues that go along with the eating disorder. The mental aspect of anorexia is perhaps the most difficult bridge to cross, however, it is the light at the end of the tunnel. Hypnosis has been shown to be helpful in this area, using the power of suggestion to cause a shift in the anorexia sufferer’s way of thinking. In addition, psychological counseling may be needed. As always, consult your physician before beginning any type of treatment.