When people torture themselves with hunger, the reason for it may be anorexia rather than excessive weight. Anorexia is often mistakenly considered a whim typical for fans of dieting.
However, it is a dangerous psychological disorder. MedPulse.ru asked Ruzanna Akopyan, a psychoanalytic, to share her comments.
Ninety percent of anorexia cases are observed among females at the age of 12 to 24. Other ten percent are registered among older women and men.
“Anorexia is accompanied by a pathological desire to lose weight and a strong fear of obesity. People suffering from this disease have distorted perception of their body image. They see themselves fat although in reality they may suffer from dystrophy. To lose weight, anorexic patients torture themselves with diets, exercise and cleansing procedures like provoking vomiting after meals or using enemas,” Akopyan explained.
She listed the following signs of anorexia:
1. Patients always feel fat, and are especially concerned with certain parts of their bodies.
2. They often eat standing up and break food into small pieces.
3. They suffer from sleep disorders.
4. They isolate themselves from the society.
5. They are afraid of gaining weight.
Specialists do not have a unified opinion about causes of anorexia. Most likely, there are several reasons, including biological and genetic predisposition, psychological conflicts and problems, and finally, environmental factors.
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Anorexia risks increase when all three factors are present. A good example would be a young woman with a genetic predisposition who has difficulties in socializing with friends and relatives. She thinks that all her problems are rooted in the fact that she does not look like girls in fashion magazines. To look like them, she tries to lose weight and brings herself to a disastrous condition. Sometimes, a strong stress can be a reason.
What can anorexia cause? First of all, menstrual disorders, cardiac issues, and problems with muscles. Patients become irritable, difficult to communicate with.
Other consequences may include infertility, high risk of premature labor and post-natal depression. Besides, mothers suffering from anorexia may overfeed their children.
Doctors from Goteborg University (Sweden) have been observing a group of young people diagnosed with alteration of eating behavior for many years. They came to a conclusion that teenagers who suffered from anorexia at a young age have more chances to develop serious psychological disorders later in life. Almost 40% of patients suffered from various psychological disorders, and 25 percent were deemed incapable of working due to the disease.
Every fifth person suffering from anorexia dies from lack of nutritional elements and overall exhaustion.
Is anorexia treatable? At the moment, various medications and psychological therapy treatments are used with various degrees of success.
Recently, scientists from a California University made a discovery that might help to treat anorexia more effectively. The researchers discovered that patients suffering from anorexia have altered brain activity. They lose appetite and do not find pleasure in food like healthy people do. Their neurological impulses are distorted and they see their bodies differently than they really are. When the entire mechanism of the disease development is revealed, anorexia would be treatable through blocking certain brain zones and activating others.
What should be done if some of your close people suffer from anorexia?
“First of all, you should consult a psychiatrist to get proper diagnosis of the disease and treatment plan. One of the mandatory conditions of a successful treatment is support of family and friends,” Akopyan explained.