Anorexia Among Students Ages 18-25 By: Bianca Braun
WHAT IS ANOREXIA? Anorexia Nervosa is an addiction to not eating. Anorexics see themselves as healthy, while Others see them as terribly damaged. Like an Addiction though, if helped in a timely Fashion, they overcome their condition and regain their health.
The American Psychiatric Association defines anorexia as: ••Refusal to maintain a body weight that is at or above the minimal normal weight for age and height •• Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though the person is underweight •• Denying the seriousness of having a low body weight, or having a distorted image of one’s appearance or shape
PHYSICAL SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS ••Dramatic recent weight loss unrelated to an illness •• In women, missing three consecutive menstrual periods •• No energy or complaints about feeling cold all the time •• Dry, lifeless hair; brittle nails, poor skin tone
BEHVIORAL SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS ••Strange eating habits, like restricting certain foods or drastically reducing how much food you eat. •• Excessive and/or compulsive exercising •• Complaints about being fat when obviously not •• Frequent weigh-ins and over-attention to tiny fluctuations in weight •• Always checking in the mirror for body flaws •• Excessive trips to the restroom or regular use of laxatives
SOCIAL SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS • • Pretending to eat or lying about eating • • Making excuses for not eating or for running to the bathroom • • Wearing baggy clothes to cover up gaunt appearance • • Apathy, withdrawal from social life or moodiness
This diagram shows the physical effects of anorexia, as well as some of the emotional effects.
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT When doctors screen people for anorexia, they first seek to rule out other disorders or diseases that can explain dramatic weight loss and other symptoms of anorexia. Such screening includes the following: ••a physical exam, including a physical history •• laboratory tests, such as blood tests and urinalysis •• other specialized tests, such as an electrocardiogram and an x-ray •• a psychological evaluation
Therapy Options for Treating Anorexia Cognitive behavior therapy Focuses on the thoughts about food and eating; helps the patient become more self-aware concerning food. Therapist may ask the patient to keep a food diary or journal of thoughts about food.
BEHAVIORAL COUNSELING Uses rewards and repercussions to change the behaviors of self-starvation. Teaches how to recognize triggers for refusing food and how to substitute relaxation and other coping strategies for excessive exercising or fasting.
FAMILY THERAPY Examines the family dynamics that may contribute to anorexia and often includes some therapy sessions without the anorexic patient. This is an important element when the person with anorexia denies having an eating disorder.
Allows persons with anorexia to talk in a supervised setting with other people in the same situation. Helps to reduce the isolation anorexics may feel, and group members can support each other in their quest for wellness. GROUP THERAPY
Emphasis on social and emotional conditions that can lead to low self-esteem. May include massage or relaxation exercises. OTHER TYPES OF PSYCHOTHERAPY