What is anorexia, why and who gets it? Signs, symptoms, stages of the disease, treatment. Anorexia nervosa is a disorder of the region of the brain responsible for appetite. It is characterized by a persistent reluctance to eat, which leads to significant weight loss, general weakness of the body. In very severe cases, it is fatal.
What is anorexia?
Anorexia is a disease associated with the forced refusal of food, when a person loses weight unnaturally. This condition can occur due to intense anxiety or pain. These are physiological factors that cause disease.
The neuropsychic type of anorexia is associated with a voluntary refusal to eat. This is contrary to human nature. To live, any living organism needs an influx of energy. For a person, this is food, it gives him the necessary strength, which allows him to maintain his physical and mental health in good condition.
If the body systematically lacks the substances it needs, it ceases to function normally, and dystrophy sets in. The consequences of obvious exhaustion of the body (cachexia) are slow heart function, low blood pressure and body temperature, and bluish fingers.
The person looks like a literally living corpse. When ribs show through the skin, arms and legs look like blades of grass, movement is difficult. Sparse hair on the skull, deep sunken eyes on the face. All internal organs atrophy, the normal functioning of the nervous system and psyche is disrupted. Decreases libido, reproductive function fades away, the body gradually stops its activity.
There are many cases in history when people died because there was nothing to eat. For example, in besieged Leningrad (September 8, 1941 - January 27, 1944) hundreds of thousands of civilians died from mass starvation. But it turns out that there are individuals who voluntarily condemn themselves to hunger. And all because of the false idea that an overly thin figure is fashionable.
Unfortunately, fashion is not only an engine of progress, but also an example of great human delusions. Confirmation is anorexia. This neuropsychiatric illness is the opposite of the other extreme, excessive overeating (bulimia).
The prevailing opinion in society is that excessive weight is bad. People, especially public ones, are trying to get rid of extra pounds. But excessive thinness, achieved by artificial fasting, is not the best option for a figure, let alone health. Everything is good in moderation. And when it is not there, the nervous system and the human psyche suffer from various health-improving diets.
It is not only social reasons (the demand for skinny women) that lead to anorexia. Biological (genetics) and medical problems may be involved. Let's say problems with the gastrointestinal tract, when, for various reasons, the body rejects food. It is also necessary to take into account the peculiar features of the person who decided to live his life in a hungry mode.
The consequences of anorexia are very sad. This is completely destroyed health and often premature death in the prime of life. A fifth of the patients die due to heart failure, and many commit suicide due to mental disorders.
Patients with anorexia sequentially go through three stages of their illness: from mild to severe condition. Let's take a closer look at how this happens.
The stages of anorexia are as follows:
- Dissatisfaction with yourself… She (he) is unhappy with her appearance: the figure is too fat, the face and lips are plump. “Well, no zest in the physique! You need to go on a diet. "Finding the right diet can take several years.
- Starvation… At this stage, all thoughts are only about not eating too much. A forced hunger strike leads to dramatic weight loss. Weight loss is obvious, along with it, the first signs of a neuropsychiatric illness appear.
- Depletion… When half or more body weight is lost. Pathological changes occur in all internal organs. The stomach cannot take food, reacts to it with vomiting. The patient is already on the verge of death.
Anorexia nervosa can be cured even at the very last stage. The main thing is to realize your illness in time and consult a doctor.
It's important to know! Anorexia can be called a fashion disease these days. People who strive to live up to ridiculous fashion standards put their lives in grave danger.
Who is affected by anorexia?
Women are especially susceptible to anorexia; it develops in every hundredth female. Men also fall for this lousy "bait". In children, the disease is associated with poor appetite. Many adolescent girls are gripped by a weight loss mania. For some of them, this passion ends in illness.
Everyone knows the look of emaciated girls to the limit. Such people often appear on television. More than 70% of the representatives of the modeling business suffer from exhaustion. Sometimes it seems that they only by an effort of will wander along the catwalk, hiding their match-legs behind chic outfits.
Anorexia as a disease has been known since ancient times. In ancient Greece, girls had to correspond to the then accepted standard of beauty. It is a graceful, flexible figure. This criterion of beauty forced fatties to go on a strict diet. Severe hunger strikes associated with religious fasts also led to forced weight loss.
The cause of anorexia these days is the "squeak" of fashion, which appeared in the middle of the last century. It all started with the British supermodel and singer Leslie Hornby, better known as Twiggy (reed). Her slender figure has become the envy of many girls. Models on the catwalk began to imitate her and "sat down" on various starvation diets in order to lose their weight. This voluntary refusal of food, which led not only to weight loss, but to dire consequences, doctors gave the name "anorexia" (lack of appetite).
"Twiggy's Syndrome" quickly swept across the world. For example, the "well-wisher" advised the American Rene Heinrich to lose weight. Allegedly too fat to do gymnastics. The girl took the advice seriously. Obsessed with a mania to lose weight, she reacted irresponsibly to her health and fell ill with anorexia. This led to irreversible changes in the body, when the doctors were already powerless. The gymnast died at the age of 22.
Scottish singer, TV presenter Lena Hilda Zavaroni died of anorexia nervosa at the age of 35. Before her death, she weighed only 32 kg. Two model sisters from Uruguay, Lucel Ramos (22 years old) and Eliana Ramos (18 years old), died of exhaustion next to each other. It happened in 2006-2007.
Men also suffer from anorexia nervosa. Handsome Jeremy Glitzer made a rather successful career on the podium, but, having decided to lose weight, brought himself to complete physical exhaustion. At 38, he weighed only 30 kg, died of exhaustion in 2010.
It's important to know! Overdose of certain medications can also lead to anorexia.
The main causes of anorexia
If a person decided to lose weight, went on a diet and, as a result, lost his "fat" kilograms, this is quite normal. But when the hunger strike has become an obsessive desire, there is already a reason to talk about the disease. All signs of anorexia should be divided into medical and psychological indicators.
Biological causes of anorexia
Biological signs of the disease indicate that a person does not consciously, but involuntarily refuses to eat.This is due to the painful processes that occur in his body.
Such unfavorable factors of a biological nature include:
- Genetic abnormalities… Mutation of genes responsible for cholesterol content can provoke anorexia. Scientists recently noticed that people who are malnourished have high blood levels of this steroid. The conclusion is paradoxical: refusal to eat leads to an increased mood.
- Diseases of the gastrointestinal tract… With esophageal and liver disease, when there is a persistent aversion to food, significant weight loss (anorexia) can be a harbinger of stomach cancer, hepatitis, or jaundice.
- Heart failure… Cardiac glycosides (herbal medicines), in reasonable doses, improve heart function. Overdose leads to cardiac depression. Against this background, anorexia may develop.
- Other diseases… They include kidney disease, when, due to improper metabolic processes, protein accumulates in them, and is not excreted along with urine. Pulmonary insufficiency, various diseases of the endocrine system, malignant tumors, diseases of the oral cavity (hard to eat) can also lead to the development of anorexia.
- Drug overdose… Antidepressants, tranquilizers, narcotic drugs and some others depress the central nervous system. Systematic use causes a persistent lack of appetite. Against this background, a neuropsychiatric illness develops, associated with refusal to eat.
It's important to know! The biological signs of anorexia speak of painful processes in the body, they are subject to treatment.
Psychological causes of anorexia
Psychological reasons are associated with the nature of the person, his individual traits. This should also include the social factor, when the opinion that a thin person is better than having extra pounds has a negative impact on some people.
These psychological factors include:
- Hyper-care in childhood… Parents care too much about their children, literally feed them. For example, the girl ate a lot of sweets, became fat and clumsy. Peers laugh at her. The child begins to consciously refuse food, as a result, anorexia may develop.
- Teenage years… When the girl's figure begins to take on feminine forms, and the boy's - masculine, adolescents pay great attention to their appearance. And it hurts to accept all the comments on this score. The thought that “I am not the same (oh) as others, they laugh at my figure” leads to painful experiences. Girls of curvaceous forms at this age often resort to starvation in order to bring themselves back to normal. Extremes of hungry diets help to lose weight dramatically, and illness sets in.
- Stress… When, due to strong experiences associated, for example, with unjustified hopes or the death of a loved one, a person is ready to die, and therefore refuses food.
- Traits… The personality can be strong-willed, but the will is directed towards false priorities. Let's say to lose weight and be like a famous Hollywood star. Such stubbornness makes you refuse food, which leads to illness.
- Low self-esteem… The feeling of inferiority, when a person is quite critical of himself, is engaged in self-digging, believes that the physique is too heavy, pushes for self-medication. These are different kinds of diets, as a result of which not only weight is lost, but also health, anorexia develops.
- A family… Parents love to eat and look quite plump. The child is also very "immodest" build. This leaves an imprint on the character. Anxious and suspicious individuals often resort to severe fasting in such cases. This is a direct path to exhaustion and mental illness.
- Dependence on public opinion… It especially affects public people.For example, actresses, singers and runway models. They watch their figure and are especially susceptible to criticism that they do not look very elegant for their profession. It is among them that most of all suffer from anorexia nervosa, which is often fatal.
It's important to know! The psychological factors behind anorexia are often difficult to correct.
How do the symptoms of anorexia appear?
Symptoms of anorexia manifest themselves both on a physiological level, such as wasting, and on a psychological (behavioral) level. Let's consider all these external signs in more detail.
Physiological symptoms include changes in the body. Some are immediately striking, others are determined only during special medical examinations. These include:
- Extreme exhaustion… When there is significant weight loss, it can be below normal by up to 50%. The patient looks like just a walking skeleton.
- General weakness… It is difficult to move, movements are slow, shortness of breath, frequent fainting, feeling of cold. This is due to interruptions in the work of the heart and poor circulation.
- Thinning hair… Body hair becomes thinner, becomes brittle, falls out on the head.
- Changes in the genital area… Women have problems with menstruation up to its complete absence (amenorrhea), men - with an erection. As a consequence, a decrease in libido or a complete rejection of intimacy.
- Drug addiction, alcoholism… Due to excessive intensification of the body with drugs, alcohol or drugs, appetite is disturbed, the patient refuses to eat and brings himself to an extreme degree of exhaustion. As a result, anorexia develops with extremely serious consequences.
The psychological symptoms of anorexia are associated primarily with the nature of the personality, as well as changes in behavior. Let's consider these painful manifestations of the psyche in more detail. These include:
- Depression… It is characterized by a depressed state when only one negative is seen around. The person believes that he has lost control over his actions, goes into experiences, for example, "I have too much weight, I need to lose weight." Such obsession leads to a neuropsychic disease - anorexia.
- Manic thought about losing weight… A person is simply obsessed with the desire to lose weight in any way. Counts calories in food, just not to overeat. Reasonable reason is not taken into account. For months he sits on a starvation diet, bringing himself to complete exhaustion. As a result, he loses weight, becomes dystrophic.
- Refusal to eat… When, under any pretext, they shy away from food, they say, I'm already full, I don't want it anymore. If a person has eaten, he feels guilty that he could not refuse.
- Casual clothes… To hide their unnatural thinness, patients with anorexia wear loose-fitting suits and dresses.
- Straightforward thinking… Such people do not want to see anything around them, they are not interested in everything. The whole world has narrowed down to just one problem, how to lose weight.
- Secluded lifestyle… When the disease is neglected and there are big health problems, such people become secretive, uncommunicative. But even in this state, they do not consider themselves sick.
It's important to know! Skinny, see through, were considered until recently "chic" in the modeling business. However, the fashion for them is passing, in contrast to such "matches" now on the catwalk fat women are often "lit".
How to treat exhaustion
The treatment process for anorexia nervosa can take several months. In severe cases, the patient is admitted to a hospital. A whole range of medical and physiotherapeutic methods of treatment is needed here. The main thing at this stage is for health to fully recover, which means eliminating the consequences of hungry diets and disturbances in the work of internal organs.
For example, you need to support the heart, liver, kidneys. The patient, in fact, needs to be re-taught to eat.To do this, it is necessary to conduct a general strengthening course to fully restore the work of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). If the patient cannot eat normally, the necessary nutrients are injected intravenously, bypassing the stomach. When the gastrointestinal tract is working normally, a high-calorie table is prescribed so that the patient can gain the desired weight.
Treatment of anorexia is impossible without psychotherapeutic help. It is necessary to adjust the views and behavior of the patient. You need to help him get rid of his obsessive state. Let's say he considers himself inferior because he is a bad figure. In this case, you should correct the misperception of your body. This is one of the main conditions that after being discharged from the hospital, a person will not return to "his own tracks", that is, he will not slide back to the old "hungry" life. Here is an important role of family therapy, when in the family circle a person will feel support and full understanding.
Full recovery occurs only in those who have realized their pernicious passion for all kinds of hungry diets. Otherwise, relapses of the disease are possible.
How to treat anorexia - watch the video:
Anorexia nervosa is a disease that a person voluntarily attracts to himself. And all because of a false understanding of their value in this world. Not a minimum of kilograms of live weight determines the essence of a person, but his good deeds. For the benefit of yourself and others. Obsession with their appearance, their "extra" body contours make a person a slave to a pernicious passion - a hungry diet. And this is a direct path to mortal exhaustion and early departure of their lives. Accept yourself for who you really are. And be healthy and happy!