What is Anorexia?
The term is often used interchangeably with anorexia nervosa which refers to an eating disorder. It is characterized by a refusal to maintain a healthy body weight, and an obsessive fear of gaining weight. The fear arises from a distorted self-image.
Anorexia usually begins in young people around the onset of puberty, generally affecting adolescent girls. Weight loss arises from excessive exercise, intake of laxatives, and not eating. Anorexics have an intense fear of becoming fat.
Symptoms of Anorexia
There are various symptoms associated with anorexia nervosa. They include irregular menstrual periods in women, hating or refusing to eat in public, anxiety, weakness, brittle skin, shortness of breath, and an obsession with calorie intake.
Certain medical consequences and risks of anorexia are shrunken bones, mineral loss, low body temperature, irregular heartbeat, permanent failure of normal growth, development of osteoporosis, and bulimia.
Bulimia is an eating disorder in which a person binges and purges. The person may eat large amounts of food at once and then try to get rid of the food by vomiting, using laxatives, or through over-exercising.
Treatment for Anorexia
The treatment for anorexia nervosa includes psychotherapy, support groups, medication and hospitalization, anti-depressant drug therapy for depression, and cognitive behavioral therapy.
Treatment involving support groups provides anorexics and their families with mutual support and advice on how to cope with the disorder.
Hospital treatment is required to stop weight loss, binging, and vomiting while promoting weight gain. Hospital stays also addresses other serious psychological problems like severe depression, suicidal behavior, self-destructive behavior, or substance abuse.
Olanzapine (zyprexia, zydis) and other medications in this class may finally be the drug that helps reduce the number of people suffering from anorexia.
Once weight has been regained, the anti-depressant fluoxetine may significantly reduce the risk of relapse if used as part of the treatment.
Some of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs: anti-depressants) have proven helpful in maintaining weight and controlling mood and anxiety symptoms related to anorexia.
Individual, family, marital, and group therapy treatments have often been successful in treating anorexia nervosa
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