Anorexia Nervosa: What is it?
Anorexia Nervosa, as it has been established to be called within the scientific community, is a severe eating disorder that affects one’s physical as well as psychological and mental health. Anorexia Nervosa has the first place as far as death due to psychiatric diseases is concerned. It is assumed that more frequently, it afflicts teenager girls, at a rate of 20 to 1. It is estimated that the 4% of the population has experienced Anorexia Nervosa at least once in their lifetime.
Anorexia Nervosa: Which are its causes?
Eating disorders have genetic, biological and environmental background. In the case of Anorexia Nervosa, it is the genetic features of one’s personality.
Those suffering from this disorder are immensely concerned with their weight and body image. In order to avoid the slightest weight gain or keep losing weight, they severely restrict the amount of food they consume. Therefore, they eat solely “safe” food, i.e. those that are low in calories and fat, that is, 600 to 800 calories per day. They may control their calorie intake by vomiting after their meal or by overusing laxatives, food supplements, diuretics or even enemas.
Moreover, they may try to lose weight through exhaustive exercise or in extreme cases, denying to eat or telling lies about how much they have eaten. Their meal has a ritual character, such as cutting down the food into small pieces or spitting it after chewing. They do not like eating in public areas and the symptoms of their disorder are both physical and psychological.
Psychological causes include bullying, abuse or a traumatic experience that determines their later life.
Environmental causes refer to the contemporary west lifestyle that supports and fosters the image of a slim, fit person.
Family may also reinforce this pattern with its way of thinking concerning eating and physical development. Furthermore, children of Middle East or Asian families who live in England have developed eating disorders once they were exposed to the new values. In their countries, the percentage of Anorexia Nervosa cases is nearly zero, so that is the reason why it has been characterized as lifestyle disease.
It is of high importance that each cause should be investigated, subsequent to serious diseases, such as malignancy, autoimmune diseases, etc.
Anorexia Nervosa: Which are its symptoms?
Physical symptoms include: excessive weakness (15% below normal body weight), fatigue, amenorrhea for at least 3 cycles in girls or women with a normal menstruation in the past, dizziness or fainting, hypotension, intolerance to cold, hyperthyroidism, decreased bone density that increases the risk of fractures, swollen joints, cyanosis of the fingers, dehydration, pituitary hyperfunction, decreased gastric emptying, constipation and increased enzymes.
Additionally, abdominal bloating, kidney problems, hair that thins, breaks or falls out, dry skin, dermatitis, acne, petechiae, recurrence of childhood fuzz, increased dental caries for no reason, drugs abuse and other psychotropic medications.
Psychological symptoms include: person’s refusal that there is a problem, difficulties in socializing, very low concentration, anxiety, irritability, depression, no change in psychological mood, lack of emotions, low self-esteem, a constant need to have control of both themselves and the situations, obsessive-compulsive neurosis, schizophrenia, decreased libido.
A person suffering from Anorexia Nervosa is seriously undernourished. Each body organ may be damaged in an irreversible way, even in case the disease is under control.
Anorexia Nervosa: Could it cause even death?
If Anorexia Nervosa is not tamed, death could occur out of the blue, even when someone is not severely underweight. This could happen due to abnormal heart rate or the imbalance of electrolytes such as potassium, sodium and calcium that maintain the balance of the fluids in the body.
The exact cause is unknown, it probably has to do with a combination of biological, psychological and environmental factors, while it is assumed that the disease has an inheritance rate ranging from 56% to 84%, without knowing exactly which genes are involved. There may also be a genetic tendency to perfectionism, sensitivity and persistence, features attributed to Anorexia Nervosa. Except for genetic factors, there are also biological causes, such as zinc deficiency, the presence of autoantibodies instead of neuropeptides, imbalance of leptin and ghrelin levels as well as serotonin dysfunction.
Anorexia Nervosa: Treatment and Therapy
Very often, patients with Anorexia Nervosa need multifaceted treatment that may require the cooperation of many medical specialties as well as hospitalization.
In case the immediate medical complications of Anorexia Nervosa that put patient’s life at risk are addressed, such as the restoration of heart rate, electrolytes and hydration, even with compulsory feeding with nasogastric tube, weight restoration treatments should follow
The patient who suffers from Anorexia Nervosa will need help from a professional of mental health, a dietician and also from their own family. It is important that the patient consumes foods that stimulate appetite, such as sugar-rich foods, aniseed, herbs, garlic, cardamom, pepper, cloves and ginger.
Anorexia Nervosa and Medical Acupuncture
Medical Acupuncture can help to a great degree, restoring the psychological and physical balance as well as the kilos recovery, so as one can eventually obtain a healthy body weight. The patient, with the help of Medical Acupuncture, banishes all negative thoughts in the view of food and regains their self-confidence and calmness.
The effect of Medical Acupuncture – once performed by a specialized Doctor-Acupuncturist– is based on the stimulation of the nervous and endocrine system. Also, it induces the production of substances, such as serotonin, noradrenalin and dopamine, all of them contributing to the regulation of the balance between the body’s systems, modifying the brain chemistry and calming down the nervous system. The patient’s metabolism is unlocked to acquire the necessary weight and achieve the desired balance.
This is achieved by the painless insertion of fine needles at the Acupuncture points of anti-stress, so relaxation, change of mood and euphoria of the patient is possible.