The Truth About Anorexia Nervosa

The Truth About Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is one of the most common eating disorders, causing people to see themselves as overweight even when far from it. People with anorexia nervosa often become obsessed with weight control. They either purge, binge eat, starve themselves, or become obsessive about exercising. Anorexia can also involve highly disturbed eating behavior, including the misuse of diuretics, diet pills, and laxatives.

Despite how common it is, many people still do not fully understand what anorexia is all about. Below are some common misconceptions about the condition.

People With Anorexia Are Dangerously Thin

There is some truth to this statement. Anorexic people are often dangerously thin because they fail to eat. However, it also does not mean that all thin people suffer from anorexia nervosa. Various conditions can cause weight loss. Therefore, unless a person displays symptoms of anorexia, their weight cannot be used to categorize them as anorexic.

Additionally, some anorexic people are not dangerously thin. Doctors may diagnose someone with atypical or subclinical anorexia. This is when the person has significant symptoms of anorexia but is not yet underweight. This misconception about anorexia causes people who suffer from the condition but do not experience drastic weight loss to go undiagnosed and untreated.

People With Anorexia Do Not Eat

People struggling with anorexia may deny their hunger and not eat or drink. They also experience an intense fear of gaining weight. However, the condition is less about food but a person’s physical and mental health.

Other than starvation, some anorexic people indulge in binge eating, which is often followed by purging by vomiting. Some also exercise excessively to burn the calories from eating or take diet pills and laxatives. Therefore, starvation is not the only warning sign for anorexia nervosa. It would help if you also looked out for unhealthy behavior with food.

Men Do Not Suffer From The Condition

Many people also think that anorexia nervosa only affects women. However, this is far from the truth. The truth is that people of all ages, racial backgrounds, and gender identities can develop anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders. It is also true that the condition is prevalent but not exclusive to females.

Anorexia is a Choice or a Cry for Attention

This is by far the most dangerous misconception about this eating disorder. Anorexia nervosa is in no way a choice or cry for attention. It is a severe physical and mental health condition with unique risk factors. Mental health conditions like depression and anxiety can play a role in developing anorexia nervosa. The condition is also associated with one’s perception of their body.

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Anorexia nervosa is such a severe condition that organizations like the National Institute of Mental health explain that people with the illness are ten times more likely to succumb to it compared with other mental health disorders. Starvation causes cardiac arrest, organ failure, and other severe medical conditions. The negative perception of one’s body can also lead to suicide among anorexic people.

The Condition Is A Phase That Can Be Outgrown

Anorexia nervosa is not a phase that can be outgrown. It is a severe illness that requires treatment. Unfortunately, the treatment also does not work instantly. It takes a lot of time and effort to overcome anorexia nervosa.

Treatment Options For Anorexia Nervosa

Before recommending a treatment plan, doctors use various techniques to diagnose anorexia. They include physical exams, lab tests, and psychological evaluations. Mental health practitioners, dieticians, and physicians work together to develop treatment plans for anorexia nervosa. Treatments may include medications for medical conditions caused by starvation, nutrition studies, healthy weight restoration plans, and counseling for underlying mental health conditions. Psychotherapy and medication are the most common treatments for anorexia nervosa.

Final Word

Understanding the truth about anorexia nervosa can save lives by helping you know the warning signs for the illness. It can also help encourage people to seek treatment for the condition. Often, anorexic people do not seek help unless their family or loved ones make the first step. Treatment can also be hindered by denial, fear of weight gain, and misconceptions.