Anorexia nervosa is a very serious and potentially life-threatening mental health disorder in which a person is entirely preoccupied with body weight and a fear of fatness which can be described as a phobia.The anorexic person will seek to achieve a low weight through self-starvation and excessive weight loss.
According to the DSM-5 criteria, to be diagnosed as having Anorexia Nervosa a person must display:
- Persistent restriction of energy intake leading to significantly low body weight (in context of what is minimally expected for age, sex, developmental trajectory, and physical health).
- Either an intense fear of gaining weight or of becoming fat, or persistent behaviour that interferes with weight gain (even though significantly low weight).
- Disturbance in the way one’s body weight or shape is experienced, undue influence of body shape and weight on self-evaluation, or persistent lack of recognition of the seriousness of the current low body weight.
How you may experience anorexia (symptoms)
- Deliberately eating under the recommended daily calorie intake leading to severe or dramatic weight loss.
- Being obsessed with calories, food and all or any topic related to food.
- Being terrified of gaining weight, doing anything you can to avoid weight gain
- Very poor body image body image.
- Extremely low self-esteem.
- Inability to appreciate the severity of the situation or a sense of powerlessness to do anything about it.
EEDOS aim to help those suffering from Anorexia Nervosa to gain a healthier relationship with food.
Things to look out for (Warning Signs)
- Severe weight loss.
- Obsession with dieting, fasting and any dramatic weight loss method.
- Refusal to eat certain foods, or even whole food categories (e.g. no carbohydrates, no dairy, suddenly becoming vegan etc.).
- Distress about being “fat” or overweight despite being under weight.
- Fear of gaining weight or being “fat.”
- Denial of hunger.
- Development of food rituals (e.g. eating foods in certain orders, excessive chewing, rearranging food on a plate).
- Consistent excuses to avoid mealtimes or situations involving food.
- Excessive, rigid exercise regimen–despite weather, fatigue, illness, or injury, the need to “burn off” calories taken in.
- Withdrawal from usual friends and activities.
- In general, behaviours and attitudes indicating that weight loss, dieting, and control of food are becoming primary concerns.
Consequences and complications
- Slow heart rate and low blood pressure, which mean that the heart muscle is changing. The risk for heart failure rises as heart rate and blood pressure levels sink lower and lower.
- Gastrointestinal symptoms, constipation, bloating.
- Hormonal problems, loss of menstruation, regression of ovaries and testes.
- Lowered immunity and anaemia.
- Reduction of bone density (osteoporosis), which results in dry, brittle bones.
- Muscle loss and weakness.
- Severe dehydration, which can result in kidney failure.
- Fainting, fatigue, and overall weakness.
- Dry hair and skin, hair loss is common.
- Growth of a downy layer of hair called lanugo all over the body, including the face, in an effort to keep the body warm.
- Intense depression