Anorexia nervosa is a type of eating disorder that is characterized by weight loss (or lack of needed weight gain in children). There are different types of eating disorders people suffer from around the world today. At least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the United States.
One in five anorexia deaths are by suicide. 50 to 80 percent of the risk for anorexia is genetic. 33 to 50 percent of anorexia patients suffer from comorbid mood disorders, like depression and anxiety. These mood disorders are more common with a binging and purging type of eating disorder, rather than a restrictive one.
Nearly half of all Americans know at least one person who suffers from an eating disorder. An estimated 10 to 15 percent of people with bulimia are males. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of mental health disorders.
Five to ten percent of anorexics die within ten years of developing this disease. 18 to 20 percent die after twenty years, leaving the remaining 30 to 40 percent fully recovered. Anorexia is very common in young adults and is the third most common mental illness within that age group.
95 percent of people suffering from an eating disorder range from 12-25 years old. 50 percent of children between 11 and 13 with an eating disorder see themselves as overweight. Eating disorders can affect any race — it is seen in countries all over the world. In Japan, it is the leading psychological disorder in young women.
Symptoms to look out for include:
- Dramatic weight loss
- Wearing clothing that is much larger than the person
- Obsessing about caloric intake
- Having food rituals
- Constantly saying that they are not hungry
- Refusing to eat certain foods
- Has an excessive/rigid exercise regimen despite any obstacle
- Obsessing over nutrition facts
- Constantly thinks they are fat or overweight despite dramatic weight loss
- Has paralyzing fear about gaining weight even if it’s a couple of pounds
- Post puberty loss of menstrual period
- Depicts controlling behavior
- Doesn’t like eating in public
- Lack of concentration
- Irregularities in sleep patterns
- Low blood pressure
- Low heart rate
- Feels dizzy or has fainting spells
- Dry skin and dry brittle nails/hair
- Muscle weakness
- Problems in development
- Dental problems like enamel erosion, cavities, and tooth sensitivity
Having anorexia nervosa is directly correlated to having distortions in cognition. These thoughts are typically exaggerated thoughts or thought patterns. They are sometimes referred to as dysfunctional, negative, or automatic. These distortions affect weight, food intake, body image, and are the core symptom of both anorexia and bulimia.
Most people who suffer from these disorders experience this, which can ultimately lead to disorder behaviors. Different patterns of problematic thoughts are commonly experienced by people with these eating disorders. Recognizing, challenging, and changing the negative thought patterns is one of the main components of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Individuals who have this disorder commonly have the expectation of being perfect.
Constantly striving for perfection is normal to them, and they believe that to attain perfection, they have to look a certain way. There lies a system that cycles between regret and perfection. A major need for control with a lot of restrictions attached to it is present.
Black-and-white thinking is another common way of looking at situations for these individuals, which is a way of thinking that causes specific rules and regulations that one feels they must adhere to. In a way, you are almost set up to fail every time.
If you don’t adhere to certain rigid “rules,” you might feel you will never achieve success, or believe it means something about you and your character. This “failure” is also followed by punishment. People who suffer from this tend to punish themselves for eating something that was not in the bounds of their restrictive diet plan.
Another common idea is overgeneralizing, which leads to people explaining their life as if it is determined by one single action that is deemed incorrect or unfavorable. It can become very dramatic very quickly. Another example is catastrophizing. This type of thinking is dramatic and intense.
It makes you feel like there is absolutely no way out and that whatever you are going through is the worst thing you have ever gone through in your life. This thinking is characterized by associating your weight specifically with your self-esteem and pride.
You may think that if you could achieve a specific weight, people would like you more or think highly of you — or that people treat you poorly or think less of you because you are not good enough, based on your weight. This thought pattern also dominates your caloric intake.
If you eat one apple, you think it is going to cause your weight to rise fast. Labeling can affect one’s emotional state very negatively. Negative self-talk can keep you in a bad mental state. Eating disorders can seem tough to combat, since you have to eat to stay alive — you can’t abstain from food.
Psychotherapy is always the go-to in this situation. If the person’s disorder is dire, taking them to a hospital or rehab may be necessary. There are plenty of support groups you can go to that will help with getting you back on track. Those support groups are filled with people who share the same struggles as you.
Avalon Malibu takes eating disorders very seriously. If you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, contact us today at (844) 857-5992. Our team of professionals and nutritionists are highly trained and experienced to help you in your journey to recovery. They understand what the core issues are and can provide tools to help.