Eating disorders impact approximately 30 million people across the country. Presenting as symptoms of both a physical and mental illness, they must be dealt with from a multi-disciplinary approach. At Eating Disorder Solutions, we provide treatment programs which address the underlying causes of anorexia while also treating the physical symptoms and nurturing a new, healthier relationship with food.
Being one of the most common eating disorders, anorexia nervosa can lead to a variety of complications that can ultimately end in death without prompt and appropriate treatments. Learning more about this illness can help both women and men deal with this disorder for themselves or provide the knowledge to be able to recognize when a friend or family member may need to seek professional help at Eating Disorder Solutions in Dallas, Texas.
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What Is Anorexia?
Anorexia nervosa, which is often simply referred to as anorexia, is the most commonly diagnosed eating disorder in the United States and is also referred to as a mental health disorder. It is characterized by the individual’s need to control foods to a very precise and usually extreme level. It is not just under-eating. Instead, those affected by anorexia eat so little that it physically harms most if not all of their body systems, eventually leading to an early death without complete treatment.
Most people develop anorexia because they want to control their weight as well as their body shape and size. They do this by highly limiting their caloric intake. Many individuals battling anorexia may appear thin or may already have low body mass indexes, but they still have an overwhelming fear of becoming overweight. Some people struggling with anorexia eat very little while others use a variety of techniques, such as laxatives or diet aids, to deal with their perceived excessive calorie consumption.
While it may seem as if anorexia is all about decreased calorie intake, this disorder can often be traced back to mental health issues. Most clients with anorexia use these controlling behaviors because they cannot cope with certain emotional concerns. They may have very low self-esteem, or they may feel as if they do not measure up to the standards of those around them. They may also struggle to deal with negative changes in their lives. Because of the psychological basis of this disease as well as the physical repercussions it can bring, anorexia treatment must take a multi-disciplinary approach to restore eating and nutrition to better levels while also teaching women and men better emotional coping mechanisms that they can use for the rest of their lives. Although this may be a long-term problem for many people, recovery is possible with the right anorexia treatment.
How Can I Identify Signs of Anorexia Nervosa?
Perhaps you are wondering if your intense need to diet is actually anorexia nervosa. Additionally, you may be a friend or a family member of someone struggling with physical and emotional symptoms that seem as if they could be tied to an eating disorder. Understanding the usual signs and symptoms of this disease can help you recognize it in its early stages, which can then allow you to seek anorexia treatment for yourself or recommend treatment to a loved one before the disorder progresses to more severe stages.
There are three specific signs related to anorexia nervosa, all of which are normally present when this disorder is diagnosed. First, the individual usually highly restricts caloric intake, resulting in a very low body mass index based on height, weight and gender. Second, the individual is likely incredibly scared to gain weight, feeling that consuming any more calories could make them fat. Third, individuals have an emotional component to this disorder in which they feel very self-conscious about their weight and body size. Even though the individual may appear thin to others, they may not be able to recognize this themselves. In addition, individuals with anorexia nervosa typically live in denial that they have a problem.
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Common Anorexia Side Effects
These three major signs of anorexia nervosa can quickly lead to a myriad of both physical and psychological side effects that will grow increasingly worse as the disorder progresses. The most common physical side effects that demonstrate an immediate need for anorexia nervosa treatment may include the following:
- Very low body weight
- Extremely thin appearance
- Fatigue and low energy
- Fainting spells
- Poor sleep and insomnia
- Poor skin tone
- Hair loss
- Fine hair that grows across the body
- Dry, cool skin
- Low body temperature
- Heart palpitations or low heart rate
- Low blood pressure
- Low blood counts
In addition, unique emotional and psychological side effects that can be reduced and eventually eliminated with high-quality anorexia treatment may include the following:
- Preoccupation with meals and food in general
- Skipping meals
- Severe avoidance of certain foods
- Fear of eating in public
- Deception about food intake and meals around family and friends
- Fear of gaining weight or becoming fat
- Preoccupation with body appearance
- Covering the body with large or bulky clothes
- Preoccupation with exercise
- Flat mood
- Social withdrawal
- Irritability and anxiety
- Poor memory
- Decreased libido
Seeking Anorexia Treatment in Dallas, TX
Recognizing these signs and symptoms of anorexia nervosa in oneself or in a loved one indicates the need for quick and thorough anorexia treatment. This is not the time for a do-it-yourself or an at-home treatment plan. Instead, individuals must have access to complete physical and psychological care from professionals who have vast experience in dealing with this disorder if they hope for true recovery. Anorexia treatment must take a multi-disciplinary approach and will usually include the following treatment types at Eating Disorder Solutions in Dallas, TX.
- Nutritional counseling
- Family therapy
Many clients come to us for anorexia treatment when they have already reached a moderate to severe level of malnourishment. Thus, residential anorexia nervosa treatments will often begin with a focus on whole-body physical care to help the individual reach a healthy weight and to get past any life-threatening anorexia complications, such as cardiac issues. Sometimes, hospitalization under the constant care of nursing staff is used to stabilize the individual. The team will focus on healthy vital signs, proper nutrition, hydration and a rebalancing of electrolytes in the body.
Once the individual returns to a healthy weight, further anorexia treatment can commence. At this time, other forms of therapy will be engaged to promote whole body and mind health. A multi-disciplinary team will come together to create a unique care plan specifically aimed at the individual’s needs for total anorexia treatment.
Individual and group counseling can give clients a place to speak up about their feelings and their concerns about their weight and body shape. Therapy sessions can also help support normal eating patterns and give individuals a place to work through ingrained behavioral patterns. Family therapy is also important because loved ones who support the individual will need to understand how they can help with anorexia treatments and promote good health.
A nutritionist or dietitian is another important person on the anorexia treatment team at Eating Disorder Solutions. Our dietitians help create healthy eating plans that balance nutrients and give individuals the correct number of calories per day based on their gender, height and weight. By providing clients with meal and snack plans, some of the difficult decision-making process can be avoided by individuals who are still in recovery.
It is important for clients and their support networks to understand that anorexia treatment is a multi-step process that must be continued long-term. Because relapse is possible, it is important to have solid support from family and friends. However, over time, this combination of therapies can help individuals return to healthy body mass indexes, enjoy higher self-esteem, experience more positive thoughts about themselves and learn better behavioral patterns for eating.
Types of Anorexia
Although anyone struggling with anorexia have an unhealthy fixation with their weight and body image, this disorder can fall into three broad categories.
Restricting Anorexia Nervosa
This is the most commonly known type of anorexia and it refers to an eating disorder in which individuals severely limit the number of calories that they consume each day. In addition, they may limit the types of foods that they eat. They may spend a significant amount of time counting calories, may skip many meals and may be preoccupied with the amount of exercise they are getting.
Binge Eating/Purging Anorexia Nervosa
Although severely restrictive food intake is the most common type of anorexia seen, this disorder may also be accompanied by binging and purging. When binging, the individual eats a huge amount of calories in one sitting. To make up for this binge, the individual will then purge the calories from the body by vomiting or by using laxatives or enemas to pass the food quickly.
Atypical Anorexia Nervosa
With atypical anorexia, the individual has all of the typical symptoms of anorexia, such as severe calorie limits, poor nutritional health and behavioral concerns. However, their weight and BMI remain within healthy limits. Each of these types of anorexia nervosa require treatments from professionals as they all can lead to severe physical and mental side effects that can significantly affect one’s quality of life and that can threaten the continuation of life.
Who Is Affected by Anorexia?
Nearly 1 in 100 women and 3 in 1,000 men will be affected by anorexia nervosa at some point in their lives. Although it certainly appears more frequently in women than in men, family members, friends and medical practitioners should be careful never to rule out the need for anorexia treatments for men who are displaying the signs and symptoms of the disorder. People with certain interests and those in certain professions are more likely than others to develop this disorder. In particular, this is true for the following individuals.
Each of these people face constant pressure to maintain a certain weight, body shape or appearance. In addition, those with anorexia usually display perfectionistic personalities. They may be seen as overachievers in other areas of their life, such as school or work. They may also experience anxiety. Typically, anorexia nervosa begins early in life, with many individuals beginning down this path in puberty. However, it can develop at any time in life, and adults are still afflicted in high numbers whether or not they were diagnosed at a younger age. Thankfully, anorexia treatments in Dallas are recommended and life-changing at any age.
What are the Most Common Anorexia Causes?
To this day, it is not known exactly why some people develop anorexia nervosa and others do not. Scientists and doctors usually believe that it is due to a variety of factors that combine to create the physical and psychological side effects of the disease. Biologically, it is thought that certain genes may put men and women at risk for developing anorexia. It appears that some people are predisposed to it, such as those who are already predisposed to anxiety or perfectionism. In fact, up to 80 percent of anorexia cases may be traced back to genetics. Additionally, some studies have shown that a hormonal imbalance could be partly to blame.
That perfectionism can also help cause the psychological side of anorexia, giving individuals obsessive-compulsive traits that allow them to follow incredibly restrictive diets. Psychologically, these individuals may also have certain mood disorders, such as depression or social phobias. This is the case with up to 50 percent of people living with these conditions. Of course, the desire in Western cultures for extreme thinness can also be partly to blame in many cases. Very thin men and women continue to be featured on fashion runways, on television, in advertisements, magazines and other printed media. Individuals believing that they have to be thin to fit into modern society are certainly predisposed to anorexia nervosa. Other environmental factors that may help cause this disorder include bullying, physical or sexual abuse and relationship problems. Thankfully, the multi-disciplinary aspect of anorexia treatment at Eating Disorder Solutions can address each of these very real concerns.
Diagnosis and Anorexia Treatment at Eating Disorder Solutions
The need for anorexia treatment may first be noticed by oneself, but is more often noticed by a close loved one or by a medical practitioner during a routine checkup. A diagnosis of this disorder relies on several types of examinations, which will nearly always begin with a physical checkup. A doctor will measure the individual’s height and weight, using these numbers to plot the body mass index. A complete checkup will also include an examination of the heart, lungs, abdomen, pulse, skin and vital signs. These results alone may show an overwhelming need for prompt anorexia treatment.
However, a complete diagnosis will include other solid numbers and black-and-white evidence from blood tests, X-rays, EKGs and other diagnostic tools. A doctor will order a complete blood count as well as specific blood tests to check on the health of the liver, kidneys and thyroid gland. X-rays can show possible osteoporosis or broken bones that may be present in more advanced stages of anorexia while an EKG can show heart rhythm or rate abnormalities.
The Impact of Anorexia Nervosa if Left Untreated
If you or someone you know is struggling with anorexia, you need to seek treatment. If left untreated, anorexia nervosa can have lasting complications. And with each new stage of anorexia, the consequences become worse. As with all serious diseases and disorders, anorexia is devastating, and without proper treatment, you’ll notice a steep decline in quality of life. Without a proper diet, your body is deprived of necessary nutrients, deteriorating your muscles and leaving you energyless. Alongside severe weight loss, your body is susceptible to multiorgan failure, heart damage, and continual mental health decline, such as depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Long-term effects of anorexia nervosa can also include lasting infertility as well as permanent bone brittleness or osteoporosis. Additionally, this disorder is known to create tension between you and your family and friends, often destroying relationships and leaving those affected even more vulnerable. Eventually, the long-term effects of anorexia can build to the point where your mortality rate increases drastically.
If left untreated for too long, anorexia can lead to death. In addition to already having high rates of suicide, anorexia nervosa has the highest fatality rate among all mental health disorders. Yes, it’s that serious. However, you don’t have to let anorexia, or the long-term effects of anorexia, define you. Although overcoming anorexia isn’t easy, it definitely isn’t unbeatable. With enough support and the right treatment, this disorder is overcomeable. You can fight it and you can win.
Get Help Starting with Anorexia Treatment Today
Once a diagnosis is made, anorexia treatment should begin immediately. Without thorough treatments, anorexia complications can be severe and life-threatening. At Eating Disorder Solutions, we offer comprehensive care plans designed around your personal needs. We understand that every person comes from a specific background and arrives here with unique emotional concerns and physical needs. Our solutions will target every aspect of anorexia while relying on proven long-term treatment techniques. We also know that seeking treatment for anorexia nervosa takes a lot of courage, and understand this can be a scary step to take. Which is why we are here to help every step along the way, from the initial diagnosis, insurance coverage, treatment planning and the intake process. Get all your questions answered about the road to recovery with Eating Disorder Solutions intake and admissions guide.
Our anorexia treatment center provides individualized support and treatment, catered specifically to you. You can experience clinically supervised monitoring and hands-on care from experienced physicians and health care personnel along with complete mental health support through our residential treatment plans. Because long-term care is vital to a lifetime of health, our intensive outpatient treatment options help you stay on your newly healthy nutritional and psychological path without fear of relapse. Plus, you will experience amazing support from our community of health care professionals, dietitians and clients. If you are ready to change your life, choose Eating Disorder Solutions in Dallas, Texas, today for proven anorexia treatments. Call now to begin the recovery process.