Nervous System

Anorexia and Bulimia

Anorexia nervosa—often simply called anorexia—is an eating disorder that occurs when a person sticks to a diet, or refrains from eating till the body weight becomes 15% lower than optimal. It is characterized by an intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of weight. People with anorexia place a high value on controlling their weight and shape, using extreme efforts that tend to significantly interfere with their lives.
Bulimia nervosa, commonly called bulimia, is an excessive desire for eating. People with bulimia may eat large amounts of food with a loss of control over the eating, and then trying to get rid of the food by self-inducing vomiting or misusing laxatives. The onset of both anorexia and bulimia usually occurs in mid-adolescence.
Around 90% of people with anorexia are women, and about 0.7% of women in the United States, for example, have this condition.
Bulimia is far more common, though. A study conducted on female high-school and university students suggests that 4.5%-18% of them suffer bulimia.
Like many other psychological disorders, anorexia and bulimia are likely to be associated with genetic reasons. This justifies why they are common in certain families.
Anorexia and bulimia may trigger several serious complications, hormonal and menstrual disorders, osteoporosis, and unbalanced blood minerals, potentially causing an acute, even life-threatening, cardiac disorders.
People with anorexia begin with eliminating some foods from their meals, and then drop some of the meals. Sometimes, they become obsessed with excessive exercise, and perceive themselves as fat, whereas in reality they are thin. They may also oscillate between excessive eating and no eating at all. The menstrual cycle may stop.
As their body weight significantly decreases, their health condition deteriorates, their faces become pale and yellowish, among some other symptoms such as pounding nails, hair loss, constipation, anemia, swelling of the joints, continuous sense of coldness, non-healing sores, and difficulty concentrating and thinking.
People with bulimia dread gaining weight, too. Contrary to people with anorexia, though, they often realize that their behavior is abnormal, and may get depressed after a heavy meal. The health consequences may be adverse; they include fatigue, exhaustion, constipation, gas, swelling in the salivary glands, erosion of tooth enamel, sore throat as a result of vomiting. The overuse of laxatives may cause the loss of significant amount of fluid and minerals.
The earlier the treatment of anorexia or bulimia, the more effective it is. If you suspect you or someone you know suffers either disorder, seek medical assistance as soon as possible. The doctor may recommend immediate hospitalization if the body weight is over 30% lower than the optimal weight.
Cognitive therapy: aims to convince the patients that their perception of their body weight is not accurate, and that their pursuit of losing weight is illogical. The interpersonal behavioral therapy involves improving the patient’s communication skills, and encouraging them to gain weight, or even awarding them if they manage to gain weight.
Family-based treatment: is important to help families understand the disease. Medicines may be prescribed for those suffering depression or compulsive habits. Families can play a positive role in convincing the tanagers suffering either case to respond to the medical advice, especially given that many female adolescents suffer either anorexia or bulimia. 

Last Update : 15 June 2020 06:15 AM
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