Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia literally means: lack of appetite due to nervous causes. The name is incorrect, because anorexia patients do not have a lack of appetite, they consciously try to suppress their appetite and feeling of hunger. Patients want to lose weight so badly that they become addicted to every gram they lose and in the long run they cannot stop, even if they have already lost a lot of weight.


For an anorexia patient, everything that has to do with food, weight and body size is an obsession. They spend entire days constantly counting calories and worrying about what they should or should not eat. Usually they have the same ritual every day and they eat exactly the same every day as the days before. Some patients cannot keep this up every day and go on a binge, desperately stuffing themselves with everything that is edible and available. They then feel guilty and want to get rid of the food they just ate as quickly as possible. They usually induce vomiting or use laxatives. They often also cause excessive physical activity.
Patients continue to feel very fat while sometimes being very thin. So they have a distorted body image. The more weight they lose, the more afraid they become of eating and gaining it back. They often try to keep their eating behavior a secret from others because otherwise they are afraid that the environment will put pressure on them. They can maintain for a very long time that nothing is wrong.

Causes for the development of anorexia nervosa

Cultural social factors

Because there are often many expectations (mainly women), striving for this is sometimes an impossible task. They often have to be a gentle, sweet wife and good mother. Preferably with a good study and a nice job. In addition, the house must always be clean and they must also be very active socially. Manipulations of eating behavior and body are ways to deal with this.

Social factors

The ideal of slimness is also a problem that often occurs. Models are super slim, fashion and teen magazines are also full of slim girls and women. And if this is not entirely the case, excess pounds or imperfections on the skin will be removed with the computer. Many adolescents want to live up to this ideal. Repeated critical comments by friends, relatives or other people can also become a problem. If you are told often enough that you are too fat or not beautiful, patients will believe that and can develop anorexia in this way. It may also be that patients have not learned how to deal with emotions such as sadness, pain and sometimes joy at a younger age, and they may incorrectly associate this with food. Major traumatic experiences, such as incest and physical or mental violence, can also lead to the development of an eating disorder.

Psychological factors

People who have anorexia are often vulnerable and are more concerned about all kinds of things than other people. These can be very personal factors. They are often perfectionists and want to do everything very well. Of course this never works and they get frustrated. When conclusions are drawn from these lines of thought (people only like me if I lose 10 kilos) they end up in a downward spiral. Success is therefore associated with body weight.
Anorexia can also develop after puberty, where other issues often play a role that probably have not or cannot be processed properly . This may involve the death of a loved one or the termination of a relationship. Sexual abuse and leaving home are also part of this.

Which health problems?

Extreme weight loss can cause malnutrition and anorexia patients will then develop the following complaints:

  • Absence of menstruation.
  • Heart rate and breathing slow down and blood pressure drops.
  • People feel colder because the body temperature drops, this is because little food is burned
  • Hair loss and loose teeth
  • Blockage
  • Thick lower legs because there is moisture in them.
  • Muscle tissue is broken down during extreme weight loss and at a certain point they no longer feel hungry.
  • Insomnia
  • Deficiency of vitamins and minerals
  • Malfunctioning kidneys and liver. Eventually damage occurs.
  • Muscle cramps, cardiac arrhythmias and ultimately cardiac arrest.
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