Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa literally means ‘lack of appetite due to nervous causes’. But what exactly is anorexia nervosa, how do we recognize it and how do we deal with it?

What is anorexia nervosa?

However, those who suffer from anorexia nervosa do not lack appetite, but try to control their hunger and appetite. We could better call it ‘thinness’, because young people experience an irresistible urge to lose weight, even though they are far below the normal and healthy weight for their height and age. They seem addicted to it and continue with it: it gives them stability and the feeling of being good at something.
Food, weight and body size are an obsession for young people with anorexia. They are constantly counting calories and worrying about what they will or will not allow themselves to eat. Food is only considered ‘healthy’ if it is low in calories; Sugars and fats in particular are taboo. Young people with anorexia often eat the same things every day according to a fixed schedule or self-imposed ritual. Any deviation from this pattern can cause panic and is therefore avoided in every possible way. Some young people cannot maintain this regime and occasionally suffer from binge eating, where they consume a lot of food in a short period of time. After such a binge they feel very desperate and want to get rid of the food as quickly as possible. They do this by self-induced vomiting or by using laxatives. To lose even more weight, young people often force themselves to excessive physical activity. On average, anorexia lasts 6 years. After healing, a sensitivity to new eating disorders often remains.

Characteristics

  • Underweight: There is an incessant desire to be extremely thin and an intense fear of being or becoming fat. A strict diet or fasting is observed. Two types can be distinguished: the ‘restrictive type’ (with a lot of (hidden) physical activity) and the ‘purging type’ (fasting, alternating with binge eating, vomiting and laxatives. See also the article Binge Eating Disorder).
  • A training session for nutrition and health. A compulsive eating pattern, combined with too much physical activity. There is self-induced vomiting and/or use of laxatives.
  • Especially in the initial phase denial of the problem.
  • Anorexia mainly occurs in girls between the ages of 14 and 18.
  • The disorder may be associated with depression and/or with concealing exercise behavior: walking up and down the stairs more often, walking more often, vacuuming more often, going to the gym every day, doing 500 abdominal exercises in the room every evening, for example.
  • There is a direct relationship between mood and behavior. Out of shame, people try to hide the eating problem.
  • The young person often feels cold, sleep is negatively affected. Concentration problems and memory problems.

 

Intercourse

Dealing with young people with an eating disorder is often very difficult. Their thinking pattern is so dominated by thoughts of (not) eating, their body weight and body shapes, that communication is very difficult. They are often so adept at hiding their eating disorder or minimizing the consequences that communication is very difficult (also with their parents). Even if it seems difficult, avoid talking about food! After all, the subject is so charged that there is a tendency to blame the young person for the eating disorder. It is also a problem for young people who lack the strength to overcome it alone. Discuss the problems. Try to be a listening ear, show respect. Professional help is usually absolutely necessary.

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