Tuesday, 25 February 2014
Day two, Anorexia Nervosa.
Welcome to day two of eating disorders awareness week, here is some information on anorexia nervosa, and how to get help.
Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder. It is principally a psychological disorder, but has many physical affects too. It's characteristic feature is fear of fatness, or even normal body weight, accompanied by an intense pursuit of thinness. There is almost always a distortion of body image, meaning the person doesn't see themselves as others see them, or as they are (for example they may think they look healthy when in fact they look skeletal). Starvation, exercise and vomiting are often used to maintain a very low weight.
Physical affects of anorexia include fatigue, dizziness, heart palpitations, amenorrhea, poor circulation, dry skin a d hair, hair loss, osteoporosis, internal organs shrink, immune system weakens, and many more.
Psychological affects include continuously thinking about food, seeing a distorted image of themselves, fearing particular foods or food groups, thinness or avoidance if being fat becomes all consuming. It s worth saying, at this point, that people can have anorexia at any weight, you do not have to be underweight, although many are. Also, when recovering from anorexia, you aren't necessarily recovered when your BMI is in the healthy range, or even if you become overweight. The disorder can still be there psychologically and cause a huge deal of damage.
Anyone can get anorexia, it is most diagnosed in young women, but men and women of any age can become unwell with anorexia.
If you want to understand more what its like for someone with anorexia nervosa, read some books such as An Apple A Day by Emma Wolf, or A Girl called Tim by June Andrews, which are biographies by people who have overcome anorexia.
The first port call for treatment is generally your GP. They may refer you on for talking therapies, a dietician, community mental health teams, inpatient wards, outpatient clinics, day patient clinics or general hospital if necessary. Your GP can also keep a close watch on your physical health, which is very important as anorexia can have severe physical consequences, although most can be reversed by recovery, they can and do lead to death if untreated. Family and friends are also key in recovery, and it is important that people with in your support system have a knowledge of the disorder, even if they don't understand themselves. It is also important to keep social activities going if possible, as anorexia can be quite a lonely experience, and sufferers often shut people out because they feel they don't deserve friendships, or because they are so focused on food. There are also helplines like Beat (www.b-eat.co.uk/01603619090) and Anorexia Bulimia care (www.anorexiabulimiacare.org.uk/01934713789) or websites like Minds Like Ours (www.mindslikeours.co.uk)
There are many helpful books for sufferers out there, so here are some titles that may help you and those supporting you:
OVERCOMING ANOREXIA NERVOSA by Christopher Freeman
Anorexia Nervosa, a survival guide for families and friends and sufferers
Life without ED by Jenni Schaefer
And more, available from beats online shop: http://www.b-eat.co.uk/about-beat/shop/books-and-dvds/
And of course, for me, as a christian, I believe that God is key in recovery, its able to take place because of him, happens through him, and you can do it with him. You can trust him to help you through the darkest of times, and he will never leave you, and he loves you dearly and cares about your health, mental health included.