Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that affects 1-2% of women. This disease mainly concerns girls from 12 to 20 years but may appear as early as age 9 or 10 years. Boys are less affected .
Anorexia leads to an obsession with weight loss leading to severe food restrictions. Often these restrictions are accompanied by intense physical or intellectual, always in fear of fat. The thinness of desire can lead to other behaviors: bingeing, use of laxatives and diuretics, vomiting … Other disorders, psychological, may occur: anxiety, depression, withdrawal, addiction to drugs or alcohol and even suicidal tendencies.
Beware though, because many adolescents may have aberrant eating behaviors disappear as quickly as they appeared. Anorexia is feared when the disorder becomes chronic and involves a lot of meals.
Physically, this disease results in extreme weight loss up to 50% of normal weight. Food deprivation will obviously affect the body: insomnia, hair falls, permanent fatigue, feeling cold, memory loss, loss of rules …
More hardships are intense, the consequences are significant: decalcification, osteoporosis, malaise, voltage drops … These distortions may ultimately threaten human life.
What are the causes ?
The causes are still poorly identified, they seem complex and controversial. Some argue the factors of metabolic or genetic. Others think that the psychological and relational causes are decisive. The starting point may be a simple diet, a derogatory remark, bereavement or school problem.
The lack of benchmarks, difficult family relationships, adolescent crisis, due to the physical changes of puberty are often cited as favoring the onset of anorexia. The teenager would seek, by food deprivation, to achieve its autonomy and it would try to transfer his vis-à-vis its close dependency (parents, friends …) to the food. Abstinence would then be a mark of independence.
Anorexia by his self-destructive nature allow the girl to prove that she has control of her body. This condition may, again, mask a lack of confidence or a trend of devaluation.
Anorexic teens often have a typical profile: students without problems, they seek the sustained efforts, both intellectual and physical. They are hyperactive and spend freely … to avoid fat. They continue to operate normally, but avoid the relationships and conflicts, especially within the family.
What are the treatments ?
Outside help is usually needed. The main difficulty is then withholding treatment. Indeed, these adolescents do not see themselves as sick and specialized consultations reject or institution monitoring. This refusal is a real problem because anorexia must be treated as soon as possible. More trouble sets in, more harmful eating behaviors and reinforce the adolescent will struggle to get by.
Treatment usually consists of psychotherapy that will enable dialogue with the teenager. A general practitioner then performs, in parallel, monitoring weight and health status. In severe cases, hospitalization is often necessary. This break with the family environment is sometimes beneficial: it allows the girl to forge other relationships and have the feeling to exist by itself. Parents can also be supported in psychotherapy, in order to understand the problems of their daughter and eventually rebuild or stabilize the couple.
Unfortunately, the various treatments against anorexia have limited effectiveness: in one third of cases, adolescents found a normal life. For another third, recovery remains incomplete, with the persistence of a low weight, psychological disorders and risk of relapse. In the last third, the anorexia problem persists and requires constant care. Finally you should know that about 10% of anorexics die from their disease, either by bad nutrition, or by suicide.