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ANOREXIA NERVOSA



Read excerpts from Iyobosa’s Story

“At first we thought she wanted to become a vegetarian like many of the ladies in the company where she worked as a fashion editor, eating only leaves and grains because she wanted to "lose weight" which she did, she lost a lot of the unhealthy weight she grew up with and we agreed it was a good idea but Iyo was now going too far. She would starve for days and only take weird looking mixtures that smelled horrible claiming they were ‘fat-burning’ smoothies. The part that drove me crazy was her inability to just let herself breathe!, she exercised way too much for it to be healthy, to the point of passing out even and then anytime she took a serving of cakes or burgers or ice-cream, she would fuss with it, toss it around her plate, then savour the taste for a bit before running to the bathroom to force it out of her system”.


INTRODUCTION

In a highly sexualized society, where the objectification of women is pervasive and enduring, there is an unhealthy obsession with physical attractiveness based on set body weight and measurements, which has forced women to assimilate and interpret certain ideas to mean physical beauty. These ideas are further depicted on social media, reinforced by the expectations of friends, family and the rest of the Society. As a result of preference for certain physiques which suits the projected ideal body of many within the society, females most commonly are left with a morbid dissatisfaction of their body weight and are forced to carry out various strategies that would enable them to have the perfect body as portrayed in the society. The dissatisfaction with their body weight causes women and men in some cases to have a distorted and negative self image, and lowered esteem, and in the wake of trying to achieve the desired weight, they take on extreme activities and unhealthy eating, characterizing the diagnosis of an Eating disorder.


WHAT IS ANOREXIA NERVOSA?

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder with features including: marked distortion of body image, a morbid fear of getting fat, pathological desire for thinness and self -induced weight loss by a variety of methods.


This disorder typically begins in adolescence, emerging when an individual is obsessing over possible weight gain, therefore steps are taken to start dieting. Oftentimes, the individuals focus mainly on eating vegetables as meals and avoiding varieties. This eating disorder is rampant in females, but also seen in males.


HOW COMMON IS ANOREXIA NERVOSA?

Eating disorders are generally common among women. Anorexia nervosa is one of the most prominent eating disorders, with the onset starting around mid-adolescence. In a study carried out to find the prevalence of anorexic behavior in individuals with disordered eating, a prevalence rate of 14.1% of 644 females was reported. In another study, 58% of the participants in the study had the tendency to engage in abnormal eating behaviours.


CAUSES OF ANOREXIA NERVOSA.

Anorexia may start as a result of different factors including:

Social factors: may include societal emphasis on thinness and the importance of staying fit. Social media portrayal of thin or curvy women as the ideal type of sexual partners, and emphasis on how these women are more likely to get better chances at marriage.

Biological factors: this can include the role of genes , and physiological functioning of the body (irregular functioning of the chemical-serotonin).

Psychological factors: Poor family dynamics, negative body image, poor self esteem, which arises from constant comparison with others.

Environmental factors: demands from work that require that an individual maintains a lean body

Other factors: such as pressure from family and friends and better half to control weight gains and the importance of looking trim.


SUBTYPES OF ANOREXIA NERVOSA

There are two major subtypes of this disorder namely: food restricting category and the purging category.

Food restricting category: individuals in this group practice limiting the amount of food intake. There is the absence of binge eating, and self induced vomiting.

The purging subtype: individuals are known for their binge eating behaviors, as well as the fact that they engage in self-induced vomiting.


SYMPTOMS OF ANOREXIA NERVOSA

  • Low body weight: below expected BMI 17.5 or less (Normal BMI-19)

  • Self-induced weight loss- obvious reduction of food intake, avoidance of food deemed fattening, vomiting, purging, excessive exercise, use of appetite suppressants.

  • Individuals are often involved in hiding food, as a way to reduce what they are eating.

  • They may also spend more time eating their food and have other ritualistic acts around food.

  • Patients often begin to show preference for eating in private away from the watchful eyes of family, spending longer time eating etc.

  • Dread of fatness

  • There is an unexpected interest in physical exercise such as jogging, cycling, walking, etc. which becomes routine.

  • Also for adults, there may be drastic loss of interest in sexual activities and absence of the menstrual period (amenorrhea) in females

  • Development of a myriad of endocrine and hormonal disbalances and physical disorders.


MANAGEMENT AND TREATMENT


• The very first course of action involves restoring lost nutrients, as starvation could cause drastic health problems and death.

• Patients below the regular weight and BMI for their age, are admitted into the hospital for urgent treatment, and psychiatric care.

• Psychiatric care involves a combination of talk therapy, family therapy, medication therapy, and general behavioral management approach.

• Patients in inpatient care undergo feeding treatment and weight monitoring.

• Family members are exposed and educated on the symptoms of the patient and how they can assist in managing the symptoms of the patient in family therapy.

• Various medications are employed in the treatment of this disorder depending on the severity of the disorder.


CONCLUSION

The course of anorexia nervosa varies from individual to individual, ranging from rapid recovery without treatment, to recovery after various forms of treatments. There could be complications caused by lack of nutrient or inadequate nutrient within the body, caused by starvation, which can be fatal. In preventing new cases of Anorexia Nervosa, a degree of attention and monitoring is required in adolescents, pertaining to body image perception and acceptance. Awareness is imperative about this disorder, and the dangers of comparing individuals to celebrities and other negative aspects of social media that projects certain appearances as the ideal.

Finally, Individuals who wish to lose weight should seek professional advice about how best to go about this without any untoward outcomes.


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