Anorexia is an eating disorder that can be difficult to detect if you don’t spend mealtimes with the person who has it. The disease is characterized by a dangerously low weight, fear of gaining weight and a distorted view of the body.
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It can lead to very dire health consequences, including death. Intervention is necessary to help a person learn to eat in a healthy way and stay at a weight that is both healthy and achievable.
Here are the things you should be on the lookout for if you’re worried that someone you love might be anorexic.
Common Symptoms Of Anorexia
One of the most obvious signs of anorexia is a dramatic drop in weight. A person will look very thin and the bones will be easy to see because the body is very low in fat and muscle tone.
When a person loses too much weight, it can cause a wide range of health complications. This includes changes to the heartbeat, abnormal blood counts, dizziness, fainting, trouble sleeping, extreme tiredness, constipation, dehydration, low blood pressure, brittle bones, loss of menstruation and swelling in the extremities.
Often, treating the anorexia and helping a person regain the weight can help get rid of these issues.
Anorexia can also manifest itself in other physical symptoms such as fine hair growing all over the body. This is the body’s attempt to stay warm when it loses its insulating layer of fat.
Anorexia can also cause dry skin, yellowing of the skin, damaged hair, discolored skin on the fingers and rotting or decaying teeth.
You might notice behavioral cues that let you know anorexia might be present. Someone may have an intense preoccupation with food. They may think or talk about it a lot. They may even prepare elaborate meals. However, an anorexic doesn’t eat the food. He or she may push the food around on the plate or use other techniques to make it appear as if they are eating.
Anorexics often deny hunger or only eat a certain type of food in tiny amounts. They may avoid social situations, feel depressed or suicidal, lie about what they’ve eaten, show very little emotion and become irritable or angry. This person might always claim they are on a diet and might exercise to an extreme.
How You Should Deal With Anorexia
If you have anorexia, the best thing you can do is to see a doctor right away. Your physician can give you a referral for a mental health specialist trained in treating the condition. You’ll also work with a nutritionist and other professionals that will help you learn new ways of looking at food and help you create a healthy meal plan for getting back to a healthy weight.
On the other hand, if you suspect that someone you love has anorexia, you must use caution when approaching him or her about it. Experts advise voicing your concerns without accusations because that can cause your loved one to become defensive and upset.
Instead, relay your fears about his or her health without talking about weight or appearance. Let the person know that you are willing to help. If you are a parent of an anorexic, you can get your child into a residential treatment center or therapy to help him or her recover.
How To Cope When Someone You Love Is Anorexic
For yourself, a support group can help you cope with the feelings of fear and helplessness that come from loving someone with anorexia. This is especially important for parents and spouses of an anorexic, since you will be spending a lot of time around your loved one and will likely feel stress and anxiety about the problem.
Anorexia can be treated, but it can also be deadly. It is important not to ignore the signs and symptoms of anorexia. Early intervention offers the best prognosis when it comes to treating an eating disorder.