Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by being underweight in relation to one’s age and sex, calorie restriction, and dissatisfaction with body image. People with anorexia have a distorted body image and see themselves as fatter than they really are. The body mass index is usually used to evaluate whether the weight is appropriate or not, in addition to evaluations of eating patterns, physical exercise and certain personality traits that are also used to make a good diagnosis.
In some cases, anorexia nervosa does not occur in isolation, but can be accompanied by depression, anxiety and social isolation. In this PsychologyFor article we will talk about this disease that affects young people in our society so much and we will explain what types of anorexia exist.
What is anorexia nervosa
Anorexia nervosa is a Eating Disorder associated with the perception of one’s own image and characterized by a refusal to maintain a body weight considered normal in relation to factors such as the person’s height and age. This disorder mainly affects young women of high academic performance with great self-demand both in the family and personally to achieve their goals and excellent grades, which leads them to begin to obsess over their body shape and weight.
Men can also suffer from anorexia nervosa, but about ten times less frequently than in women. Likewise, there are populations with a high risk of suffering from anorexia nervosa, such as relatives of patients with eating disorders, depression or anxiety, or people with jobs that require maintaining a low weight, such as models, gymnasts, ballet dancers. , actors or actresses, etc.
How to recognize anorexia nervosa
There are three essential criteria that define anorexia nervosa and that must be taken into account to establish an appropriate diagnosis:
- Restriction of food intake leading to significant weight loss taking into account age, gender, stage in development, etc.
- A intense fear of gaining weight or persistent behavior aimed at not gaining weight.
- Image distortion body, excessive concern about weight and figure.
Symptoms of anorexia nervosa
Below we show you some of the main symptoms of this disorder food:
- Food restriction.
- Significant weight loss or very low weight.
- Obsession with calories.
- Performing “rituals” regarding food, such as eating alone, hiding food, or cutting food into small pieces.
- Fixation with food, recipes or cooking in general. The person can cook for others, but not eat anything.
- Amenorrhea (absence of menstruation).
- Lanugo (hair growth on the face and body).
- Feeling cold, especially in the extremities.
- Hair loss or weakening.
- Tendency to isolate, avoiding social events, family or friends.
In this other article we discover what the psychological symptoms of anorexia are so that you understand how they affect you internally.
Types of anorexia nervosa
What types of anorexia nervosa exist? Mainly, we can find two types of anorexia nervosa. Below we will explain each of them:
It is characterized by a significant weight loss through a restrictive diet, fasting or excessive physical exercise, and great self-discipline, restricting the amount of food ingested, the calories and, above all, avoiding the intake of foods high in sugar or fat.
Fewer calories are consumed than necessary to maintain an adequate weight, being a clear form of self-starvation.
This type of anorexia is characterized by a series of bingeing or purging. Most people with this type of anorexia eat compulsively and then engage in purgative behaviors such as self-induced vomiting and inappropriate use of laxatives, diuretics or enemas.
There are some people within this subtype of anorexia who do not binge eat, but purge after eating small amounts of food. The goal of these behaviors is to alleviate the fear of gaining weight and the feeling of guilt for having eaten.
What is atypical anorexia nervosa?
Despite some of the stigmas assumed about anorexia (weight below “normal”), a person can present restrictive behaviors and characteristics of anorexia without meeting the criteria of being below recommended weight. Likewise, it is important to understand that weight is not a defining criterion of an eating disorder, despite popular beliefs.
A person with atypical anorexia would present the same criteria as anorexia (mentioned above) except weight loss, since they maintain a weight above or within the normal range taking into account their age, sex, etc. This makes it an atypical anorexia, presenting an excessive fear of gaining weight without any visible change in weight, and with food-related behaviors considered “abnormal”, such as counting calories, eliminating certain meals of the day or avoiding social events that involve food. .
Many people with this disorder do not realize that they have a serious eating disorder because they do not meet the weight criteria. A person may think “I’m not sick enough to have an eating disorder” just because they have a weight greater than or equal to what is considered appropriate for their age. This prevents them from realizing their true situation and seek the help you need.
How to prevent anorexia nervosa
Educating the population about the benefits of proper nutrition is generally beneficial, but has not been found to be very effective in preventing eating disorders.
One of the most effective proposals has been education about the bias that occurs in the media towards thinness as something desirable in advertisements, images, etc., helping the person to internalize appropriate body image and health behaviorsthat is, they are incongruent with behaviors typical of eating disorders.
This article is merely informative, at PsychologyFor we do not have the power to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.
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