The term anorexia has its origin in the Greek language and is made up of two words: a / an (a negation) and orego (“want”). It is a frequent symptom in different diseases and physiological states that consists of reduced appetite, which can lead to the person starting to eat less food.
The most common cause of anorexia is natural satiety that is experienced after eating a certain amount of food. This is a characteristic characteristic of physiology that is known as postprandial anorexia.
However, anorexia can appear when the subject suffers from an inflammation of the lining of his intestines, an infection or a neoplastic process. Also when the person uses drugs or develops certain psychological imbalances, such as depression or anorexia nervosa. In this case, the true cause that causes it is not entirely clear but, according to the studies that have been carried out, it is intuited that the main factor that contributes to its development is culture, the social stereotype of beauty. Anyway, it is considered that some people are born with a genetic predisposition to suffer this disorder, beyond the pressure they receive.
This last disease, anorexia nervosa, is one of the most common eating disorders. The sick person seeks to lose weight and willingly submits to starvation. This disorder is detected by a doctor after analyzing the relationship established between the individual’s behavior regarding food and their own weight. When anorexia nervosa causes very pronounced weight loss, the patient experiences all kinds of health problems and may even die.
Although we said that anorexia refers to loss of appetite, in reality this etymological meaning is not exact in the case of anorexia nervosa. Sick people may feel hungry and want to eat frequently, although they repress this intention and refuse to eat because they do not want to gain weight. On the other hand, those affected always think they are fat, even when the reality is very different.
The anorexia nervosa mainly affects women of middle and upper class and can be mild (s transient) or severe (is durable). It usually begins at 12 years of age (early adolescence) and is more common in gymnasts, dancers, and models. There are two subtypes of anorexia:
Restrictive: in which it is possible to reduce weight through diet and extreme physical exercise.
Compulsive or bulimic: in which the individual compulsively ingests amounts of food and uses the purge to eliminate it from his body motivated by the feeling of guilt.
Some of the symptoms that anorexia sufferers present are sudden weight loss, a fear of gaining weight (caused by a distorted perception of the body itself, which makes him look overweight and which lead him to kill himself with fasting and eating less and less), absence of three consecutive menstrual cycles, in the case of women, and constipation, abdominal pain and vomiting, in patients of both sexes.
They also have excessive concern about the composition of food, in terms of calories and an obsession with image., the weight, the sport and the studies, they build a hyperactive routine and avoid as much as they can talk about eating. It should also be added that these people present a change in behavior, become extremely irritable and in some cases also suffer from cognitive disorders related to eating and physical condition.
The organic symptoms that allow specialists to diagnose this disease are: reduction in heart rate, arrhythmias, decreased blood pressure, amenorrhea, decreased bone mass, anemia, dehydration and the appearance of fine and long (woolly) hair in the forearms, thighs, back, cheeks and neck, among others. The diagnosis also requires the presence of a therapist who can determine that the person actually has an eating disorder.
People with anorexia or bulimia exhibit immature behavior, are highly dependent on the family environment (in some cases they do not assume it) and are very afraid of sexual maturation and assuming responsibilities. However, it is necessary to take into account that both diseases differ from each other.
Disease development and treatment
The process that people with anorexia go through is usually: first abandon carbohydrates from the diet, later fats and proteins, until reaching liquids (there have been cases of extreme dehydration); to these measures is usually added the ingestion of diuretics, laxatives and medications that help purge the body, excessive physical exercise and vomiting caused. In the most severe cases of anorexia, weight loss can reach 50% of body mass. It is a disease with a psychological origin and can be detected in a sudden change in behavior, stigmatization of the body and complexes that are reflected in emotional behavior.
Regarding the studies that reveal that in some patients there is a physical cause, we can briefly explain that it is due to a genetic predisposition. In most cases of people suffering from anorexia nervosa, one or more family members suffer from some type of obsessive disorder (anxiety, phobias, alcoholism, etc.). This is because they present an imbalance of histamine, an organic chemical compound in the body, which also works as a neurotransmitter of nerve impulses between the brain and the nervous system and which is located in the hippocampus. It is essential for the normal functioning of memory and the integrity of emotions and thoughts; the lack or excess of it can significantly affect the physical stability and mental health of the individual.
People who produce histamine in excess have characteristics such as little hair, they are naturally thin, long fingers and toes, large ears and large central incisor teeth. They also produce a lot of saliva and are physically attractive, often suffering from muscle cramps and allergies, among other problems; They are shy, sensitive and tend to show depression, abnormal fears, compulsive behavior and suicidal thoughts.
The treatment to end anorexia is focused on correcting malnutrition and the psychic conflicts that led the patient to develop this disease. The main thing is to get the patient back to his normal weight, but once this is achieved it does not mean that the disease has been overcome, it is necessary that the patient receive psychiatric treatment to understand and definitively overcome anorexia.
In cases where the patient presents severe malnutrition, it is necessary to be admitted for greater control of their actual recovery; the same is recommended if family relationships are not conducive to recovery and when mental disorders are accentuated.
Once the patient has regained the recommended weight, psychological treatment begins, through which the patient seeks to restructure his ideas and achieve a realistic perception of his body, improve his self-esteem and efficiently develop skills. social and communicative with their environment.
Family members and people close to the patient must also participate in the treatment, because they are essential for the patient’s recovery. It should be noted that in many cases it is the family that triggers it. It is important that the patient learns to manage his anxiety and that the family tries that food does not become a topic of discussion (the worst thing for an anorexic is that he is forced to eat), he should resort to professional help and above all, be very patient.
Among the therapies used to treat anorexia are: cognitive behavioral, family therapy, group therapy, exclusive support groups for anorexic and drug treatments (antidepressants, antipsychotics and mood stabilizers).