How to Help If Someone You Know May Have Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa is a mental disorder in which the patient is scared of eating anything because s/he thinks that that may add to her/his weight. If you have someone in your family or friends suffering from this disorder, you should know everything about the anorexia treatment and help that person.

What is Anorexia?

Anorexia was long considered to be a fad of models, who were afraid of putting on weight and refused to eat anything. However it has been found now that it is not just a fad, but a serious mental disorder, which if remains untreated, may even cause death due to starvation. In this disease, the person refuses to eat anything because of the fear of gaining weight. These people think constantly that they are fat, even if they are not. They are not only un-fat, but are thin actually, and still they think that they are fat and so, they skip meals, vomit and take laxatives to purge and keep exercising almost all the time to keep their weight less.

Importantly, these people don’t understand why they are doing so, and even they feel ashamed of their behavior, still keep reiterating to themselves that they haven’t done anything wrong. However, anorexia can affect their health very badly and they can even die of starvation.

How to Find if Someone is Anorexic?

If your child starts being picky about some foods, you need not get upset that s/he has caught anorexia. Children and especially teenagers are often choosy about foods and there is nothing to worry about it. However, you can keep an eye if they or anyone else in your family or friends show the following symptoms of anorexia nervosa or any other eating disorder:

  • Eating very less, staying hungry for long time
  • Piling their plates with low-calorie foods like leafy greens, slices of cucumber and tomatoes, etc. Sometimes these foods too are eaten in particular quantities like 10 slices of cucumber and 1 tablespoon of sauce, etc.
  • Strange behavior about food – cutting food in very small pieces or moving it around their plate to show that they are eating
  • Unwilling to eat with others
  • Talking constantly about food
  • Checking constantly their weight and appearance in mirror, and complaining that they have gained weight or hate some of their body parts
    Distressed and irritable nature, usually around mealtimes
    Feeling satiated even after eating only a little
    Going to bathroom immediately after eating
    Exercising constantly
    Growing fine, soft hair on face
    Feeling cold always and so, wearing lots of layers to stay warm (and hide thinness)
    Drinking abnormally large amount of water or low-calorie drinks (to suppress hunger pangs)
    Not attentive to school or work

Difficulty in anorexia treatment or any eating disorder treatment is the patient is not willing to talk about the problem, and they may even say that they don’t need help. Problem with anorexic people is they may even think that others are conspiring to fatten them. Most importantly, you should try to encourage them to visit a doctor. But even if they don’t do that, you should always try to maintain to offer your support.

Your doctor may recommend to join a local support group of anorexic patients and their families. In such groups, you can get information about how to deal with an anorexic person and her/his problem.

After the treatment, an anorexic patient may actually feel better. The treatment roughly aims at three things: the patient should start eating more food, gain weight and change their thought process about food and themselves. Getting help from professional psychotherapist as well as physician is a good strategy.