If you are suffering with Anorexia or believe you could, be anorexia counselling could be exactly what you need. Our professional counsellors are someone you can talk to in complete confidence, someone who will listen to you with no judgement and also someone who can offer you the right advice so your journey to recovery can begin.
– full name Anorexia Nervosa, is a well-known eating disorder that causes sufferers to fear the aspect of gaining weight, which leads to them have a very unhealthy diet. One of the main aspects of Anorexia is that the sufferer will see themselves as overweight, even when they would be classed as having a normal weight, or even below normal. This leads to emotional responses and makes the sufferer limit the amount of food they eat as to get to a lower weight, which is of course, unhealthy for the person involved. Anorexia itself can start from an early age and can be traced back to low confidence and self-esteem. Sufferers of anorexia may think that they can easily stop once they have reached a desired weight, but this is sadly not the case as the disorder soon takes over and the sufferer finds it extremely difficult to stop. If you suffer from anorexia, you may feel as if you have no way out and that you cannot stop. However, this is not the case and there are many professionals out there who can support you during your road of recovery.
Many sufferers of anorexia and other eating disorders see food as a negative thing, rather than something to enjoy, or even as something that is a necessity. Sufferers also see themselves as overweight and therefore, will see food as an inconvenience and as a result, will start to connect food with emotions such as sadness or fear. Sufferers also think about their weight and body shape in a negative light, rather than a positive one.
There are many symptoms of anorexia that a sufferer will start to develop, if you are developing any of these, there is a high chance that you have anorexia:
- Lying about what foods you have eaten during the day, week etc.
- Wearing baggy clothes / larger clothes to hide your body from others.
- Cooking for others but not eating anything yourself.
- Exercising excessively after eating or to compensate for having a meal.
- Feeling emotions such as sadness, regret or fear for high-calorie foods.
- Skipping meals regularly during the day.
- Regularly weighing yourself throughout the day.
As well as a number of behavioural symptoms that you may develop, there are also psychological symptoms as well, since Anorexia is classed as a psychological illness.
- Getting feelings of depression and/or anxiety.
- Developing obsessive behaviors.
- You start to hear a voice telling you to lose weight.
- You develop low confidence and low self-esteem.
- You get the desire to disappear or begin self-harming.
With the combined forces of the behavioural and psychological symptoms, you may start to develop physical symptoms. There are symptoms that can be physically seen by yourself and others.
- You find that falling asleep is difficult.
- You experience episodes of dizziness or find yourself fainting frequently.
- You start to develop a drop in temperature and always feel cold.
- You find it difficult to concentrate during the day, as well as at night.
- You can start to see your hair falling out.
- There may be a growth of fine hair on your body.
- In women, you may find disruption or cessation of periods.
- You may develop stomach pains.
Causes of anorexia
Like a few other psychological illnesses, are isn’t a single cause of anorexia. Many professionals on the subject – as well as past and current sufferers themselves, say that there are many factors that can lead to the development of Anorexia. Again, psychological factors play a big part as well as environmental and genetic factors.
Through studies of anorexia, many sufferers can be found suffer from the following psychological symptoms and commonly share them with other sufferers:
- You tend to lean towards anxiety and depression.
- You find it difficult to handle stress.
- You seem to worry all the time, especially about your future.
- Wanting everything to be perfect and striving for the perfect outcome.
- Not being able to express your emotions freely.
- You feel an obsession with something or a compulsion do some something.
- Environmental factors
- Environmental factors are always debated in how they can effect a person so they develop anorexia, nevertheless, these are considered to be the environmental factors that can lead to the illness:
- Having a job or a hobby that demands a person to have a thin body.
- If you have stress at home, work or school.
- Your culture can have a big impact, especially if it idolizes thinner bodies.
- A life event, such as a family member passing away can contribute to anorexia.
- If you have ever experienced physical or sexual abuse.
Biological and genetic factors
There have been many studies into the biological and genetic causes for the illness, however, results have inconclusive and results can vary. With things such as addiction, the possibility of developing anorexia will increase if a family member has had or does have the illness themselves. There is also the possibility that changes in the way your brain functions or hormones has something to do with the illness, but again, results are inconclusive. Many sufferers experience events in their lives that cause hormonal changes, for example, getting pregnant and giving, can trigger eating disorders.
As per the symptoms of having a eating disorder, it can be difficult to diagnose an anorexia suffer, due to the possibility that they wouldn’t tell anyone and would be quiet about their ordeal. The very first thing about should do if they think they have anorexia or know someone who does, would be to contact a doctor. The doctor will then ask you questions about what you eat, how much you eat and will gain a general understanding of your eating habits. This may seem intimidating but its necessary and you should answer them with complete honesty. You could also be asked about your body, such as your BMI or blood pressure – this is to allow the doctor to check that your physical wellbeing isn’t in danger, or at least, immediate danger. In order to diagnose you, they will begin by asking some questions about your eating habits and how you feel about yourself and your relationship with food. While this may be difficult to talk about, it is important to answer these questions honestly so your doctor can accurately assess your emotional state. If your doctor suspects that you have anorexia, they will give you advice on how to get further help.
A problem with an eating disorder such as Anorexia is that the sufferer may be very quiet about the whole thing and that nobody will know and therefore, can’t provide help. The sufferer may also not realize that they have a problem and therefore, doesn’t even begin to ask for help. If you do not have help and support from those closest to you, then the ordeal of having an eating disorder can be much worse. Having an eating disorder is bad in itself, but can be made worse by not having the support of those around you and by opening up and telling someone about your ordeal, it can feel like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders. Moving on from talking to a close friend or family member, your next step would be to talk to a professional, such as a counsellor.
There are many ways to approach treating anorexia and eating disorders. What works for you will heaving depend on your circumstances and how bad your condition really is. When it comes to treating anorexia, there is usually two methods that are used in order to help you: psychological therapy and tailored advice. Psychological therapy is the best way to treat any mental symptoms or factors that you might have, whereas the tailored advice will be used to help you out physically. Usually all of the help can be done on an outpatient basis, but at times when the illness is very bad, then a hospital or clinic will be required during the treatment period.
With anorexia, there are many different ways to get psychological treatment. As anorexia is a very complex illness, the treatments that you receive can take longer to work. This will all depend on a case-by-case basis and comes down to the individuals circumstances.
For the treatment of Anorexia, there are many different types of therapy that you can use to help you along the way, these are detailed below:
Cognitive Analytic Therapy – also known as CAT
Cognitive analytic therapy a therapy that will look into a person’s past in order to establish and find any unhealthy patterns of behaviour. Understanding how past events may have contributed to an eating disorder can give a greater amount of knowledge into a persons eating disorder. Once the therapist has found a connection, if there is one, they can help to establish what changes a person can make in order to stop any patterns of behaviour that are unhealthy and/or dangerous.
Cognitive behavioural therapy – also known as CBT.
A popular therapy that is used for anorexia and other eating disorders is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. The therapy itself states that we think or feel about a certain situation affects how we behave and vice versa. This can be seen in eating disorders as a person may think about food as something nasty or are fearful of eating, and therefore, don’t. The therapy helps you to understand why you have these thoughts and feelings and how you can overcome them. Your therapist will guide you through this process, helping you to establish new ways of thinking about certain situations, such as eating dinner.
Interpersonal therapy (IPT)
Interpersonal Therapy is about relationships and how they effect mental health. When applied to anorexia, the therapy will explore any issues or negative associations you have with any of your relationships. Many times, eating disorders come from feelings of anxiety and low self-esteem, which are symptoms of any eating disorder. However, Interpersonal Therapy will look into all of this and try to help by looking at the relationships that you have.
If you have an eating disorder, it can have a massive impact on you but also can have an impact on those around you, such as close friends and your family. It is important to consider family therapy when looking at possible treatments for anorexia and other eating disorders. This can help those close to you understand why you feel the way you do and help to remove some of the secrecy that often comes with anorexia. Through family therapy, your family can discuss their feelings and thoughts. This type of therapy has been seen to work best with younger sufferers of an eating disorder.
Anorexia may be a psychological illness but it can also have physical repercussions. You can also find a lot of help in recovering physically, such as introducing new / more foods into your diet to give you a way of achieving a well balanced and heathy diet. As the physical aspect of recovery tends to be eating and putting on weight, many sufferers struggle with this part, but if you stick with it, you will see a change for the better. Your doctors may ask you to introduce certain foods to your diet in a slow and controlled manner, while your therapist discusses with you how it makes you feel. When you make the required changes to your diet, your doctor will monitor your physical health to see how you are improving.
Medication can be used at times during the recovery process for an eating disorder. However, medication is not the primary source of help with his type of illness and could be issued depending on your treatment plan and your circumstances. The most common medication used in the treatment of anorexia is Selective Serotonin Reuptake inhibitor, which is used to combat anxiety and depression.
During the recovery period, and possibly beyond, some sufferers find themselves slipping into their old ways and don’t follow their dietary requirements once the recovery plan has finished/is finishing. However, during the psychological treatment you are able to discuss how to spot signs of a relapse, so you know how to avoid it or how to stop yourself from falling further. It’s important to tell someone if you think you are having a relapse. Always be kind to yourself, such things as beating yourself up over a relapse will only make matters worse, so if need be, talk to a professional such as a counsellor.
If anorexia is left untreated, medical intervention may be required and in some cases the disorder can be fatal