Wednesday, March 7, 2018

4 Steps How to Help Someone With Anorexia Get Better

4 Steps How to Help Someone With Anorexia Get Better.

When you think that anorexia is just the matter of diet problem, you may have to rethink again.

Actually, it is the matter of mental health problem.

Anorexia nervosa is a mental health problem in which people are obsessed with having a lean body and very afraid if they look fat.

Because of fear, they even always assume their body is still less thin or still fat even though the reality is not like that.


It is all about appearance.

Thus, how to help someone with anorexia?

Let us start it by knowing the symptoms first.

how to help someone with anorexia

The age of 16-17 is an age that is considered vulnerable to this disorder to begin to appear.

The majority of people with anorexia comes from young women and adult women.

To keep their bodies as thin as possible, anorexics will try hard to limit the portion of food to a minimum, using drugs (such as laxatives and appetite suppressants), and excessive exercise.

Sometimes they also have to regurgitate the eaten food which is known as bulimia nervosa.

However, if in bulimia the average person has normal weight or more, the anorexic patient has less weight.

1. Knowing the symptoms of anorexia

Sometimes, you will not recognize whether a person is in anorexia or not until she or he completely so skinny.

Those with anorexia can be identified from the following symptoms:
  • Significant weight loss and looking very skinny.
  • Always pay attention to the shape of the body in front of the mirror.
  • Weigh the body almost every time.
  • Often regurgitate the already eaten food.
  • Likes to lie if asked whether they have eaten or not.
  • Counting the number of calories, fat, and sugar in the diet.
  • Often exercising excessively. 
  • Consuming certain drugs, like drinking laxatives and appetite suppressants.
  • Easily offended.
  • Having health problems as a result of anorexia itself, such as fatigue, dehydration, low blood pressure, dizziness, hair loss, and dry skin.

Also, there are some particular mental health problems:
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Hurt themselves

Anorexic patients generally always wear loose clothes and routinely perform the measurement, weighing, or observation of their bodies in front of the mirror.

Dissatisfaction with body weight makes people with anorexia feel less confident.

They feel that their self-esteem is affected by weight.

As a result, this lack of self-confidence makes them isolated and no longer interested in socializing with others.

Therefore, there may some people with anorexia who eventually have problems in relation to others, especially in the family, friendship, education, or work.

From these symptoms, it is clear that anorexia is a psychological problem which unfortunately causes physical health problems.

Physical problems that arise

Physical problems perceived by anorexia are caused by minimal food intake, especially over a long period of time.

Some of these issues are:
  • Fatigue
  • Anemia
  • A headache and dizziness
  • Bloated
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Breath smells and teething problems due to frequent vomiting of food
  • Swelling of the arms and legs
  • Fingers and toes become bluish due to poor circulation
  • Fever
  • Hair loss
  • Dry or yellowish skin
  • Problems with physical growth and puberty in children and adolescents
  • Insomnia
  • Irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia
  • Not resistant to cold temperatures
  • Dehydration
  • Low blood pressure
  • The growth of fine hair throughout the body
  • Nails are easily broken
  • Stomach ache
  • Menstrual disorders in women.
  • Fainting

2. Identifying the exact causes of anorexia

To help someone with anorexia, you have to find out the trigger that makes she or he become like that.

The more you know the trigger, the more you can try to approach him or her.

Most specialists believe the disorder arises from a mix of factors, such as psychological, environmental, and genetic or biological factors.

Psychologically, the fear and anxiety of the fat body, has led to a strong obsession and encouragement of anorexia sufferers to regulate the body.

They assume a perfect body shape is a thin body.

But because there is always a sense of dissatisfaction within them, in the end, it makes them over-diet and trapped in anorexia.

In addition, people with anorexia are also more emotionally closed and easily depressed or stressed.

Environmental effects on anorexia nervosa

The mindset formed by environmental influences can trigger anorexia, for example, advertising in the mass media.

In today's skinny body is regarded as an absolute requirement of beauty.

The thought is then reinforced and disseminated by advertising, so there some people are affected, especially teenagers.

The reason why most people suffer from anorexia among teenagers is the number of body changes, hormonal changes and times of stress or anxiety.

At this time, adolescent self-confidence is so low that they are often hesitant and easily influenced.

In addition to the effects of hormones, ridicule and pressure experienced by a teenager in school can also trigger anorexia.

Meanwhile, on the other side, professions and bad feelings can lead some people to anorexia.

Some job like models, actresses, dancers, and actors require a highly good-looking appearance to entertain.

Then, some particular feelings of disappointment, being cheated, or even breaking up the relationship will make people depressed and avoid to eat.

Anorexia due to heredity and biology

Someone who has a family history of eating disorders, depression, or drug addicts, is believed to have a greater risk of developing anorexia.

In addition to hereditary or genetic factors, anorexia is thought to occur due to changes in hormone levels and brain function as well.

These changes may affect the part of the brain that controls appetite or triggers a feeling of guilt and worry because of eating a lot.

3. Choose the most appropriate treatment for anorexia

There is a small percentage of anorexia nervosa sufferers who are unaware that they are suffering from the condition.

Unfortunately, most of them know and do not seek treatment until they finally hide this problem for a very long time.

Therefore, it is important for us as outsiders to recognize this condition whenever a family or friend experiences it.

Persuading anorexia for treatment is not easy.

Usually, they will assume that what they have done is the right thing and will refuse to admit that they are actually in trouble.

At this point, you completely need a patience to support them.

Do not ever try to criticize and put them in a depressed condition.

It will just make everything become worse.

Therefore, here are some approaches that you can try to help someone with anorexia.

1. Medical treatment of emergency and physical impact

If the severity of anorexia nervosa is very bad with the symptoms of malnutrition that can lead to death, you have to immediately take him or her to go to the hospital.

In this case, the patient will be given intravenous fluids or fitted with nasogastric tubes to channel food through the nose.

Hospital care is intended to treat dehydration, heart rate disorders, and electrolyte imbalance.

Treatment by the hospital is also necessary if the patient experiences signs of major depression leading to suicide attempts.

Therefore, it is important for the family to always monitor the psychological condition of anorexia sufferers, so that this can be prevented.

As part of the treatment plan, the doctor will include suggestions on how to safely raise the patient's weight.

The doctor will also continue to monitor the patient's physical health.

For pediatric and adolescent patients, their height will be checked periodically to ensure they grow normally.

Raising the weight normally should be done gradually.

As a first step, the therapist will usually ask the patient to try to eat regularly, albeit in small portions.

This therapy is considered successful after the patient's diet back to normal with adequate nutritional intake, including vitamins and minerals.

It is expected that through this therapy, patients can regain weight by half to one kilogram per week.

2. Handling anorexia sufferer through psychological aspects

A number of psychological treatments can be applied to treat anorexia.

Usually, treatment will last for half a year to one year, or even longer depending on the condition of the person or the severity of anorexia.

2.1. One example of the method of handling anorexia through psychological aspects is through behavioral therapy to change the negative mindset.

One's behavior is usually the reflection of his mindset.

And vice versa, behavior can form the mindset as well.

Many unrealistic things are believed to be true by anorexics.

For example, they feel their self-esteem depends on their weight.

They are very afraid of being ridiculed or disrespected by others because they are considered fat.

Therefore, through cognitive behavioral therapy, the therapist will try to help the patient change negative thinking about food and appearance into a positive and realistic thinking pattern so that expected deviant behavior of the patient can be lost.

2.2. The second method of treatment is through analytic cognitive therapy by tracing the patient's past.

This therapy is based on the theory that mental health problems including anorexia are caused by unhealthy patterns of thinking and behavior that have been formed since childhood or adolescence.

Analytical cognitive therapy involves three stages of the process.

The first stage is the reformulation. At the stage of reformulation, usually, a therapist will seek out past patient experiences that may be the reason why unhealthy patterns can develop.

The second stage is the introduction. A therapist will help patients see and understand how these unhealthy patterns contribute to anorexia.

The third or final stage is a revision. At this stage, a number of changes that can stop these unhealthy patterns are identified, studied, then applied.

2.3. The third method of treatment is interpersonal therapy to assess the environment of the patient.

This therapy is based on the theory of environmental relationships with anorexia which the environment and people around have a very strong influence in shaping the psychological condition of people.

The theory concludes that the low self-esteem and the anxiety experienced by the sufferer arise from interaction with the people around.

During this therapy, the therapist will try to examine the negative things related to the patient's interpersonal relationship and find out how to overcome these negative things.

3. Handling anorexia sufferer using drugs

If anorexia is treated solely by taking medication, usually the result will not be effective.

The use of new medicines will be effective when combined with other therapies.

Drugs are also used to treat psychological problems associated with anorexia, such as depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Drugs that may be given include antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers.

The examples of commonly prescribed drugs include olanzapine and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

SSRIs are antidepressants.

These drugs can help relieve depression and anorexia-related anxiety.

Usually, the doctor will give this medicine if the patient's weight has returned to normal.

Giving SSRIs to patients with underweight weight is feared will cause adverse side effects.

While olanzapine is a drug that is usually given to people with anorexia who do not respond to other treatment methods.

These drugs can help relieve anxiety associated with diet or weight.

Treatment of anorexia cannot be done instantly.

To fully recover, people may take several years because even after treatment, some of them still have eating disorders.

4. Do prevention in the initial stage and be aware of the complications

Anorexia nervosa cannot be prevented completely.

However, through parent education of children early in the family, it can have a major impact to reduce the risk of this condition when they become teenager or adult.

Education here means to teach and apply a healthy diet explicitly.

In addition, children also need to be taught the right insight into the ideal body image.

If in your family member is starting to show signs of anorexia, please immediately consult a doctor to prevent this condition into the worse one.

Anorexia can lead to other serious health problems if they are not treated for long periods of time.

In children and adolescents, anorexia can inhibit physical development.

In adults, especially women, this condition can cause osteoporosis, menstrual disorders, and sterility.

While in adult men, anorexia can cause impotence and erectile dysfunction.

Meanwhile, on the other side, some complications may arise due to lack of nutrients needed by the body, that in this case is from food intake.

Some of the complications of anorexia nervosa are:
  • Hair loss
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Decreased blood pressure and respiratory rate
  • Heart failure
  • Brain damage
  • Menstruation problems
  • Anemia
  • Kidney failure
  • Infertility
  • The imbalance of electrolyte fluid 
  • Osteoporosis
  • Constipation
  • Death due to malnutrition or suicide

In addition to anorexia nervosa, there is a similar condition called bulimia nervosa.

Some patients with advanced anorexia experience bulimia.

People with bulimia usually eat as much as possible before they remove it again by vomiting or taking laxatives.

That is all about the 4 steps how to help someone with anorexia nervosa get better. Please share this article by using these buttons below.