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Anorexia Nervosa is classified as an eating disorder and a disease where individuals go through extreme measures to lose weight such as excessive workouts or extreme food diets in hopes to change their perspective on themselves. Individuals that embody this disease have a distorted body image of oneself and will still feel fat even after taking drastic measures to lose weight. These individuals think poorly and see themselves as overweight even if the individual is underweight.
This has a lot to do with self-esteem and psychological processes. Studies have shown that anorexia has been significantly more common in teenage females than any other group of peoples. This disorder can lead to multiple amount of health issues including, in the worst case scenario, death. Anorexia studies have shown a range of 15-20% fatality rate making it the highest psychiatric disorder with fatalities. Anorexia nervosa disorder comes with a huge list of symptoms both physical and emotional as well as obvious and not so obvious. An individual with anorexia will show characteristics such as denying being hungry, will cook meals for others yet not eat any, and will wear oversized clothes to avoid weight loss noticeability. Then there’s physical characteristics like stomach pains, dizziness, fainting, sleeping issues, muscle weakness, and even dry skin. This comes to show the severity of this disorder.
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In junior year of high school, I struggled with this disorder. All my life I was bullied and was always picked on by my peers for my appearance. I was really thin and my weight was below the average requirement for my height. However, I didn’t have a problem with my appearance despite the criticism that I faced until sophomore year of high school. I was beginning to go through puberty and gained 34 pounds over summer. This change was immediately noticed by my family, friends, and peers. My face had become chubby, my legs now had fat, and my stomach created side rolls when I sat. Although this sounds perfectly normal, I did not believe so at the time. I didn’t care about this until I started being referred to as becoming fat at school. My mother has a large figure and my friends began to make fun of me and would say that I would just end up just gaining more and more weight. These jokes seemed harmless to them but before I knew it, I began to cut food drastically. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror without any clothes, let alone shirtless or in shorts.
I got in my head and was afraid that my peers were really going to have something to pick on me for. I stopped eating breakfast and lunch at school, then I would go home and tell my mother that I was already full from after school meals that I never had. I would only eat snacks in between class periods and lunch. At points I would even make myself vomit during class if I thought I had to big of a snack. This was a lifestyle that I was dedicated too. A few weeks into this routine I passed out in class and was rushed to the ER where a doctor immediately diagnosed me with being anorexic. I was hospitalized for three days and then sent home with my promise of living by a regular healthy diet that I was given by a nutritionist. This whole process was so hard for me and I couldn’t believe that I genuinely thought I was getting fat when I was never close to it.
I struggled to eat after this. I would feel disgusting when I had a full meal and often my body rejected most of what I ate. However, after some time I joined the cheer team at my school and with the daily exercise I began to have a hunger that caused me to have cravings and want to eat all day. I gained weight in a short period of time but at one point my weight was stable and never drastically changing. I didn’t gain weight like crazy but simply became healthy. Going through this in high school is the biggest factor as to why I pushed myself to pursue a degree in psychology so that I learn more and can help learn more about eating disorders.
When being treated for anorexia I was personally offered a variety of different options to be treated with where I was hospitalized at. However, studies show that the very first step to getting treated is for an individual to accept that he or she in fact has a problem. That step was hard for me but by the end of my stay I admitted to myself the truth. The approach that I went with was weekly counseling from a nutritionist. “This strategy is designed to teach a healthy approach to food and weight, to help restore normal eating patterns, and to teach the importance of nutrition and a balanced diet.” (CITE) This is the method that I am most familiar with including hospitalization, however, there are other methods such as psychotherapy, medications (SSRI’s), and group or family therapy.
Different treatments/medications are gone about depending the severity of the individuals condition. Hospitalization is gone to usually in worse case scenarios such as malnutrition, heart failure, or serious physical or mental conditions. Next, there is medications such as SSRI’s that can help with controlling anxiety or depression that is related to the eating disorder. Lastly, there is group and family therapy, to have a support system is very critical to any rehabilitation, which is very important to an individual’s recovery. Group therapy can help an individual with anorexia to open up and allow themselves to cope with others who have been faced with similar experiences.
In conclusion, anorexia nervosa is a very severe eating disorder that deals with mental, physical, and psychological factors that can lead to permanent health issues and, like aforementioned, death and individuals with this disorder should seek the appropriate treatment.
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