Anorexia Treatment at Montare

 

Eating disorders are very serious illnesses. These conditions can affect every aspect of a person’s life, especially his or her physical and mental health. When someone is suffering from an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa, it’s imperative that that person seek out anorexia treatment At Montare Behavioral Health, we understand how important it is to end the cycle of damage caused by anorexia. To help our patients overcome their anorexia symptoms and take control of their physical and mental health, we offer them an experienced team of medical professionals along with various forms of treatment and therapy for eating disorders.  

What is Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that causes obsessive worry about weight gain and body image. While some level of concern about body image and weight is healthy, people who suffer from anorexia are plagued with intrusive negative thoughts about their bodies. These thoughts are so pervasive that people with anorexia go to extreme measures to prevent weight gain or to lose weight.  Anorexia robs people of having normal relationships with food. Subsequently, people that suffer from anorexia may avoid social situations where food is involved, such as dinner parties or birthdays. The preoccupation that individuals with anorexia have with their calorie intake and weight gain can cause them to choose only low-calorie foods when they do eat. This, in turn, often causes people with anorexia to be underweight or malnourished. Additionally, people who are suffering from anorexia may spend excessive amounts of time working out to burn calories and lose weight.  Anorexia has traditionally been diagnosed most often in adolescent women. However, anyone of any age or gender can develop anorexia. In fact, some studies show that 25% of people that suffer from anorexia are men. This is highly concerning as men are more likely to pass away from health complications related to anorexia due to a systemic lack of early diagnosis and intervention. People that develop anorexia should enter anorexia treatment to overcome their conditions. 

What are the Signs of Anorexia?

When a person suffers from anorexia, that person exhibits many different signs that point to disordered eating and an abnormal obsession with losing weight or keeping his or her weight low. While some people with anorexia may choose to restrict the amount or types of food that they eat, others may take laxatives or vomit after meals.  Regardless of the method that people that suffer from anorexia use to keep their weight low, the intention is the same. If you’re asking yourself do I have anorexia, the following are common signs of the eating disorder.

  • Irritability
  • Cold sensitivity
  • Depressed mood
  • Excessive exercise
  • Significant weight loss
  • Regular vomiting after meals 
  • Displaying an intense fear of getting fat
  • Denying hunger or constantly turning away food
  • Frequent misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas
  • Cutting food into small pieces, but not eating the food
  • Pushing food around a plate to give the appearance of eating
  • Withdrawing from social activities, especially ones centered around food

Fears That People With Anorexia Nervosa Face

While most people watch their weight or make an effort to manage their eating habits, individuals with anorexia nervosa are unable to do so in healthy ways. The usual concerns people experience regarding weight gain and body image are amplified in the life of someone with anorexia nervosa. Thus, people that suffer from anorexia nervosa lead unhealthy relationships with food and are obsessed with staying thin. The extreme preoccupation with food, weight, and eating is highly disruptive in the life of an anorexic individual. As a result, people with anorexia nervosa often are unable to participate in their lives normally.  In addition to being fearful of becoming fat, people with anorexia have a profound fear of gaining weight, even if they are already underweight. This can be dangerous as when anorexic individuals view themselves as overweight, they will under-eat or refuse food which may lead to a worsening of their overall health.

What Are the Causes of Anorexia?

Currently, anorexia is believed to be caused by several factors that are environmental, psychological, or social in nature. For example, many anorexics report that they developed an eating disorder after experiencing problems with their body image, such as being teased about their appearance or being compared to thinner peers.  Similarly, media often plays a role in the development of anorexia. The equation of thinness with success in popular culture can lead to individuals basing their self-worth on their physical appearance, contributing to the development of anorexia. Fortunately, treatment and anorexia recovery programs can address these external factors and provide patients with tools to cope with societal pressures regarding weight.  Additionally, it is believed that some anorexics may have a genetic predisposition that makes them more likely to develop anorexia. The risk of developing anorexia may be related to whether any family members also suffer from this eating disorder. If a sibling or parent has an eating disorder, the chances of those who are related to that family member having an eating disorder as well increase exponentially. This is believed to be caused by shared traits such as perfectionism or obsessive-compulsive tendencies.

How Does Anorexia Affect the Body?

Whatever the cause, it’s important to seek treatment for anorexia because of how dangerous this condition can be. Failing to eat enough food may not sound life-threatening, but consistent starvation can lead to a number of serious health consequences including death. Some of the milder side effects of anorexia include:

  • Dry skin
  • Hair loss
  • Insomnia
  • Constipation
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Low blood pressure
  • Blotchy or yellowed skin
  • Tooth decay from purging
  • Inability to maintain a normal weight
  • Missed or irregular menstrual periods
  • Lanugo, fine hairs that cover the face and body

As anorexia progresses, it can become so severe that an individual’s life becomes at risk. A major effect of starvation is that internal organs can cease to function normally when the body is denied nutrients. Even when a person suffering from anorexia isn’t emaciated or severely underweight, malnourishment can still occur and cause complications that lead to death. This is due to complications such as abnormal heart rhythms or electrolyte imbalances. Other serious health issues caused by anorexia include:

  • Anemia
  • Heart failure
  • Missed periods
  • Kidney problems
  • Decreased testosterone 
  • Bone loss (osteoporosis) and muscle loss
  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as bloating, constipation, and nausea
  • Issues regarding the heart, such as mitral valve prolapse or abnormal heart rhythms
  • Electrolyte deficiencies, that include low blood potassium, sodium, and chloride levels

The greatest risk with anorexia nervosa is death due to cardiac arrest or fatal heart problems related to malnutrition. Considered to be the deadliest mental illness, the rate of death due to anorexia is 12 times higher than that of any other serious condition in women ages 12-24. In many cases of anorexia, health complications may be an even greater threat to an anorexic’s life than suicide, making anorexia treatment potentially life-saving.

How is Anorexia Diagnosed?

When asking yourself, do I have anorexia, there are many ways that medical professionals can determine if you have this condition. An anorexia diagnosis is made when a person exhibits signs of anorexia, including extremely low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, a distorted self-image, and a refusal to maintain a normal body weight.  First, a medical professional will rule out other medical causes of weight loss to determine whether extreme weight loss is self-inflicted or a symptom of a different condition. Next, physical exams are used to measure the health of the heart and lungs and to check if a person’s weight is low for their height. If a person exhibits an anorexia BMI level, an anorexia treatment program will be recommended.  Additional testing in the form of X-rays to check bone density and psychological evaluations are also common to diagnose an individual with anorexia. Additionally, lab tests may be used to check electrolyte or protein levels in the blood that indicate malnutrition. 

What Treatment Options Lead to Anorexia Recovery?

Once it has been determined that an individual has anorexia, various treatment options can be explored. While anorexia is a complex condition, there are many paths to anorexia recovery. If you’re asking yourself, do I have anorexia and find yourself experiencing the aforementioned symptoms, help is available.  Here at Montare Behavioral Health, we offer a residential treatment program with individualized therapy to help you overcome this debilitating and life-threatening condition. Our treatment plans include the following therapeutics to address the root causes of anorexia and help patients develop a healthy relationship with food and their bodies:

  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Neurofeedback
  • Nutrition therapy
  • Holistic treatment 
  • Body image therapy
  • Recreational therapies

The Importance of Anorexia Recovery

Getting treatment for anorexia as soon as possible can reverse many of the effects of the disorder. Gaining back weight and maintaining healthy eating habits can undo much of the damage to the body and brain of an anorexic person. However, if anorexia goes untreated for too long, the changes to brain chemistry, digestion, hormonal balance, physical growth, and bone density can be irreversible.  For example, when it comes to the brain, researchers have found evidence of significant brain damage caused by anorexia nervosa’s effects on the brain’s reward system. As brain circuitry is altered, a person’s brain produces dopamine in response to starvation rather than due to eating, reinforcing disordered eating. This can lead to long-term alteration of food intake-control circuitry in the brain, allowing an anorexic individual to override hunger cues. Subsequently, without treatment, this may become permanent, making the individual in need of anorexia recovery resistant to treatment. 

Get Anorexia Treatment with Montare

If you or someone you love is exhibiting signs of anorexia, seeking anorexia treatment can give you your quality of life back. By addressing the causes of anorexia and establishing a sense of control in your life through treatment, this serious condition can be overcome. Anorexia treatment will vary based on your individual needs, which is why we create personalized treatment plans to guide you to anorexia recovery.  While cases of anorexia may have many common symptoms, each instance of this medical condition is unique. Our team is available to discuss insurance eligibility, treatment options, and your distinctive needs when it comes to any form of anorexia. To begin your anorexia recovery journey and find the treatment options that are best suited for you or your loved one, contact us today.

References:

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/eating-disorders https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/statistics-research-eating-disorders https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/eating-disorder-behaviors-alter-reward-response-brain