Anorexia is a serious disorder that accounts for more deaths than any other mental disorder. Call Northbound today to learn about treatment options for you or a loved one.
Anorexia (more formally called “anorexia nervosa”) is an eating disorder based in an obsession with weight and weight loss, causing the sufferer to starve him or herself. (Though men can be anorexic as well, the vast majority of sufferers are female.) Among the most fatal of all psychological disorders, anorexics engage in a variety of behaviors meant to control and limit calorie intake. These can include elaborate eating rituals, purging behaviors, obsessive exercise and simple refusal to eat.
Because of the anorexic’s fixation on dieting and thinness, many mistakenly believe that the primary issue is one of negative body image or low self esteem, and that the anorexic individual can simply be forced or persuaded to eat or gain weight. However, anorexia is a serious psychological condition that points to deeper issues. Relapse is common because many anorexics do not want treatment at first, and often go to great lengths to hide their disease. Finally, while effective treatment does include helping the anorexic return to a healthy weight, without therapeutic intervention and counseling, the problem is likely to persist.
Anorexia is associated with a number of serious complications and risks, including anemia, bone loss, amenorrhea, kidney problems, electrolyte abnormalities, malnutrition and heart problems (such as abnormal heart rhythms). The combination of the associated cardiac issues and electrolyte abnormalities can cause heart failure and death, even in those who are not severely underweight.
It is not unusual for anorexia to accompany substance abuse or addiction, making proper care of multiple diagnoses an important component of effective treatment. In addition, anorexia is often accompanied by co-occurring mental disorders such as: depression, anxiety, personality disorders or obsessive compulsive disorder.
Signs and symptoms of anorexia nervosa include:
- A fixation on weight and weight loss, accompanied by a fear of any weight gain
- Refusal to eat
- Significant weight loss and/or extreme thinness
- Denying that one is hungry or lying about whether one has eaten (and how much)
- An overall preoccupation with food, dieting and food preparation. An anorexic may even cook elaborate meals for others, of which she does not partake
- Excessive exercise
- Dizziness or fainting spells
- Loss of hair
- Food rituals (such as cutting food into tiny pieces, hiding food or refusing to eat in front of others)
- Purging behaviors, e.g. use of laxatives, ipecac, water pills or self-induced vomiting
- May become withdrawn, irritable or show a lack of emotion
- Abdominal distention
- Growth of lanugo, a soft, downy hair that covers the face and body
When entering treatment for anorexia, especially in conjunction with a substance abuse problem, the first priority is to protect the patient’s physical health. At Northbound, those who require detoxification and stabilization begin at oneEighty, our secure detox program, where clients receive 24-hour medical supervision.
Northbound prides itself on offering the full continuum of care, and every new client receives a clinical assessment that allows us to create an individualized treatment plan based on that person’s specific needs. This allows us to address co-occurring disorders simultaneously, adjusting the treatment plan as necessary and providing the best chance for the client to achieve a sustained recovery. Our wide spectrum of treatment includes gender-specific CORE programs that allow victims of anorexia to heal in a safe, nurturing and understanding environment. Programs like Northbound Academy even provide structure and guidance to students whose education was disrupted by the need to seek treatment, giving them new goals and hope for the future.
For many, anorexia can be a lifelong struggle, and most evidence demonstrates that psychotherapy is the most effective tool for those seeking help. Counseling and therapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy—which helps individuals learn to challenge destructive thoughts and break free of damaging behaviors—are a key part of the Northbound approach. We stress reintegration with everyday life, helping our patients learn the coping strategies to handle triggers and providing the network of support that will help keep them on a positive path even after leaving our program.
Get Treatment for Anorexia at Northbound
It can be difficult to watch anorexia slowly destroy the health and body of someone you love—and when combined with substance abuse, the effects can be truly frightening. However, there is help. Contact Northbound Treatment Services and take the first step toward a new and healthy beginning.