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Homeopathic Treatment of Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by immoderate food restriction and irrational fear of gaining weight, as well as a distorted body self-perception. It typically involves excessive weight loss and is usually found more in females than in males. Because of the fear of gaining weight, people with this disorder restrict the amount of food they consume. This restriction of food intake causes metabolic and hormonal disorders.

People with anorexia nervosa attempt to maintain a weight that's far below normal for their age and height. To prevent weight gain or to continue losing weight, people with anorexia nervosa may starve themselves or exercise excessively.

Causes of Anorexia Nervosa:

Anorexia nervosa isn't really about food. It's an unhealthy way to try to cope with emotional problems. When you have anorexia nervosa, you often equate thinness with self-worth.

The exact causes of anorexia nervosa are not known. Many factors probably are involved.

As with many diseases, it's probably a combination of biological, psychological and environmental factors.

Biological: There may be genetic changes that make some people more vulnerable to developing anorexia. However, it's not clear specifically how your genes could cause anorexia. It may be that some people have a genetic tendency toward perfectionism, sensitivity and perseverance, all traits associated with anorexia. There's also some evidence that serotonin — one of the brain chemicals involved in depression — may play a role in anorexia.

Psychological: Some emotional characteristics may contribute to anorexia. Young women may have obsessive-compulsive personality traits that make it easier to stick to strict diets and forgo food despite being hungry. They may have an extreme drive for perfectionism, which means they may never think they're thin enough.

Environmental: Modern Western culture emphasizes thinness. The media are splashed with images of thin models and actors. Success and worth are often equated with being thin. Peer pressure may help fuel the desire to be thin, particularly among young girls.

Risk factors for anorexia include:

  • Being more worried about, or paying more attention to, weight and shape
  • Having an anxiety disorder as a child
  • Having a negative self-image
  • Having eating problems during infancy or early childhood
  • Having certain social or cultural ideas about health and beauty
  • Trying to be perfect or overly focused on rules
  • Anorexia usually begins during the teen years or young adulthood. It is more common in females, but may also be seen in males. The disorder is seen mainly in white women who are high academic achievers and who have a goal-oriented family or personality.

Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa:

Some people with anorexia lose weight mainly through severely restricting the amount of food they eat. They may also try to lose weight by exercising excessively.

Physical signs and symptoms of anorexia include:

  • Extreme weight loss
  • Thin appearance
  • Abnormal blood counts
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • A bluish discoloration of the fingers
  • Hair that thins, breaks or falls out
  • Soft, downy hair covering the body
  • Absence of menstruation
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Intolerance of cold
  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dehydration
  • Osteoporosis
  • Swelling of arms or legs

Emotional and behavioral anorexia symptoms:

Emotional and behavioral characteristics associated with anorexia include:

  • Refusal to eat
  • Denial of hunger
  • Afraid of gaining weight
  • Lying about how much food has been eaten
  • Excessive exercise
  • Flat mood (lack of emotion)
  • Social withdrawal
  • Irritability
  • Preoccupation with food
  • Reduced interest in sex
  • Depressed mood
  • Possible use of laxatives, diet aids or herbal products

Other symptoms of anorexia may include:

  • Blotchy or yellow skin that is dry and covered with fine hair
  • Confused or slow thinking, along with poor memory or judgment
  • Depression
  • Dry mouth
  • Extreme sensitivity to cold (wearing several layers of clothing to stay warm)
  • Loss of bone strength
  • Wasting away of muscle and loss of body fat

To be diagnosed with anorexia, a person must:

  • Have an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even when she is underweight
  • Refuse to keep weight at what is considered normal for her age and height (15% or more below the normal weight)
  • Have a body image that is very distorted, be very focused on body weight or shape, and refuse to admit the seriousness of weight loss
  • Have not had a period for three or more cycles (in women)
  • People with anorexia may severely limit the amount of food they eat, or eat and then make themselves throw up. Other behaviors include:
  • Cutting food into small pieces or moving them around the plate instead of eating
  • Exercising all the time, even when the weather is bad, they are hurt, or their schedule is busy
  • Going to the bathroom right after meals
  • Refusing to eat around other people
  • Using pills to make themselves urinate (water pills or diuretics), have a bowel movement (enemas and laxatives), or decrease their appetite (diet pills)

Treatment of Anorexia Nervosa:

Anorexia nervosa can be difficult to overcome. But with treatment, you can gain a better sense of who you are, return to healthier eating habits and reverse some of anorexia's serious complications.

When you have anorexia, you may need several types of treatment. If your life is in immediate danger, you may need treatment in a hospital emergency room for such issues as a heart rhythm disturbance, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances or psychiatric problems.

Medical care for Anorexia Nervosa:

Because of the host of complications anorexia causes, you may need frequent monitoring of vital signs, hydration level and electrolytes, as well as related physical conditions. In severe cases, people with anorexia may initially require feeding through a tube that's placed in their nose and goes to the stomach (nasogastric tube

Restoring a healthy weight

The first goal of treatment is getting back to a healthy weight. You can't recover from an eating disorder without restoring an appropriate weight and learning proper nutrition. A psychologist can work with you to develop behavioral strategies to help you return to a healthy weight. A dietitian can offer guidance on a healthy diet, including providing specific meal plans and calorie requirements that will help you meet your weight goals. Your family will also likely be involved in helping you maintain healthy-eating habits.

Psychotherapy for Anorexia Nervosa

Individual, family-based and group therapy may all be beneficial.

  • Individual therapy: This type of therapy can help you deal with the behavior and thoughts that contribute to anorexia. You can gain a healthier self-esteem and learn positive ways to cope with distress and other strong feelings. A type of talk therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is commonly used.
  • Family-based therapy: This therapy begins with the assumption that the person with the eating disorder is no longer capable of making sound decisions regarding his or her health and needs help from the family. An important part of family-based therapy is that the family is involved in making sure that healthy-eating patterns are followed. This type of therapy can help resolve family conflicts and muster support from concerned family members. Family-based therapy can be especially important for children with anorexia who still live at home.
  • Group therapy: This type of therapy gives you a way to connect to others facing eating disorders. And informal support groups may sometimes be helpful. However, be careful with informal groups that aren't led by a mental health professional. For some people with anorexia, support groups might result in competitions to be the thinnest person there.

Medications for Anorexia Nervosa:

 

Homeopathic Treatment of Anorexia Nervosa:

Homeopathy treats the person as whole, not limited to, the symptoms of the eating disorder. Not only the symptoms of Anorexia but also the general physical and mental constitution of the patient, past medical history, medical history of parents, information about pregnancy and vaccination - all are used to find the probable cause in a given case and based on the final analysis a remedy is chosen for a patient. Therefore, the remedy works to get to the core of why the compulsion is there in the first place. Whether the issue stems from an emotional, genetic or physiological trauma or imbalance, the homeopathic remedy can have a dramatically positive effect on the patient. By working to balance the entire system, Homeopathy is not just treating the symptoms of the eating disorder. It also works to create equilibrium in the patient. Therefore, when the system is in a state of balance rather than chaos, the compulsions of starving, bingeing and the delusions of distorted self-image begin to relieve themselves from the body.

Hospitalization:

In cases of medical complications, psychiatric emergencies, severe malnutrition or continued refusal to eat, hospitalization may be needed. Hospitalization may be on a medical or psychiatric ward. Some clinics specialize in treating people with eating disorders. Some may offer day programs or residential programs, rather than full hospitalization. Specialized eating disorder programs may offer more intensive treatment over longer periods of time. Also, even after hospitalization ends, ongoing therapy and nutrition education are highly important to continued recovery.