Anorexia Nervosa

DSM – V Criteria

  • Restriction of energy intake relative to requirements leading to a significantly low body weight in the context of age, sex, developmental trajectory, and physical health
  • Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though underweight.
  • Disturbance in the way in which one’s body weight or shape is experienced, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation, or denial of the seriousness of the current low body weight.

Signs and Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa

  • Cold Intolerance
  • Thin, underweight appearance
  • Denies feelings of hunger
  • Views self as overweight/fat
  • Body checking
  • Adheres to restrictive meal plan
  • Describes food as “good or bad”
  • Feelings of guilt after eating
  • Avoids “greasy or oily” foods
  • Has obsessive/compulsive thoughts
  • Becomes anxious around food
  • Avoids public and family eating situations
  • Unable to eat with others
  • Cooks for other people but does not eat the food
  • Becomes increasingly isolative and moody.
  • Engages in food rituals
  • Excessive use of condiments.
  • Weight loss and/or preoccupied with losing weight.
  • Excessive and compulsive exercise regimes — despite fatigue, illness, or injury
  • Tries to hide weight loss behind baggy clothes
  • Appears pale and frail, has decreased energy.
  • Loss of interest in past hobbies
  • Displays rigid control around food
  • Counts calories, restricts calories
  • Weighs obsessively, panics without a scale
  • Terrified of gaining weight.

Consequences/Complications of Eating Disorders Medical Complications

While Eating Disorders are identified as a psychological disorder, it is also a serious medical condition that can come with a number of severe and potentially fatal physical complications. We have a medical professionals present throughout or treatment program to monitor physical symptoms and provide access to necessary medical interventions to ensure the physical health our clients throughout their treatment journey. Below is a list of some of the common medical complications present in individuals suffering from eating disorders. Many medical complications can arise before and during the treatment process, most of which will subside as an individual heals, but research also shows that there can be life long medical complications from the damage done through eating disorder behaviors.

  • Hair loss
  • Amenorrhea.
  • Osteoporosis.
  • Low potassium.
  • Arrhythmia.
  • Dehydration.
  • Digestive difficulties
  • Edema
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Infertility
  • Kidney infection and/or failure
  • Lanugo
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low body temperature
  • Seizures
  • Sleep problems
  • Dental Problems.
  • Acid Reflux
  • Tearing of esophagus

Cognitive Consequences

A major aspect of eating disorders is the distorted thought processes and beliefs that contribute to the development and then later become reinforced by the cycle of the disorder. Individuals with eating disorders at some point develop a fear of food and/ or eating. This develops into the idea of eating becoming a psychological threat that is associated with adverse physical sensations. What is viewed as “safe’ become more and more restrictive and the process of eating itself becomes a traumatic experience. Breaking the rigid rules of the eating disorder can be seen as failures and trigger adverse emotional responses in individuals who have a strong drive for perfectionism.

Emotional Consequences

Individuals suffering from eating disorders are often highly emotionally intuitive and emotionally sensitive, which can make them vulnerable to utilizing behaviors that have an emotionally numbing affect. This sense of numbness is often valued and sought out for individuals who have difficulty tolerating and managing emotions. Pro – eating disordered belief systems develop, linking eating disorder behaviors (restricting, binging, purging) to being able to manage emotions. This disordered approach to managing emotions can become volatile or less effective over time causing individuals to increase the frequency and or intensity of their behaviors or add in new behaviors to manage their discomfort.
Another consequence associated with eating disorders and starvation/ deprivation is the intense preoccupation with food. This preoccupation can manifest in both thoughts and dreams. This intense obsession and preoccupation leads to constant signals to the brain to stay vigilant and not give into their drive to eat. This contributes to restriction and binge purge cycles and to the development of fear around food and eating.

Haven Hills Recovery – Trauma Informed Care for Women