Anorexia Nervosa

Seeking Help for Anorexia Nervosa

SEEKING HELP FOR ANOREXIA NERVOSA WITHOUT PURGING

 
Anorexia nervosa is a life-threatening condition and cannot be left untreated.   An individual with anorexia nervosa without purging (click here to go to identification) can quickly reach a dangerously low level of weight and it is usually the skeletal appearance of the individual that alerts family and friends. In cases of extremely low weight, medical intervention will be necessary and the family physician should be sought out immediately. If necessary, the individual will be hospitalised (see below). If the situation is recognised early enough, however, then a visit to the family doctor or a psychologist, who specialises in eating disorders, is a good starting point. Most people wish first to deal with the visible aspects of an eating disorder i.e. the low weight. Anorexia nervosa should never be treated by dietary input alone! It is a multi-factorial problem that requires a multi-disciplinary approach. That is, the following team of professionals should be consulted:
 
1.      The family physician or G.P.: Your family doctor will carry out the necessary tests which may include electrolyte balances, kidney and liver function tests, and blood counts to exclude the possibility of any medical factors that may be causing the problem. Your G.P. can refer you to a reputable professional or service. You can also self-refer to Mindalot and we will ensure that your G.P. is involved and/or informed. 
2.      A psychologist. A psychologist can be approached directly if the problem is recognised in its early stages, (i.e. the family notices a radical drop in weight which has not yet reached dangerous proportions). The professional will assess the problem and suggest if physical tests are necessary. Anorexia Nervosa requires long-term therapy and a multi-disciplinary approach. The psychologist will recommend the required length of time.  See causes to understand the kind of psychological factors that are at play with eating disorders. Do not dabble with this problem. Seek the right help as soon as possible. Psychologists who work with eating disorders work in conjunction with a dietitian. 
3.      A dietitian. As commented above, eating disorders should never be treated from the dietary aspect alone. Dealing with the food problem without dealing with the underlying psychological factors can result in the problem becoming entrenched and difficult to treat. Dietitians who specialise in eating disorders will work in conjunction with a psychologist. At Mindalot we are a multi-disciplinary team (contact us).
4.      A psychiatrist, if necessary. Usually the family physician and the psychologist can assess whether this problem requires the additional input of a psychiatrist. If a person has reached a body weight that requires in-patient treatment then a psychiatrist is usually one of the multi-disciplinary team who will treat the clinical aspect of the eating disorder.
 
An individual who is severely anorexic will not be allowed to exercise until a healthier weight has been achieved.
 
An attempt to change only the symptom is one of the reasons why people with an eating disorder constantly reappear at different treatment programmes. Please bear in mind that there are psychological and historical causes to anorexia nervosa. It is neverjust about restricting food! It is also about your relationship with yourself and how this manifests in your relationship with food.
 

 

SEEKING HELP FOR ANOREXIA NERVOSA WITH PURGING 

Anorexia nervosa is a life-threatening condition and cannot be left untreated.   An individual with anorexia nervosa who purges (click here to go to identification) can quickly reach a dangerously low level of weight. It is usually the skeletal appearance of the individual that alerts family and friends but obsessive compulsive behaviour is also an important clue (click here to go to clinical features and other observable clues). In cases of extremely low weight, medical intervention will be necessary and the family physician should be sought out immediately. If necessary, the individual will be hospitalised (see below). However, if the situation is recognized early enough, then a visit to the family doctor or a psychologist, who specializes in eating disorders, is a good starting point. Most people wish first to deal with the visible aspects of an eating disorder i.e. the low weight. Anorexia nervosa should never be treated by dietary input alone! It is a multi-factorial problem that requires an inter-disciplinary approach. That is, the following team of professionals should be consulted:
 
1.      The family physician or G.P.: Your family doctor will carry out the necessary tests which may include electrolyte balances, kidney and liver function tests, and blood counts to exclude the possibility of any medical factors that may be causing the problem. Your G.P. can refer you to a reputable professional or service. You can also self-refer to Mindalot and we will ensure that your G.P. is involved and/or informed. 
2.      A psychologist. A psychologist can be approached directly if the problem is recognised in its early stages, (i.e. the family notice a radical drop in weight which has not yet reached dangerous proportions). S/he will assess the problem and suggest if physical tests are necessary. Anorexia nervosa cannot be solved in a few sessions and long-term therapy is usually required. The psychologist will recommend the required length of time.  See causes to understand the kind of psychological factors that are at play with anorexia nervosa. Do not dabble with this problem. Seek the right help as soon as possible. Psychologists who work with eating disorders work in conjunction with a dietitian. 
3.      A dietitian. As commented above, eating disorders should never be treated from the dietary aspect alone.  Dealing with the food problem without dealing with the underlying psychological factors can result in the problem becoming entrenched and difficult to treat. Dietitians who specialize in eating disorders will work in conjunction with a psychologist. 
4.      The family dentist: If the individual purges by means of vomiting (rather by laxatives or excessive exercise, click here to go to identification, or here for the medical complications of bulimia), then corrosion of the teeth should be checked.
5.      A psychiatrist, if necessary. Usually the family physician and the psychologist can assess whether this problem requires the additional input of a psychiatrist.
 
An individual who is severely anorexic will not be allowed to exercise until a healthier weight has been achieved.
 
An attempt to change only the symptom is one of the reasons why people with an eating disorder constantly reappear at different help stations. Please bear in mind that there are psychological and historical causes to anorexia nervosa (click here to read about causes). It is never just about too little food! It is also about your relationship with yourself and how this manifests in your relationship with food.

 

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