Are There Complications Related To Treating Anorexia
The most serious complication of treating anorexia is a condition called refeeding syndrome. This life-threatening condition can occur when a seriously malnourished person begins to receive nutrition again. Basically, their body cannot properly restart the metabolism process.
People experiencing refeeding syndrome can develop the following conditions:
Since refeeding syndrome can have serious and life-threatening side effects, its essential for people with anorexia to receive medical treatment and/or guidance.
People who have one or more of the following risk factors for developing refeeding syndrome may need to be treated in a hospital:
- Are severely malnourished .
- Have had little or no calorie intake for more than 10 days.
- Have a history of refeeding syndrome.
- Have lost a lot of weight in a very short period of time .
- Drink significant amounts of alcohol.
- Have a history of misusing laxatives, diet pills, diuretics, or insulin .
- Have abnormal electrolyte levels before starting refeeding.
Effects On The Family Environment
A common theme addressed by siblings in several qualitative studies was the dominance of EDs in family everyday life. While this theme does not refer directly to the non-ED sibling, but rather to the family as a whole, we did include it in the review as it is based on siblings reports. Thus, we believe it should be viewed as part of their experience as siblings, and as family members. Studies have shown that the ED is described by siblings as omnipresent, affecting every aspect of daily life and reigning family routine and conduct . Siblings often reported feeling family life revolved around the diagnosed sibling and the disorder, leaving little room for other issues, and creating a constant atmosphere of abnormalcy . In interviews regarding family dynamics many said the disorder brought about a strained and volatile family climate, in which they had to constantly walk on eggshells . Siblings further described that the intense preoccupation with the diagnosed siblings mental and physical health often gave rise to arguments, notably between parents, as well as between the diagnosed sibling and the parents . As could be expected due to the nature of EDs, non-ED siblings saw mealtimes as the main arena for arguments and conflict, and some felt mealtimes dominated family life .
Siblings Relationships With Family Members
Relationship With Diagnosed Siblings
Relationship With Parents
Siblings Family Role
What Is The Outlook For People With Anorexia
The prognosis for anorexia varies depending on certain factors, including:
- How long the person has had anorexia.
- The severity of the condition.
- The type of treatment and adherence to treatment.
Anorexia, like other eating disorders, gets worse the longer its left untreated. The sooner the disorder is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome. However, people with anorexia often will not admit they have a problem and might resist treatment or refuse to follow the treatment plan.
Anorexia is a serious and potentially life-threatening eating disorder if its left untreated. Eating disorders, including anorexia, are among the deadliest mental health conditions, second only to opioid addiction. Individuals with anorexia are 5 times more likely to die prematurely and 18 times more likely to die by suicide.
The good news is that anorexia can be treated, and someone with anorexia can return to a healthy weight and healthy eating patterns. Unfortunately, the risk of relapse is high, so recovery from anorexia usually requires long-term treatment as well as a strong commitment by the individual. Support of family members and friends can help ensure that the person receives and adheres to their needed treatment.
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Physical Health Repercussions Of Eating Disorder
Without an adequate intake of food, and often in the face of excessive daily exercise, patients can suffer physical health repercussion from eating disorders rather quickly. The physical symptoms may initially manifest as stomach cramps, dizziness, fainting spells, dry skin, brittle nails, and muscle weakness. Weight loss may not actually be immediately noticeable, but will likely become obvious as the eating disorder progresses in severity.
As the low-calorie intake, and resulting vitamin deficiencies, continue to worsen, so do the physical symptoms. People with eating disorders start to grow fine hair all over their body, suffer tooth decay and damage, experience salivary gland swelling and other serious complications. Dehydration is almost always a concern as eating disorder symptoms worsen and take hold of daily life.
In the end, untreated eating disorders can even cause lasting damage to the internal organs, including the heart, kidneys, and liver. These physical symptoms tend to worsen the disordered thoughts and behaviors, as self-confidence decreases even further. The physical symptoms can also impair daily life by preventing freedom of movement and independent living. People with severe dizziness, for example, may not be able to drive themselves around until they are ready to complete treatment with help from an experienced therapist. Mental health complications can also impede daily life for people with untreated eating disorders.
How Can I Care For A Loved One Who Has Anorexia
There are multiple things you can do to help and support someone with anorexia, including:
- Learn about anorexia: Educate yourself about anorexia to better understand what they are going through. Dont assume you know what they are experiencing.
- Be empathetic: Dont downplay or dismiss their feelings and experiences. Let them know that you are there to listen and support them. Try to put yourself in their shoes.
- Encourage them to seek help and/or treatment: While having an understanding and supportive friend or family member is helpful to a person with anorexia, anorexia is a medical condition. Because of this, people with anorexia need treatment such as therapy and nutritional counseling to manage their condition. Encourage them to talk to their healthcare provider if they are experiencing the signs and symptoms of anorexia.
- Be patient: It can take a while for someone with anorexia to get better once theyve started treatment. Know that it is a long and complex process and that their symptoms and behaviors will eventually improve.
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How Is Eating Disorders Diagnosed
Because eating disorders can be so serious, it is important to seek help if you or a loved one thinks that you might have a problem. Your health care provider may use many tools to make a diagnosis:
- A medical history, which includes asking about your symptoms. It is important to be honest about your eating and exercise behaviors so your provider can help you.
- A physical exam
- Blood or urine tests to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms
- Other tests to see whether you have any other health problems caused by the eating disorder. These can include kidney function tests and an electrocardiogram .
What Are The Warning Signs Of Anorexia
There are many potential warning signs of anorexia, including feeling preoccupied with food, exercise, or body weight. Experiencing feelings of guilt or shame after eating, avoiding situations that involve food, and withdrawing from friends, hobbies, or activities are a few other possible warning signs.
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What Are The Complications Of Anorexia
The medical complications and health risks of malnutrition and starvation, which are common in people who have anorexia, can affect nearly every organ in your body. In severe cases, vital organs such as your brain, heart and kidneys can sustain damage. This damage may be irreversible even after a person has recovered from anorexia.
Severe medical complications that can happen from untreated anorexia include:
In addition to physical complications, people with anorexia also commonly have other mental health conditions, including:
- Depression, anxiety and other mood disorders.
- Personality disorders.
- Alcohol use disorder and substance misuse.
If these mental health conditions are left untreated, they could lead to self-injury, suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts.
If youre having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Someone will be available to talk with you 24/7.
What Is Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia nervosa is a condition where people avoid food, severely restrict food, or eat very small quantities of only certain foods. They also may weigh themselves repeatedly. Even when dangerously underweight, they may see themselves as overweight.
There are two subtypes of anorexia nervosa: a restrictive subtype and a binge-purge subtype.
Restrictive: People with the restrictive subtype of anorexia nervosa severely limit the amount and type of food they consume.
Binge-Purge: People with the binge-purge subtype of anorexia nervosa also greatly restrict the amount and type of food they consume. In addition, they may have binge-eating and purging episodeseating large amounts of food in a short time followed by vomiting or using laxatives or diuretics to get rid of what was consumed.
Symptoms of anorexia nervosa include:
- Extremely restricted eating and/or intensive and excessive exercise
- Extreme thinness
- A relentless pursuit of thinness and unwillingness to maintain a normal or healthy weight
- Intense fear of gaining weight
- Distorted body or self-image that is heavily influenced by perceptions of body weight and shape
- Denial of the seriousness of low body weight
Over time, anorexia nervosa can lead to numerous serious health consequences, including:
- Thinning of the bones
- Mild anemia
- Brain damage
- Multiple organ failure
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How Eating Disorders Affect Family
Eating disorders can have a devastating effect on the individual that experiences them, but they also influence others. In this article, we discuss how eating disorders affect family, friends and loved ones.
Watching a person that you love suffer is always going to be painful, but with an eating disorder the stress is often worsened because to anyone who has not experienced an eating disorder it seems as if it should be so simple and easy to get better. It is not, eating disorders affect the suffererâs brain and can potentially turn the act of eating food into something terrifying.
Parents and families often need to do some work to educate themselves as to why the sufferer cannot simply just eat and get better. There are resources that can help families understand the physical and mental effects that an eating disorder has. Doing some research and learning about eating disorders will put the entire family unit in a better place to recover.
As a parent, do not underestimate how important your role in your childâs recovery will be, the more information that you have the better you will be prepared to deal with the task helping him or her recover.
Malnutrition And Re-Feeding
Eating disorders are not caused by over controlling parents either. This is a very old fashioned view and should be dismissed immediately. It was once thought that parents were to blame for autism too! This is not true, and neither is it true that parents are to blame for eating disorders.
Seek Support From People You Trust
Reach out for support from a close friend, family member, school counsellor or others who have experienced an eating disorder in online support groups, like The Butterfly Foundation and the InsideOut Institute. Knowing that youre not alone on your recovery journey can be really powerful.
Try to be open about your feelings feelings of anger, fear, exhaustion, guilt, shame they are all part of being human. Being open and honest about these feelings with supportive people can help to remind you that youre not alone, and to find self-acceptance.
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The Role Of The Family In The Etiology And Treatment Of Eds
The role of the family in EDs has long been a subject of interest for clinicians and researchers alike. Over the years, family dynamics were studied as a possible factor in the etiology, maintenance, and treatment of EDs. Classic conceptualizations such as Minuchins model of the psychosomatic family have viewed EDs as an expression of an underlying pathological family structure, characterized by specific interaction patterns such as parental overprotection, rigidity, poor conflict resolution skills, and conflict avoidance . These familial processes were seen as playing a causal role in the development of EDs. Indeed, some studies supported the existence of such patterns in families with ED patients . Nevertheless, a systematic review of the subject found that although families with ED patients reported worse family functioning than controls, no typical pattern of family dysfunction emerged . Furthermore, in a position paper, the Academy for Eating Disorders renounced the use of any etiologic model of EDs in which the primary cause of the disorder is family conduct . In spite of the clinical dispute regarding the causal influence of family on EDs, it is widely agreed that involvement of ones family in the treatment of EDs is recommended, and appears to be useful in reducing psychological and medical symptoms .
The Powerful Ways Eating Disorders Affect Relationships
Its so true. Eating disorders have such a fundamental impact upon relationships. It is often a destructive, negative, limiting and brutal impact, and as relationships and connection are what makes life so worth living, its heartbreaking.
Relationships require energy and attention. Not only are energy levels often quite low, particularly for those with restrictive disorders, but all the energy is directed on food, weight and exercise. The mental space which can be used to build connection with others is taken up by thoughts of the eating disorder. A study looking at the treatment of those with severe and enduring eating disorders reports statistics on the subject population that are revealing, and very sad. In this study the average participant was 33 years old and had been ill for over 16 years. Roughly 60% had never married, 28% had children, 61% were unemployed and 51% reported no social relationship.
Eating disorders trigger and are predicated by a tendency for self-loathing and shame. Individuals know that their bodies may not be pleasing to others, or that their habits are not what would be considered normal, and so often put others at arms length to resist that judgement that may come. Dissatisfaction with the self may lead individuals to believe that they can not be loved anyway, and so not risk the vulnerability that comes with opening up to another person.
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Research Databases And Search Strategy
PubMed and PsycNet databases were searched to identify relevant English-language studies, with no publication date restrictions. The search included a term regarding an ED diagnosis , and a term defining the relevant participants , with the Boolean operator AND used between the terms. All possible combinations were used. Study titles and abstracts were screened, and if deemed potentially relevant underwent full-text review. In addition, each papers reference list was searched for additional relevant papers.
Learning How To Understand Their Feelings
You might be finding it hard to understand the person’s eating problem. This can also make it hard to be accepting towards how they might feel. Or how your attitude or behaviour might make them feel.
Try thinking about the following:
- Be patient with them. Remember that their own acceptance of the problem can take time. It can take a long time for them to accept it and seek help. They might not see their eating as a problem. They could see it as a solution to cope with certain feelings. For example rage, loss, powerlessness, self-hatred, worthlessness, guilt, or feeling like they have no control. They may be scared about what recovery means for them and their body.
- Be gentle with them. You can’t force someone to change their behaviour. You might try hard to persuade, trick or force someone into eating more or less. This could make them feel even more anxious and fearful about food. It could also make them withdraw from you. They might try harder to convince you they’re eating more healthily, even if they’re not.
- Don’t focus or comment on their appearance. Remember that someone’s weight or appearance doesn’t tell you how they’re feeling inside. With some comments such as “you look well”, you think you’re being kind. But they can trigger very difficult feelings for someone who has an eating problem. The eating problem charity Beat has more information on how to talk to someone with eating problems.
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How Do You Know If You Have An Eating Disorder
If you have an eating disorder, identifying the condition and seeking treatment sooner will improve your chances of recovering. Being aware of the warning signs and symptoms can help you decide whether you need to seek help.
Not everyone will have every sign or symptom at once, but certain behaviors may signal a problem, such as :
- behaviors and attitudes that indicate that weight loss, dieting, and control over food are becoming primary concerns
- preoccupation with weight, food, calories, fats, grams, and dieting
- refusal to eat certain foods
- discomfort with eating around others
- food rituals
- skipping meals or eating only small portions
- frequent dieting or fad diets
- extreme concern with body size, shape, and appearance
- frequently checking in the mirror for perceived flaws in appearance
- extreme mood swings
If these symptoms resonate with you and you think you may have an eating disorder, its important to reach out to a medical professional for help.
Making the decision to start eating disorder recovery might feel scary or overwhelming, but seeking help from medical professionals, eating disorder recovery support groups, and your community can make recovery easier.
If youre not sure where to start, you can contact the National Eating Disorders Association helpline for support, resources, and treatment options for yourself or someone you know.
To contact, call: 931-2237
MondayThursday 11 a.m.9 p.m. ET
Friday 11 a.m.5 p.m. ET
MondayThursday 3 p.m.6 p.m. ET
Pursing Improved Quality Of Life At An Eating Disorder Recovery Center
As quality of life declines in response to the impacts of eating disorders, patients can seek care at eating disorder treatment centers to become recovered. Eating disorder therapists can help their patients achieve their goals in achieving eating disorder recovery to regain their quality of life. Going through treatment for their eating disorders, and all underlying conditions also helps to restore the strength of bonds with people in the patients inner social circle.
Through bulimia, anorexia nervosa and selective eating disorder treatment programs, people can learn the coping and life skills they need to maintain proper eating and exercise patterns. The ability to achieve wellness comes much easier when people with eating disorders receive the support they need from a knowledgeable care team. People interested in acquiring support from a skilled therapist can call 888-228-1253 to speak to our admissions professionals. We will help all our patients reach their goals in entering an effective treatment program to achieve eating disorder recovery.
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