Anorexia: The Road To Nowhere

Anorexia: The Road To Nowhere
Anorexia: The Road To Nowhere

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Anorexia: where did the appetite go? It all starts with a diet for weight lossSymptoms of the diseaseAnorexia in childrenMale anorexiaTreatment of anorexia: a chance to return

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The media are seething. The wonderful Julia Lipnitskaya, who took off as a bright star on the sports firmament quite recently, left the big sport due to anorexia and is not going to return yet. Is this such a serious problem? Let's figure it out together with MedAboutMe.

Anorexia: where did the appetite go?

The name of the disease is derived from Greek roots: ἀν- (an-) means the absence of something, ὄρεξις (orexis) - “appetite”. Anorexia is a lack of desire to eat. The disease turns off one of the most ancient instincts - food. If the body does not receive enough nutrients, it begins to experience a lack of energy. The body uses all its resources to maintain life, but they are not unlimited. Sooner or later, protein-energy deficiency manifests itself in all its glory.

What makes people starve themselves?

There may be several reasons, but all of them in one way or another disrupt the work of the food center in the brain.

The development of anorexia can provoke diseases of the endocrine system - hypothyroidism, reduced function of the pituitary gland and hypothalamus. Diseases of the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract), including inflammation of the appendix, gastritis, liver disease, and pancreatitis, also become the cause that triggers anorexia. Cancer is also one of the risk factors. In general, any health disorder that causes severe pain can disrupt the work of the food center. In this case, neurodynamic anorexia develops.

In addition, some drugs that act on the central nervous system suppress the work of the food center: tranquilizers, antidepressants, caffeine-containing drugs, as well as drugs and amphetamines. Often, anorexia develops while taking medications that suppress appetite. At first, the appetite disappears from the effects of the drug, and then it does not appear at all.

But the most common is anorexia nervosa: a mental disorder based on severe depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or an overvalued idea - losing weight and achieving an "ideal" figure.

It all starts with a weight loss diet

Anorexia, caused by the desire to lose weight, appeared as a mass phenomenon not so long ago - along with the appearance on the catwalks of slender models, affectionately called by the people "hangers" or "laces". Not an ounce of fat, straight bony shoulders, protruding collarbones, sharp elbows and knees, sunken cheeks and eyes glowing with hunger. It is convenient to sew on such a model - no bulges complicate the work, no roundness will make the outfit lie differently than the couturier intended.

It is these figures that have come to be associated with beauty: "fashionable" means "beautiful". Viewers do not see the condition of the model's hair and nails, they do not know that her menstruation has stopped a long time ago due to excessive weight loss. They do not know at what cost this thinness is achieved, how much health suffers from it.

Models are forced to maintain certain parameters of the figure, otherwise they will lose their work. Like athletes, ballerinas, dancers who have to sacrifice their health for a career. But what makes other girls and women deplete their bodies in order to achieve a "model" figure?

Psychologists believe that anorexia is based on self-doubt, the fear of not meeting certain "norms", not coping, not reaching the "bar for success." The fear of overweight becomes unbearable, subjugates a person's entire life. By the way, do not think that only women are susceptible to anorexia. Men also suffer from this mental disorder, but less frequently. The majority of patients are young girls and women, aged 14 to 30 years.

What is the manifestation of the disease?

Symptoms of the disease

Everyone needs to know the signs of anorexia. Too often they go unnoticed or misinterpreted, too often time is wasted. Anorexia cannot be underestimated: among all mental disorders, it most often ends with the death of the patient. The mortality rate for this disease is about 20%, that is, every fifth patient dies. Some of them commit suicide, the rest die from multiple organ failure and cardiac arrest. And it all starts with these symptoms:

Obsessive fear of gaining at least a gram of excess weight. The patient is preoccupied with the constant calculation of calories. He avoids even traces of fat on his plate and constantly sits on strict diets, and also dreams of learning to do without food altogether. Inadequate perception of one's own body. The poor man constantly thinks that she is fat, thick, covered with terrible cellulite, even if all the cellulite has long disappeared, and you can prick her knees. Not a single mirror, not a single photo, not a single person can convince a person with anorexia that in fact everything is completely different. "You're deceiving me. I'm fat, I know. " Focusing attention solely on the patient's concern about the problem of his own imaginary obesity and on weight loss. All the talk is about calories, diets, grams and centimeters of waist / hip circumference. Refusal to eat, avoiding situations where people eat deliciously and offer to do it to others. Transforming food into a complex ritual designed to reduce the amount of food eaten. The patient exaggeratedly carefully chews each bite, serves food in a special way - for example, on doll plates to reduce portions. Inducing vomiting after eating. This is done by those whose development of anorexia is associated with previous bulimia - overeating associated with a feeling of insatiable hunger. Hair becomes dry and dull. Nails break and exfoliate, become bluish. The skin loses its elasticity, flakes off, and age spots may appear on it. Cheekbones sharpen, eyes fall through. On the body, vellus hair may appear. Patients have a decrease in body temperature and blood pressure, heart rhythm is disturbed. They often experience dizziness and weakness, and faint. Due to poor blood circulation, anorexic person is constantly freezing. The girls stop menstruating. In both women and men, libido decreases, interest in sex disappears, and men have problems with erection.

At a certain stage of the disease, when all fat reserves are gone and muscle atrophy develops, all organs begin to suffer from protein deficiency, and many of the changes that occur are irreversible. Cells lack protein, they die and cease to function. Dystrophy affects the heart, causing bradycardia and arrhythmias.

It is noteworthy that the patient does not admit the fact of his illness and refuses treatment, as is often the case with drug addiction and alcoholism. Even patients in a serious, life-threatening condition often have to be hospitalized forcibly, since they are not able to realize that their lives are in danger.

When, after the start of treatment, the patient's condition begins to improve, it often causes an increase in depression due to the fact that "all efforts are wasted."The patient, feeling better, seeks to maximize physical activity, may start taking laxatives and induce vomiting after eating. Doctors have to strictly control the patient's behavior, as he does everything to reduce the efforts of doctors to zero.

Anorexia in children

Modern pediatricians know how serious the problem of anorexia in children is and how difficult it is to treat it. Anorexia can be caused by various ailments, in this case it has a secondary character and is considered as a manifestation of the underlying disease.

But there is also primary anorexia in children, which develops against the background of malnutrition of the child. An excess of light carbohydrates, monotonous and tasteless food, stress, and force-feeding can have a negative impact on the diet. The desire at all costs to feed the child "as expected", despite his resistance and active reluctance, contributes to the development of a negative reflex to everything related to food intake. Such children start crying as soon as it comes to food. From one view of a full plate or a spoon approaching the mouth, the baby begins to sob and dodge, he has vomiting urges even before the food enters his mouth.

Male anorexia

Yes, men suffer from anorexia less often than women who are preoccupied with achieving the cherished model parameters. But male anorexia is gaining momentum, and the condition is often complicated by concomitant bulimia, which men suffer three times more often than women.

The reasons for the development of the disease are the same as in beautiful ladies - the desire to achieve invented ideal body parameters. Men also refuse food, begin to tremblingly count calories and exhaust themselves with excessive physical exertion.

Male anorexia differs from female anorexia in that, on average, the disease begins to manifest itself at an older age. Although in recent years there has been a tendency to shift the onset of the disease to adolescence. Another difference is that in men, anorexia is much more likely to be associated with schizophrenia.

Risk factors for anorexia in men include:

excess weight in childhood and the complexes formed because of this; hereditary predisposition to mental illness; passion for exhausting sports: a marathon runner has a higher risk of developing anorexia than a weightlifter or volleyball player; belonging to a profession for which appearance is important and its compliance with certain requirements: artists, models.

Often this is joined by concern about real or imaginary flaws in appearance that are not related to being overweight: with a small stature, for example.

Anorexia treatment: a chance for a comeback

The fight against this disorder is very complicated by the fact that in the overwhelming majority of cases the patient does not admit his illness, does not seek help and refuses treatment. And the success of therapy is possible only with an integrated approach. In addition to medications and the restoration of a normal diet, the help of a psychotherapist is needed, and not only for the patient himself, but also for his family members.

The first stage of treatment is to improve the physical condition, stop weight loss and eliminate the immediate threat to life. At the next stage, a psychotherapist begins to work with the patient, simultaneously with drug treatment. The task of psychotherapy is to break the obsession with weight and body parameters, teach the patient to accept himself and the surrounding reality, and develop self-confidence.

Unfortunately, the disease often recurs, and because of this, in many cases, several long courses of rehabilitation are required.

Star victims of anorexia Yulia Lipnitskaya

Everyone knows the name of the wonderful figure skater Yulia Lipnitskaya, the youngest Olympic champion in the history of figure skating.At the age of 15, having brilliantly skated the free program that amazed everyone at the Sochi Olympics, Yulia became the hope of Russian figure skating. What happened to the athlete? Today she is only 19 years old, and she has already announced the end of her sports career. The skates went to the far corner. Julia no longer wants to go on the ice.

The problem came along with physiological maturation. When light, like a moth, the girl began to turn into a woman, excess weight began to appear.

OpinionAlexander Zhulin, Russian figure skater

Having matured, Julia lost her lightness and the ability to phenomenally rotate in jumps. Namely, they were her hobbyhorse, her specialty. Lipnitskaya had to lose a lot of weight, so much so that she developed seizures. In 2016, she had to leave the program due to the fact that her legs were cramping. Due to thinness, muscle strength was lost. In such a state, it is simply impossible to jump. Julia realized that the weight, which has now become natural and comfortable for her, will not allow her to jump as before, and constantly starving is unacceptable. Anorexia is too dangerous.

Opinion Zurab Ordzhonikidze, physician, sports medicine specialist

Yulia Lipnitskaya most likely developed the most common form of the disease - neuropsychological. The disorder is expressed in the fact that a conscious desire to limit oneself in food over time develops into an obsessive state, followed by health disorders. I think that in the case of Julia we are not talking about something terrible and irreversible. But even with this degree of anorexia, patients have to be under the supervision of doctors for many years.

Yulia Antipova

Another Russian athlete, also a figure skater, Yulia Antipova, who skated together with Nodar Maisuradze, became a victim of anorexia. Julia blames her coach, Natalia Pavlova, for what happened. When the girl began to grow up and take on feminine forms, the coach put the skater on a strict diet. As a result, the girl weighed only 25 kg at the age of 17. Israeli doctors took over the treatment, and Yulia's family had to ask for help from all those who were not indifferent, as their own funds were not enough. Despite the difficult treatment, Julia intends to overcome the disease and stay in sports, only to move from figure skating to ice dancing.

Nadia Comanechi

Lightweight, impetuous, flexible, this athlete was the main rival of Soviet gymnasts and often took victory from them. Nadia Comanachi brought Romania 5 Olympic victories. And after the end of a career, health problems began, as is often the case with those who gave years of their lives to great sports. Nadia began to gain weight, and this became the reason for the development of anorexia. The former athlete was treated for a long time, but the doctors still managed to help Nadya. And this can be considered a victory, because less than half of the victims of anorexia achieve recovery.

Christie Heinrich

The American gymnast was unable to cope with the disease, which was prompted by the judge's phrase thrown in Christy's face at the competition. The arbiter said that the girl was too fat for gymnastics. This influenced the psyche of a young American so much that weight loss became a mania. Christie practically stopped eating, she developed multiple organ failure. At the age of 22, Christie Heinrich passed away.

Gymnastics and figure skating can be considered risk factors for the development of anorexia. In the United States, statistical studies have been conducted that have shown that more than 60% of athletes in these sports are familiar with anorexia to one degree or another. Synchronized swimming and dancing are also at risk.

Opinion Zurab Ordzhonikidze, physician, sports medicine specialist

The blame for the development of anorexia in young athletes often lies with those around them: the parents and the coach. Parents are blinded by the success of a promising young athlete, they stop monitoring his health and think only about continuing a career and reaching new heights in sports.

A coach can save the situation, but for this he must be well educated and know physiology, since athletes in individual sports are not always under constant medical supervision. The role of a coach is very important, but many of them are concerned only with receiving new medals and awards, and not at all with the athletic longevity of their pupils.

Mary-Kate Olsen

The actress became a victim of anorexia soon after she achieved popularity and fame. The stress of constant attention, a busy schedule, and separation from a sister led to the development of anorexia. Mary-Kate was admitted to the clinic in a serious condition, but after a course of rehabilitation she managed to cope with the disease.

Victoria Beckham

There was a time when Victoria had a femininely rounded shape. But the producer of Spice Girls thought that the girl would become more popular if she lost twenty kilograms and removed fat from the sides. Which he advised her, and publicly. Victoria took these words so seriously that since then she has not got off the strictest diet. At the peak of her illness, the girl managed a day with a slice of apple and a couple of lettuce leaves.

As a result, with a height of 165 cm, Victoria's weight dropped to 45 kg, and at the same time she acquired polycystic ovary disease, which for a long time prevented the onset of pregnancy.

Angelina Jolie

The beautiful Angelina began to lose weight after surviving her mother's death. The worries deprived Jolie of her appetite so much that her weight dropped simply catastrophically - first to 42 kg with a height of 172 cm, and then to 35 kg in general. The actress hardly eats - she may not eat anything for the whole day except one and a half liters of seaweed broth or black tea without sugar. Doctors fear that if Angelina loses a few more pounds, she may die.

Dana Borisova

The Russian TV presenter fell victim to anorexia while preparing for the wedding. From nervous tension, Dana could not eat, her body did not take food. An apple, one for three days, a little sour cream that you could swallow - that's all that the famous blonde ate. Dana began to lose consciousness often and realized that something bad was happening to her. The doctors were able to help the girl. But the consequences still remained: chronic pancreatitis.

Expert opinion Elena Pryadkina, psychotherapist

The cause of anorexia most often lies in the problems of relationships within the family. If we are talking about a teenager, then psychotherapists need to work not only with him, but also with his parents. Unfortunately, not all adults are ready to recognize their role in the development of anorexia in a child and change their attitude.

This disease is one of the most cruel ways to die, it is a time bomb. Even if the course of treatment leads to the end of the hunger strike, the insidious disease can return in the future in a different form. Someone will become a regular client of a plastic surgeon and will endlessly reshape their body. The other will withdraw into himself and will not learn to build close relationships.

Anorexia is deadly. It cannot be underestimated.

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