Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder where food intake is severely restricted and there is an irrational fear of gaining weight. Calorie intake is also restricted by way of vomiting after eating or through the use of laxatives. It also includes a distorted perception of body image. Anorexics believe that they are fat even when they are very thin and other features are excessive exercise, poor sleeping, low moods and avoiding social interactions. The food restriction will eventually cause metabolic and hormonal disorders.
Anorexia Nervosa is a mental health condition not just the desire to be slim. It can endure for a lifetime and there are people who manage to escape from it. Trying to get better is much much harder than staying in the illness.
When it enters the life of a family it changes everything, not only for the sufferer but for those around them. Anorexia is a need, akin to a compulsion, to achieve a low body weight by avoiding food – or avoiding certain foods that are believed to be fattening. It is maintained by the sufferer believing that they are fat no matter how thin they are.
What also keeps people stuck is a deep fear of change and terror of being at a normal weight as well as feeling special and in control. Anorexia has costs but it also has benefits. This is what makes it an “illness of contradictions”.
Most people would be worried by low weight or emaciation but people with anorexia seem proud of their bony appearance. They may insist, despite the concern and alarm of others, that they are perfectly OK. This sense of being able to survive with very little food can persist even when they are in a dangerous state of health and even at risk of losing life.
The aim of treatment is to help the client acknowledge there is a problem with their relationship with food and to help remove the distorted perception on their body image so they can master their own thoughts and feelings which are driving them to lose weight and eat unhealthily.
Anorexia treatment will target the underlying issues behind the problem and this may involve confronting old issues or events within the past. The therapy is designed to help you move forward by developing a new sense of well being and self confidence and to provide you with the tools to deal with situations when negative feelings arise.
There is no quick fix for anorexia, but working with our specialist counsellors can make a big difference. The treatment would start with a full personal assessment which would then be followed up with tailored personal one to one sessions which will provide simple techniques on how to maintain motivation to change, how to cope with stressful situations, emotional strengthening, how to manage unhelpful thinking, obsessions, body image perceptions, self esteem and how to deal with any other issues which have been identified in your personal assessment.