With the ability to spot the signs and symptoms of anorexia nervosa, it’s so much easier for the people around a person with anorexia nervosa to help them get started on the path to recovery. Without treatment, this eating disorder can progress and cause serious health complications. One of the most vital factors in successful recovery is early intervention so it is important to understand how to detect the development of this condition and others like it.
Each person has a different path to anorexia nervosa recovery differently. Even so, there are symptoms of the disorder that are consistent in virtually any case. This guide can help families get started in learning what they need to know.
The Most Frequent Signs of Anorexia Nervosa
Individuals with anorexia nervosa restrict the amount of food they eat, often with an obsessive need to exercise to mitigate the minimal calories they do eat. The combination of these factors tends to lead to dramatic weight loss or an inability to gain weight. Secretive behavior around food and exercise is a red flag that indicates a need for a discussion about eating disorders and their treatment options.
Other common signs families can look for include:
- Sudden weight changes
- New eating habits, including spitting out food
- Cold intolerance
- Stomach cramps
- Poor concentration
- Anxiety about food and mealtimes
Urgent Health Risks Caused by Anorexia Nervosa
When left untreated, anorexia nervosa can cause serious health complications, including death. Most medical practitioners are up-to-date with these symptoms and can be counted on to make a referral to an eating disorder treatment center which can provide medical stabilization before engaging in psychological treatment.
Other symptoms can be detected with an exam and tests, such as:
- Slow heart rate
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Low BMI
- Excessive growth of fine hair on the face and body
- Electrolyte imbalances
- Poor kidney function
- Blood sugar imbalances
- Muscle loss
- Brittle bones
Doctors can get the conversation started about the need for help at anorexia nervosa treatment centers. Family members can offer the support their loved ones need to make this important decision.
What Steps Can I Take to Secure Anorexia Nervosa Treatment For Myself or a Loved One?
Regardless of whether they’ve contacted a doctor or therapist when family members start to see the signs and symptoms of anorexia nervosa, there are steps that can be taken to make sure they get the help they need. By creating an open dialogue and voicing their concerns, family members can understand how their loved one is feeling. With compassion and a non-judgmental approach, it may be possible to help them ask for treatment. You can start by calling a qualified eating disorder recovery program. Admissions specialists at eating disorder treatment centers can also help people with an anorexia nervosa diagnosis, or suspected diagnosis, understand the benefits of acquiring treatment.
Even though the family may be caring and compassionate, it takes specialized, professional treatment to recover from most eating disorders. Outside help is almost always needed. With a single call to the treatment center, it is possible to get the ball rolling in obtaining care for anorexia nervosa. Admissions specialists normally complete a full intake assessment even before the client starts treatment to find the best type of care. This process ensures that clients will end up in residential or day treatment programs as needed to achieve the best outcomes.
The care team then work together to design an effective, personalized treatment plan for anorexia nervosa and any underlying conditions affecting the client. Throughout treatment, clients continue to receive the highest level of care and support in moving toward becoming recovered. In many cases, an aftercare program consisting of education and support groups is also offered, helping to maintain recovery in the long run.
Although there are many approaches to the treatment of anorexia nervosa, each client will need a personalized plan to overcome their symptoms and unique challenges. With professional support and access to helpful aftercare services, people with anorexia nervosa can become and remain fully recovered.