Anorexia is characterized by a distorted body image (the classic image of an anorexic woman is an underweight person who looks into the mirror and sees her own distorted reflection as an overweight / obese woman) and an abnormal pathological fear, which causes the patient to keep drastic diets, leading ultimately to excessive weight loss.
Causes of anorexia
The causes of anorexia remain unknown. Many theories have been made, mainly based on the imbalance between “orexigenic” substances (substances that stimulate appetite) and “anorexigenic” (substances that inhibit appetite).
Numerous socio-economic and cultural theories have also been proposed. Scientists also talk about the Photoshop and the Barbie doll effects, about the distortion of the body image by the media, by promoting the perfect women, without pores, without wrinkles, with an enviable body.
In the past, a possible zinc deficiency was discussed as a cause of anorexia, but subsequent studies involving zinc supplementation did not show any benefit of zinc intake on weight gain.
Recently, “epigenetic” (the interaction between genetic factors and environmental factors) and its influence on the development of anorexia is discussed.
There are also sites dedicated to anorexic persons that give psychological and medical support for people with anorexia.
The treatment aims at nutritional rehabilitation, psychosocial treatment through psychotherapy and drug therapy.
The first step is nutritional rehabilitation. “Negotiating” with the patient so that the person with anorexia ideally has a weight gain of about 200-400 grams/day.
Preferably there is also a psychologist with over-specialization in eating disorders that can help the patient with anorexia. It discusses individual therapy, group therapy and family talks.