What is Anorexia Nervosa?
Anorexia nervosa is one of the most common eating disorders and is defined by a refusal to maintain appropriate body weight. Characteristics of anorexia nervosa include: an intense fear of gaining weight, distorted body image, denial of illness and amenorrhea (absence of at least three consecutive menstrual cycles).
There are two subtypes of anorexia nervosa—the restricting type and the binge eating/purging type. In the restricting type of anorexia, body weight is maintained by restricting food intake. In the binge eating/purging subtype, food intake is restricted, but individuals also engage in binge eating followed by purging (using strategies such as self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, or excessive exercise).
What causes anorexia?
Anorexia is not caused by any one thing in particular, but some speculate that the condition surfaces due to a combination of environmental and genetic factors. There are specific personality traits common among people with anorexia nervosa such as perfectionism, low self-esteem and social isolation. Anorexia also tends to run in families, as a person with a family member with the illness is 10 times more likely to develop the disorder. Other environmental factors that may contribute to the development of the illness include stressful life events and transitions.
How can I help treat my child’s anorexia nervosa?
The goals of treatment for an individual with anorexia include obtaining a healthy weight, treating the underlying psychological issues related to the disordered eating, reducing/eliminating behaviors that lead to the disordered eating and preventing relapse. A psychotherapist and cognitive-behavioral therapist can help your child work through the psychological difficulties he/she experiences. A physician is crucial to the process of addressing the health concerns related to anorexia nervosa. A nutritionist can also help your child return to healthy eating patterns.
Our Approach at North Shore Pediatric Therapy
At North Shore Pediatric Therapy, we offer a variety of services that are beneficial to those with anorexia nervosa. Our registered dietitians will work with your child to create healthy eating patterns and to maintain a healthy weight. Our licensed professional counselor will assist your child in overcoming the psychological issues associated with the eating disorder.