‘Slim is beautiful” is something that many people, especially adolescent girls, believe in. But this, when taken to extreme, can result in an abnormal condition called ‘Anorexia Nervosa.”
It is a condition rooted in psychological domain which leads to self-imposed starvation causing weight loss and malnutrition, often becoming life-threatening.
The problem is prevalent in 1-2% of high-school girls, more common in those with higher socio-economic background. The affected person is generally of a perfectionist kind, who finds solace in losing weight and gets anxious on weight gain. Symptoms begin in mid-teens, often triggered by a dieting spell. Other features that form the hallmark of the condition are:
ï® Over exercising and forced vomiting
ï® Unnecessary use of laxatives and appetite suppressants
ï® Periods of depression
ï® Abnormal pattern of eating — alternating bouts of starvation and gluttony
ï® Other psychological problems like withdrawal and obsessive behavior
What needs to be done:
ï® Since the affected person would have lost more than 70% of weight by the time the problem is recognised along with multiple deficiencies, hospitalised treatment is a must.
ï® Once the physical health is restored, psychotherapy and counselling are needed to prevent relapse.
The best bet against the scourge is for all in the vulnerable group to be aware of the condition.