Anorexia nervosa is one of the best known and most publicized eating disorders. However, it should be noted that this disorder does not consist of a set of symptoms that always appear together in the same way.
Therefore, if we want to specify more and describe in more detail the way in which this assignment is expressed, we need to talk about the types of anorexia nervosa.
But before we focus on this classification, let’s get to the most basic: the definition of this disorder.
What is anorexia?
Etymologically, the term “anorexia” means “lack of appetite”. This fact already gives us a clue as to the nature of anorexia nervosa; it is an eating disorder, one of the main symptoms is the lack of food and drink beyond water.
Thus, the word anorexia refers to lack of appetite, a symptom present in the typical clinical picture of various disorders and diseases, while anorexia nervosa it’s a specific eating disorder, not a symptom. More precisely, anorexia nervosa is a disorder characterized by an interest in losing weight and body volume pushed to an extreme pathological level, materialized by the constant rejection of food in order not to gain weight.
So, whatever type of anorexia nervosa we are talking about, this disorder causes people to get so thin or wear out. a diet so rare and so harmful that his health is in serious danger.
Symptoms that characterize the different types of anorexia nervous (regardless of what is present in each case) are as follows:
- Body mass index significantly lower than the average for the age and sex of the person.
- Bradycardia (drop in heart rate).
- Obsession with the number of calories of what is consumed.
- Feeling tired.
- Abnormally dry skin (xerosis).
- In addition, in very severe and advanced cases, it can cause:
- Amenorrhea (disappearance of periods).
Types of anorexia nervosa
Now that we have seen the basic characteristics of the disorder, let’s move on to the types of anorexia nervosa and their characteristics.
There are basically two types of anorexia: purgative anorexia and restrictive anorexia.
1. Purgative anorexia
Purgative-type anorexia nervosa is characterized by the presentation of purge steps, Which usually consist of vomiting and, in some cases, using diuretics or laxatives.
Before the purging phase, there is a binge phase which is felt as an uncontrollable urge which leads to eating quickly and chewing little.
The typical profile of patients with purgative anorexia is adolescent girls prone to impulsivity and constant self-assessment thoughts based on their physical appearance.
The difference between purgative anorexia and bulimia, which is a very similar eating disorder, is that initially body weight is lower than it indicates for a person with these characteristics and is more likely to fall into malnutrition.
2. Restrictive anorexia
In this type of anorexia, no bleeding occurs. In place, there is constant resistance to the act of eating. The latter is a possibility often considered disgusting because it is associated with the fattening process.
So this type of anorexia is more typical of methodical and perfectionist people, rigid with the rules and capable of extreme self-control, And do not exhibit the impulsive profile of patients with purgative anorexia. However, the gender and the typical age range are the same as in the other type of anorexia nervosa.
Both types of anorexia nervosa are believed to have a multicausal origin, they are not entirely dependent on genetics or the influence of the environment. The factors that most influence its appearance are:
1. Family factors
The presence of relatives suffering from mental or neurological disorders living with the person increases the chances of the person developing anorexia nervosa. This especially happens during your youth, when you are more dependent on the family and are more likely to imitate behaviors. Likewise, a family environment in which there is a strong pressure towards perfectionism also contributes to its emergence.
2. Cultural factors
These are factors related to the type of cultural influences to which the person is exposed. Media and Internet they can show role models characterized by extreme thinness, which is very evident in some social media accounts.
Additionally, it’s common for social media to use images of extremely young people as references, and there are even social media accounts devoted to using these photographs to ‘motivate’ others to follow them.
3. Individual factors
Heritability plays a role in the risk of developing certain types of anorexia, and so do other aspects that are not strictly genetic, such as the presence of other diagnosed disorders. The clinical picture most associated with anorexia is major depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.