What are the psychological consequences of anorexia nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa is one of the most common eating disorders (ADD) that exist and is characterized by a pathological need to lose body mass in an extreme way, leading to situations in which the physical integrity of the person is raped or even death from malnutrition can occur. The most obvious warning signs are an alarming decrease in a person’s weight in a short time, an intense obsession with not gaining weight and avoiding eating, and a distorted body image.

This type of eating disorder is truly destructive for the sufferer and can be associated with a number of psychological consequences that contribute to seriously impairing their mental and physical health. To know more about its features, here is a review of the psychological consequences of anorexia nervosa.

What are the main psychological consequences of anorexia nervosa?

Here we will focus on the most important psychological effects of anorexia nervosa; Of course, for a person to have anorexia, it is not necessary to have all of these characteristics.

1. Depressive symptoms

One of the main sets of psychological symptoms in people with anorexia nervosa are depressive symptoms: despair, habitual sadness and very bad mood, in this case related to evaluation and to one’s own identity and body image. In addition, the physical problems triggered by anorexia make the person feel bad and see their quality of life very limited, which also reinforces this tendency to depression.

Scientific research on anorexia nervosa has shown that it is very common with these types of psychological disorders and that each of them often affects the others.

It is clear that the drastic change in eating habits and the drastic weight loss experienced by people suffering from anorexia have a very negative impact on their psychology, with physical health largely affecting mental health.

2. Anxiety about social situations related to food

People with anorexia nervosa often feel very anxious contexts in which they are expected to eat; for example, at breakfast with the family or at a company dinner.

The experience of feeling this kind of expectation, coupled with the need to hide how much they avoid food, causes them to become defensive or directly avoid these situations, entering into a dynamic of social isolation.

3. Intense discomfort when seen

It is very common for people with anorexia nervosa to feel terrible when they look at pictures or look at themselves in a mirror.. It is the result of distorting the perception of themselves that they have. Add to this the fact that most people with anorexia are young women, a demographic group in which there is strong social pressure to take care of their appearance, this discomfort is further accentuated.

4. Self-harm

Self-harm is another common psychological consequence of anorexia nervosa, and it’s a really harmful behavior for people who practice this kind of painful punishment in order to distract themselves from the hunger and anxiety that makes them want to eat.

This type of self-harm These are usually self-made cuts on the legs or armsalways in inconspicuous places so as not to arouse the suspicion of friends, family or educators.

We are currently witnessing a boom in the practice of these self-harming behaviors mainly due to the proliferation of messages that, on all kinds of social networks, recommend this type of injury, content that reaches the youngest in a very alarming way.

5. Obsessive compulsive behaviors to avoid eating

The onset of obsessive-compulsive disorder is also common in people who have developed anorexia nervosa, since in most cases this eating disorder is accompanied by a variety of obsessions and stereotyped rituals, mainly related to food. .

The tendency to fast intermittently to lose weightthe obsession with one’s own physique and the desire to be thin, or the obsession with not eating certain foods considered fatty, lead many of these people to cling to chains of action intended to “protect” themselves the temptation to eat, or keeping in mind intrusive thoughts related to self-image.

6. Trend in drug use

The misuse of addictive substances in cases of anorexia nervosa is very common mainly among young people and especially adolescents, during which time they are more likely to develop one or another of these disorders.

This phenomenon of comorbidity between an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa and an addiction disorder to alcohol or other substances is caused by various causes that do not always affect everyone in the same way. , but in general it has to do with the need to escape the presentso as not to think about the worries that afflict the person, even as a so-called “trick” to lose weight by eating less (for example, falling into the false belief that psychostimulants will not store fat).

The high prevalence of cases of anorexia nervosa and consumption of alcohol or illicit drugs is also partly explained by the increasingly common normalization of alcohol consumption among young peopleby the tendency to adopt self-destructive behaviors by the person suffering from anorexia and also to relieve the anxiety that the person feels in times of greater hunger.

7. Suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts

Suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts they are very common in the more advanced stages of anorexia nervosaand represent a real risk to the health and life of people suffering from this eating disorder.

Recurrent suicidal thoughts occur due to psychological discomfort that can drag the person down for a considerable time, who often has very low self-esteem and therefore assumes that they do not deserve to live.

It is essential to call in a professional

Mental health professionals emphasize the need to go to therapy as soon as possible to detect the symptoms of anorexia nervosa. In this type of patient, it is essential to provide the necessary support from both medicine and psychotherapy, and to treat both their physical deficiencies and the mental disorders that are the cause and / or the consequence of this trouble.

If you are seeking treatment for an eating disorder, please contact us. In Advanced Psychologists We have over two decades of experience caring for patients and work in both psychological therapy and psychiatry.

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