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What are the psychological consequences of anorexia nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa is one of the most frequent eating behavior disorders (EDs) that exist, and is characterized by a pathological need to lose mass body in an extreme way, reaching situations in which the physical integrity of the person is violated or death can even occur due to malnutrition. The most obvious warning signs are an alarming decrease in the person's weight in a short time, an intense obsession with not gaining weight and avoiding food, and a distortion of self-image bodily.

This type of eating disorder is truly destructive for the sufferer and can go associated with a series of psychological consequences that contribute to severely deteriorate their mental health and physical. So that you know its characteristics better, here we will review the psychological consequences of anorexia nervosa.

  • Related article: "Keys to understand eating disorders"

What are the main psychological consequences of anorexia nervosa?

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

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1. depressive symptoms

One of the main sets of psychological symptoms presented by people suffering from anorexia nervosa are depressive symptoms: hopelessness, habitual sadness, and very low mood, in this case linked to the assessment of 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 towards depression.

Scientific research regarding anorexia nervosa has shown that it usually has a very frequent with this type of psychological alterations and that often each of them is fed back with the others.

It is clear that the radical change in eating habits and the drastic weight loss experienced by People with anorexia have a very negative impact on their psychology, since physical health conditions health to a great extent. mental.

  • You may be interested: "Types of depression: their symptoms, causes and characteristics"

2. Anxiety in social situations related to food

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

Social consequences of anorexia

The experience of feeling those kinds of expectations, coupled with the need to hide the extent to which they avoid food, makes them get defensive or directly avoid these situations, entering a dynamic of isolation Social.

  • Related article: "What is anxiety: how to recognize it and what to do"

3. Intense discomfort on seeing

It is very common for people with anorexia nervosa to feel very bad when seeing themselves in photographs or when looking in a mirror.. This is the result of the distortion of their perception of themselves. If we add to this that the majority of people with anorexia are young women, a group demographic in which there is high social pressure to take care of their appearance, this malaise is intensifies even more.

4. self harm

Self-injury is another of the frequent psychological consequences of anorexia nervosa, and it is a truly harmful behavior for people who practice this type of painful punishment with the aim of distracting from the hunger and anxiety generated by the desire to to eat.

This type of self-harm they are usually cuts that the person makes to himself in legs or arms, always in places that are inconspicuous so as not to raise any suspicion among friends, relatives or educators.

Currently there is a boom in the practice of these self-injurious behaviors mainly due to the proliferation of messages that, in social networks of all kinds, recommend getting this type of wound, content that reaches people in a very alarming way more and more young.

  • You may be interested: "The 10 types of self-harm and associated disorders"

5. Obsessive-compulsive behavior patterns to avoid eating

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

The tendency to perform intermittent fasting to lose weight, the obsession with one's own physique and with wanting to be thin or the obsession with not eating certain foods that are considered fattening, leads to many of these people to cling to chains of actions designed to “protect” themselves from the temptation to eat, or to keep disturbing intrusive thoughts linked to eating at bay. self image.

6. Tendency to drug use

The abuse of addictive substances in cases of anorexia nervosa is very frequent, mainly in young population and especially adolescents, a period in which they are more likely to develop either of the two disorders.

This phenomenon of comorbidity between an eating behavior disorder such as anorexia nervosa and an alcohol addiction disorder or substances of any other type is produced by a great variety of causes that do not always affect everyone in the same way, but in general It has to do with the need to escape from the present, of not thinking about the worries that beset the person, or even as a supposed "trick" to lose weight eating less (for example, falling into the false belief that psychostimulants will allow not to store fat).

The high prevalence of cases of anorexia nervosa and use of alcohol or illegal drugs can also be explained in part by the increasingly common normalization of alcohol consumption among young people, due to the tendency to carry out self-destructive behaviors by the person with anorexia and also to relieve the anxiety that the person feels in the moments of greatest hunger.

  • Related article: "The 14 most important types of addictions"

7. Suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts

The suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts are very common in the most advanced stages of anorexia nervosa, and constitute a real risk to the health and life of those who suffer from this eating disorder.

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

It is essential to seek professional help

Mental health professionals stress the need to go to therapy as soon as possible when detecting the symptoms of anorexia nervosa. In this type of patients, it is essential to provide the necessary support both from medicine and from psychotherapy, in an that both their physical affectations and the mental alterations that are the cause and/or consequence of this are addressed disorder.

If you are seeking treatment for eating disorders, please contact us. In Advance Psychologists We have more than two decades of experience caring for patients, and we work from both psychological therapy and psychiatry.

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