Counselling for Anorexia Nervosa in Reading, Berkshire
What is Anorexia Nervosa?
Anorexia nervosa means loss of appetite or restricting food and drink for nervous reasons, often to dangerous levels. In reality, however, the real meaning of Anorexia is a lost ability to satisfy physiological hunger, an inability to cope with emotions, and an intense fear of getting fat. Like all other eating disorders – including Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder – it is essentially an anxiety disorder that involves an attempt to control food and eating as a way of coping with emotions and life, and is characterised by an obsessive preoccupation with weight and body shape.
Do you have anorexia? Do you…
- Feel fat even when you are really underweight?
- Get irritable and moody?
- Set yourself high standards and have a perfectionist attitude?
- Shut yourself off from the world?
- Exercise excessively?
- Have rituals or obsessive behaviours – like cutting your food into little pieces etc.?
- Wear baggy clothes to hide your body and keep secretive?
- Lie about your eating?
- Try to please everyone?
- Think things are right or wrong, that there’s no in between?
- Have difficulty concentrating?
- Cook or prepare food for everyone else but do not eat it yourself?
If you’ve answered yes to any of the above then you may be suffering from anorexia and it’s important that you get a proper medical diagnosis from your doctor. You can also begin your recovery by finding out how to survive an eating disorder and learn new coping and relaxation skills so that you can be free from a problem you used to have by taking back control of your feelings, change your relationship with food, releasing your anxieties, and reclaiming your self-worth.
If you have an intense fear of gaining weight (whether perceived or actual), are obsessive about your eating rituals, and have unusual and secretive eating habits (such as skipping meals, avoiding certain foods, eating very small portions of food, restricting the variety of foods) then it may be that you’re suffering from a feeling of worthlessness or loss of control; or it may be that you’re suffering from depression, or an inability to cope with your emotions.
This is not a quick fix solution, but it is extremely effective if you are willing to put the necessary steps in place and believe that you can get better. Therapy requires your full cooperation and a genuine motivation and desire to be set free of the eating disorder; I can only help you if you genuinely want to be helped and are seeking therapy out of your own free will.
The Effects of Anorexia on Body & Mind
The anorexic sufferer values control of body weight and shape very highly. The focus on controlling and restricting their intake of food, or obsession with exercise as a way of burning off calories consumed (perceived as excess), is more about attempting to cope with life rather than a conscious decision to starve themselves, sometimes with fatal consequences.
In time, however, this control over food inevitably causes chemical changes in the body which in turn affect the brain and distort thinking to the point that it is almost impossible to make rational decisions about food and nourishment. Personality changes and mood swings become common psychological signs of anorexia, as well as distorted perceptions of body shape and weight. Ironically, the anorexic sufferer’s attempt to exercise control over food as a way of controlling their life, gets overpowered by the disorder itself which ultimately takes control of the sufferer’s normal physiological and mental functions, leaving them exhausted, malnourished, and emaciated from the effects of voluntary starvation. An “inner perfectionist voice” challenges every thought about eating and exercise, which then leads to rigid or obsessed behaviours particularly attached to food and eating.
Symptoms and side effects of Anorexia Nervosa
- Extreme and rapid weight loss resulting from malnutrition
- Poor inadequate weight gain in relation to growth (in children & teenagers)
- Irritability and depression
- Changes in personality and mood swings
- Extreme tiredness, exhaustion and weakness e.g. dizzy spells and feeling faint
- Feelings of shame, guilt and worthlessness
- Poor body image or self-image
- Rigid and obsessional behaviour attached to eating
- Wearing big baggy clothes
- Restlessness and hyperactivity
- Absence of menstruation, lack of testosterone in men, and low sex drive
- Loss of bone mass and eventually osteoporosis e.g. brittle bones
- Hair loss on the head or excessive fine bodily hair growth
- Dry, rough, or discoloured skin
- Bloating and constipation
- Puffy face and ankles
- More sensitive to bruising
- Increased risk of heart disease, low heart rate
- Poor blood circulation and feeling cold
- Increased risk of organ failure
- Vomiting and/or laxative abuse (see also Bulimia)
- Death if left untreated (in severe cases)
The long term effects of anorexia nervosa on mind and body can be severe and very alarming if left untreated. Fortunately, many of these side effects can be reduced or improved provided the sufferer seeks medical supervision and professional/therapeutic help, to ensure that the body receives proper and regular nourishment.
It’s important to note that not everyone will have all of the above listed symptoms in order to have a serious eating disorder; each individual is different, and therefore will be experiencing a different set or a mixture of these symptoms.
Who can be helped?
The main problem is that the individual suffering from anorexia does not actually see, feel or admit that they have a problem. This denial of the existence of a problem together with a distorted view of body shape and weight makes it difficult for the sufferer from anorexia to accept any treatment; the idea of seeking professional help to free themselves from their symptoms or “illness” is completely undesirable, because in their mind that implies eating more food and subsequently putting on more weight and becoming fatter than ever before – all those things they’ve been desperately trying to avoid.
If you are suffering from anorexia then it’s highly likely that you think food is your primary issue, and that is true to some degree. However, it’s equally important to point out that eating disorders are actually all about feelings and emotions, and that’s where counselling can help.
I am able to offer treatment for anorexia for individuals over the age of 18, and only to those who seek therapy out of their own free will and who genuinely want to be helped. Therapy requires full co-operation and a genuine motivation and desire to be set free of the eating disorder.
Find out more by following the links below:
- What is an Eating Disorder?
- Binge Eating Disorder
- Bulimia Nervosa
- Body Image
- Weight Management
What’s the Next Step?
To book your FREE consultation or to find out
how Counselling in Reading Berkshire can help you
Please Call 07846 989439
or send me an email and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
I look forward to hearing from you.
If you have a specific medical problem or complaint, it is recommended that you seek help from your GP or medical practitioner before you seek Counselling. This will allow you to have the necessary checks to determine whether your condition has a physiological or medical cause. More importantly, if such a condition is identified, then the appropriate medical intervention can be applied.
Your health may be compromised if you use any extreme weight control behaviours (even if occasionally) as there are many physical complications that can arise from extreme food restriction, fasting or losing weight too quickly, from self-induced vomiting, abusing laxatives/diuretics,
as well as from extreme exercise.
If you think you might be suffering from an eating disorder it’s important to talk to you GP for a full medical check-up.