Online Anorexia Nervosa Treatment: Find Anorexia Recovery Today

Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder that involves consuming very small amounts of food and sometimes bingeing and/or purging.

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that involves consuming very small amounts of food and sometimes bingeing and/or purging. It can quickly become life threatening, causing you at starvation, dehydration, and being dangerously malnourished, not to mention the horrible mental condition you may find yourself in, trapped betewen your need to eat, and the intense fear you may feel about eating. 

When you have the disorder, what makes anorexia particularly confusing is that practicing extreme calorie restriction feels like the right thing to do in your pursuit of health. To compound the confusion, your drive for thinness, seriously restricting calorie intake, and over exercising become the source of your sense of purpose and self-worth.

Because the symptoms actually give you comfort, you do not necessarily have a desire to get rid of them. In fact, you are likely to experience letting go of the disordered behavior—which does not feel disordered to you—as a huge loss.

What is Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa, often referred to as simply “anorexia”, is a life-threatening eating disorder. People who suffer from anorexia consume very little amounts of food, which starves the body of essential nutrients. If untreated, those dealing with anorexia nervosa can become dangerously malnourished and thin while still seeing themselves as overweight. In many cases, people with anorexia nervosa must be hospitalized.

Who is Affected by Anorexia Nervosa?

According to WebMD.com, nine out of every ten people with anorexia are female. In total, about one percent of all U.S. females between the ages of ten and twenty-five are anorexic. 

Actors, models, dancers, and athletes whose appearance and weight are important (such as wrestlers, boxers, figure skaters, gymnasts) are at a higher risk of developing anorexia. 

People with anorexia tend to be perfectionists and perform at a very high level in school, work, sports, and other activities they participate in. 

Characteristics of Persons with Anorexia Nervosa

  • Persistent restriction of energy intake leading to significantly low body weight (in context of what is minimally expected for age, sex, developmental trajectory, and physical health).
  • Either an intense fear of gaining weight or of becoming fat, or persistent behavior that interferes with weight gain (even though significantly low weight).
  • Disturbance in the way one’s body weight or shape is experienced, undue influence of body shape and weight on self-evaluation, or persistent lack of recognition of the seriousness of the current low body weight.

Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa You May Be Experiencing

Anorexia nervosa is a very serious illness that causes starvation, but starvation isn’t the only sign of anorexia. Below are some symptoms you may be experiencing if they have anorexia nervosa: 

  • You are underweight from not eating enough
  • You are dehydrated
  • Your  arms and/or legs are swollen
  • If you’re female, you are no longer getting their period 
  • Your hair is falling out
  • You feel as if their heart is being strangely
  • You are dizzy or are fainting
  • You are obsessed with losing weight
  • Your self-esteem is directly tied to how their body appears

It’s important that you speak with a doctor right away if they experience any combination of the above symptoms.

Side Effects of Anorexia

Anorexia nervosa can cause serious side effects to an afflicted person’s body. Here are few of the harmful effects of anorexia:

Effects of Anorexia on the Heart

Not getting proper nutrition can cause a number of dangerous effects on a person’s heart including but not limited to:

  • Low blood pressure, or hypotension, and orthostatic hypotension
  • Higher risk of ventricular arrhythmia
  • Higher risk of sudden cardiac death
  • Mitral valve prolapse from loss of heart muscle mass

Effects of Anorexia on the Brain

Not getting proper nutrition can cause a number of dangerous effects on a person’s brain including but not limited to:

  • Decreased brain activity
  • Impaired functions related to decision making, ability to focus, issues with memory, appetite regulation, emotional control, issues with mood and reward pathways

Effects of Anorexia on the Digestive Tract

Not getting proper nutrition can cause a number of dangerous effects on a person’s digestive tract including but not limited to:

  • Discomfort and/or pain in the abdomen
  • Constipation
  • Feelings of being full
  • Bloating
  • Fatty liver disease, or steatosis

Effects of Anorexia on a Person’s Body from Purging

Not getting proper nutrition can cause a number of dangerous effects on a person’s body from purging including but not limited to:

  • Dangerous stomach acid can wear down a person’s teeth enamel
  • A loss of hydration and electrolyte imbalance can lead to damaged skeletal muscle
  • Damaged kidneys

Effects of Anorexia on a Person’s Hormones

Not getting proper nutrition can cause a number of dangerous effects on a person’s hormones including but not limited to:

  • Menstrual periods that are missed, or amenorrhea
  • A reduction in levels of female hormones
  • Lowered levels of testosterone
  • Slowed growth
  • Puberty that is delayed
  • A thyroid that is underactive, or hypothyroidism
  • Euthyroid sick syndrome
  • Weak bones in older individuals, or osteopenia
  • Bone loss in older individuals, or osteoporosis
  • Stress fractures in older individuals

How is Anorexia Nervosa Diagnosed?

If symptoms are present, a doctor can begin an evaluation by performing a physical examination and a complete medical history. In addition, questions about the quantity and variety of foods being consumed should be asked, as well as your thoughts on food. A medical professional can then measure your weight and height and compare them with age-based and weight-based growth charts.

Other questions like the frequency of binges and purges should be asked. 

Below are the diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa according to the Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition:

  • Body weight less than 85% of normal for height and age
  • Significant fear of gaining weight or growing fat, despite being underweight
  • Misperception of own weight or body shape and undue preoccupation with weight
  • Absence of at least three consecutive periods in females who previously menstruated

What are the Different Types of Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa falls into two types:

Restricting Type

People with the restricting type of anorexia nervosa place extreme restrictions on the quantity and the type of food that they choose to consume. Some practical ways that a person places extreme restriction on their eating habits can include: 

  • Skipping meals
  • Restricting or eliminating certain foods like carbohydrates
  • Following harsh or obsessive rules like dating only a certain color of food

Binge Eating / Purging Type

People with the binge eating type and/or purging type also follow restrictive rules on their eating, but also add in binge eating and/or purging. Binge eating happens when someone loses control and eats a large amount of food. After a large amount of food is consumed, a person then feels the need to react by purging the food by the means of vomiting, taking excessive laxatives, or misusing enemas and diuretics. 

Anorexia Nervosa Levels of Care

Outside of the primary care setting, there are a few levels of care available to individuals with eating disorders. Let’s review binge eating disorder treatment options:

Outpatient

  • Often where the treatment process begins
  • Patient lives at home and attends hourly sessions at their providers’ offices
  • Appropriate for patients who are medically stable, motivated, self-sufficient, and have adequate support and structure at home

Intensive Outpatient

  • Typically occurs in a specialized setting (e.g., a clinic or hospital)
  • Patients live at home and attend sessions three to five times a week that last approximately three hours each
  • Program may include numerous types of therapy, including, but not limited to, individual, group, and counseling
  • Appropriate for patients who are medically stable, self-sufficient, and have adequate support and structure at home, but may need some degree of external structure beyond self-control

Partial Hospitalization (Full-Day Outpatient Care)

  • Occurs in a specialized setting and can be connected to a hospital program or a free-standing facility
  • Patient requires a high level of supervision and monitoring
  • Patient must be able to demonstrate some ability to retain the gains made in treatment without 24-hour monitoring
  • Patient must not be a suicide risk or medically compromised to the point of requiring hospitalization
  • Patient must have sufficient resources and motivation to attend program
  • Patient’s home or living environment must be one that can be supportive of the recovery process
  • Wide variety in quality of programming and hours of available treatment across programs, making it critical that patient’s needs and circumstances are appropriate for this level of care
  • Care is typically 5– 12 hours per day, 4– 7 days per week.

Residential Treatment Center

  • Highly specialized programs that can be operated independent of hospital setting, but sometimes connected to a hospital setting
  • Indicated when patient is not able to retain gains without 24-hour monitoring
  • May be indicated when severity of symptoms necessitates constant monitoring in order to initiate and sustain symptom-free behavior and normalized eating
  • May be indicated for patients whose activities of daily living are compromised by the disorder May be indicated for the development of a normalized, healthy lifestyle conducive to long-term health and well being
  • May include specialized approaches that help the patient develop routines and activities of daily living that create patterns of behavior that are conducive to recovery
  • Useful in situations with a high degree of psychiatric comorbidity that require intensified focus during treatment
  • Sometimes indicated on the basis of a lack of supportive and safe environment where the patient can be expected be able to make meaningful, retainable progress
  • May be appropriate when patient is overwhelmed with symptoms and unable to refrain from reverting to symptoms or other behaviors that compromise their well being when alone
  • Appropriate for patients with either lower or higher levels of motivation, but generally patients must enter treatment voluntarily

Inpatient Hospitalization

  • Generally used for a period of short-term stabilization proceeding initiation of treatment at lower levels of care
  • Indicated in situation where patient is a suicide risk or gravely disabled by symptoms and unable to participate in residential or lower levels of care due to presenting symptoms, which may include depression, poor motivation, poor insight, and/ or other factors that limit ability to meaningfully participate in lower levels of care
  • Appropriate in situations where hospital-based medical care is indicated (i.e., IV lines or other more invasive medical treatments are needed)

A person’s weight typically determines how aggressive treatment should be. According to Harvard Health:

A patient's weight usually determines how aggressive treatment should be. Generally speaking, when an adult patient loses 15% or more of her ideal body weight, she will require inpatient treatment or a highly structured outpatient program. Because children and adolescents are at risk for suffering irreversible developmental damage if they are malnourished, inpatient care may be necessary even before they reach the 15% weight-loss threshold.

In its treatment guidelines, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) recommends also taking other factors into account when making a decision. Items to consider include how quickly a patient has lost weight and whether she has developed a serious medical complication.”

Treating Anorexia Nervosa

Maudsley Method

For children and adolescents who have been suffering for less than three years (not yet chronic), the most effective therapy is the Maudsley Method. This therapy was created by the Maudsley Hospital in London and follows a three-phase treatment plan:

  1. In phase one, clinicians work with family to teach them strategies to coach and encourage patients to eat more.
  2. In phase two, patients begin to gain weight by eating more normally. In this phase, focus is shifted to identifying and changing family dynamics that lead to further recovery
  3. In phase three, patients return to a normal weight, and clinicians continue to work with family members to help the patient become more independent

Nutritional Therapy

When entering an anorexia nervosa treatment program, a person is often severely malnourished. Starvation often affects a person’s thinking, causing them to be negative, manipulative, and obsessive. 

Doctors often provide support in nutritional therapy, combining positive reinforcement and tying it to privileges gained at target weight gains. One of the major challenges in nutritional therapy is performing this therapy in a caring way, rather than in a punitive manner. 

Medication

While medications are often prescribed for persons dealing with anorexia nervosa, there’s little evidence that support their effectiveness in promoting weight gain or at alleviating distress in the early stages of treatment.

Psychotherapy

After a patient gains enough weight to benefit from psychotherapy, helping them recognize distorted thinking about food is a top priority. In addition, psychotherapy can help patients find better ways to deal with emotional stress caused by anorexia nervosa and can help patients avoid relapse.

Finding Anorexia Recovery

If you think you or a loved one needs anorexia nervosa treatment, you’ve come to the right place. The first step to anorexia recovery acknowledging you need help and then seeking help. 

The development of anorexia stems from a combination of biological, psychological and social variables. Healing from anorexia requires an approach as multi-layered as the causes of the condition itself. It starts with forming a relationship with another safe person or safe persons and ultimately re-connecting with yourself.

Our team is here to provide you with that safety and connection. We will emphasize mindfulness, gentleness, and awareness, as we work together to uncover the underlying function anorexia nervosa serves in your life.

We will explore how anorexia helps you buffer emotions, feel safer, and even gives you a sense of direction and being cared for. Together, we will discover how you can experience the connection and love you want through means that are self-preserving and satisfying in terms of hunger, fullness, and your whole relationship with food.

You will come to see that you have an internal compass you can rely on regarding your food and emotional needs. As you discover you have all the answers you need within you, you will be able to release the compulsion to follow rigid rules, external regulation, or outside mandates. And you will find yourself moving into a much greater sense of freedom and meaning in your life.

Get Online Anorexia Nervosa Treatment

My name is Wendy Oliver-Pyatt, I am a consultant psychiatrist in Miami, Florida. I believe that compassion, when directed towards self and others, can lead to profound health and healing. If you need online anorexia nervosa treatment, I can help! I have created a unique treatment model in which you will have the  opportunity to work with providers who I specifically refer to based on your current experience, diagnosis and needs.  I build this team around you and will coordinate your care with the goal to find meaning in your experience, and free you of your symptoms so that you can feel more at peace, and have greater capacity to adapt to life circumstances, to challenge yourself, to be creative, to develop intimacy and to have a fulfilling lifestyle With more than 20 years of clinical experience and a vast network of clinical partners, I’ve developed a unique treatment approach that delves into the underlying issues that place a person at risk for mental health conditions.  Together we will create a protocol and treatment plan that is well coordinated, and that can guide you on your healing process, toward health and inner peace. Contact me today!