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Anorexia Q & A

Thanks for answering our question about talking with an expert. Check out the latest question and answer series with UCLA's Dr. Michael Strober.
UCLA Research Study on Anorexia Nervosa

If you and a family member have or ever had anorexia nervosa, you may be eligible for a research study on the genetics of eating disorders conducted by Dr. Michael Strober. You may receive $150 if you qualify. Phone (310) 825-9822 or e-mail kmoerk@mednet.ucla.edu.

Diagnosing Anorexia: Do You Have A Problem with Food?

The first step toward a diagnosis is to admit the existence of an eating disorder. Often, the patient needs to be compelled by a parent or others to see a doctor because the patient may deny and resist the problem. Some patients may even self-diagnose their condition as an allergy to carbohydrates, because after being on a restricted diet, eating carbohydrates can produce gastrointestinal problems, dizziness, weakness, and palpitations. This may lead such people to restrict carbohydrates even more severely.

For more information and a quiz on the disorder:

What are the warning signs of Anorexia?

• Deliberate self-starvation with weight loss
• Fear of gaining weight
• Refusal to eat
• Denial of hunger
• Constant exercising
• Greater amounts of hair on the body or the face
• Sensitivity to cold temperatures
• Absent or irregular periods
• Loss of scalp hair
• A self-perception of being fat when the person is really too thin
For more information: http://www.familydoctor.org/handouts/063.html

What is Anorexia?

Anorexia nervosa is an illness that usually occurs in teenage girls, but it can also occur in teenage boys, and adult women and men. People with anorexia are obsessed with being thin. They lose a lot of weight and are terrified of gaining weight. They believe they are fat even though they are very thin. Anorexia isn't just a problem with food or weight. It's an attempt to use food and weight to deal with emotional problems.
For more information: http://www.familydoctor.org/handouts/063.html

What are some other indicators of Anorexia?

Anorexia nervosa often includes depression, irritability, withdrawal, and peculiar behaviors such as compulsive rituals, strange eating habits, and division of foods into "good/safe" and "bad/dangerous" categories. Person may have low tolerance for change and new situations; may fear growing up and assuming adult responsibilities and an adult lifestyle. May be overly engaged with or dependent on parents or family. Dieting may represent avoidance of, or ineffective attempts to cope with, the demands of a new life stage such as adolescence.
For more information: Anorexia Nervosa and Related Disorders, Inc. www.anred.com

If You Have Anorexia?

Tell to someone you trust (i.e., parent, sibling, friend, teacher, clergy, counselor, etc.). You're going to need support, for the fear and shame can be overwhelming. The behavior is addictive, and the disease is deadly. You're risking your life if you hide behind silence. Early intervention is key in overcoming the disease.
Patients with severe anorexia need intensive treatment, which often includes hospitalization and a team approach. It is a very difficult disorder and the treatments used for bulimia are not as effective for this problem.
For more information:

If You Don't Seek Help?

You're playing Russian Roulette with your life. Here are the risks associated with eating disorders:

• Death from malnutrition.
• Dangerous heart rhythms, including slow rhythms known as bradycardia, may develop. Such abnormalities can show up even in teenagers with anorexia.
• Blood flow is reduced.
• Cardiac arrest.
• Liver failure.
• The heart muscles starve, losing size.
• Stress hormones are higher.
• Dental problems.
• Bloating.
• Constipation.
• Hair loss.
• Anemia.

The list goes on and on. For more information:

Worried About a Friend?
If you are worried about your friend’s eating behaviors or attitudes, it is
important to express your concerns in a loving and supportive way. It is
also necessary to discuss your worries early on, rather than waiting until
your friend has endured many of the damaging physical and emotional effects
of eating disorders.
For more information:

Where can I get more information about anorexia and other eating disorders?

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD)
P.O. Box 7
Highland Park, IL 60035
Telephone: 847-831-3438
Internet address: http://www.anad.org

National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)
603 Stewart Street, Suite 803
Seattle, WA 98101
Telephone: 800-931-2237
Internet address: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders, Inc. (ANRED)
(A clearinghouse for information about eating disorders)
Internet address: http://www.anred.com

Laureate Psychiatric Clinic and Hospital
Internet Address: http://www.laureate.com

Eating Disorders Awareness and Prevention, 603 Stewart Street, Suite 803, Seattle, WA 98101.
Call (206-382-3587) or (800-931-2237) or (http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/)

Harvard Eating Disorders Centers (http://www.hedc.org)

American Dietetic Association, 216 W. Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60606. Call (800-877-1600) or (312-899-0040) or (http://www.eatright.org/)
The organization offers a hot-line that allows people to speak to a licensed dietitian and also provides names of licensed dietitians for specific locations. Its web site is excellent and highly recommended.

National Women's Health Network. 514 10th St. NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20004. Call (202-347-1140) or (http://www.nwhn.org/)
Membership fee is $25 per year and provides a bimonthly newsletter and access to information. Reports cost $8.00 for members and $10.00 for nonmembers.

International Eating Disorder Referral Organization. Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center, 2923 Sandy Pointe Suite, 6 Del Mar, CA 92014-2052. Call (858-481-1515) or (http://www.edreferral.com)

Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy, 305 Seventh Ave., 16th Fl., New York, NY 10001. Call (800-685-2228) or (212-647-1890) or (http://www.aabt.org/)
Offers information packets that include a list of behavior therapists, fact sheets on various psychological problems, and methods for choosing a therapist.

American Institute for Cognitive Therapy. Call (212-308-2440) or (http://www.cognitivetherapynyc.com/)

The American Psychiatric Association. Call (888-357-7924) or (http://www.psych.org/)

The American Psychological Association. Call (202-783-2077) or (http://www.psychologicalscience.org/)

The National Association of Social Workers. Call (202-408-8600) or (http://www.naswdc.org/)

The American Psychiatric Nurses Association. Call (703-243-2443) or (http://www.apna.org/)

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (http://www.aacap.org/)


Other useful eating disorders web sites:

This is a personal site that has excellent information and support on eating disorders. (http://www.something-fishy.org/)

Site for family members and patients (http://closetoyou.org/eatingdisorders/)

Interesting site assists in finding the right therapist

An online catalog that offers kitchen products, bathroom helpers and daily living products for people of all ages and abilities or disabilities.(http://www.dynamic-living.com)

GreySheeters Anonymous is a twelve step fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from compulsive overeating. (http://www.greysheet.org/)

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