Anorexia nervosa is a syndrome in which the individual maintains a low weight as a result of a pre-occupation with body weight, construed either as a fear of fatness or pursuit of thinness. In anorexia nervosa, weight is maintained at least 15 per cent below that expected, or in adults body mass index (BMI) – calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in metres squared – is below 17.5 kg/m2. In younger people, the diagnosis may be made in those who fail to gain weight during the expected growth spurt of puberty, as they can become underweight without weight loss.
Anorexia may be triggered by stressful life events, or simply a pressure to be thin and physically attractive. What can start as a diet regime to lose weight, can gradually become much more sinister and harmful.
Common thoughts and physical symptoms are:
Negative self beliefs: Judge self by what I eat and look like, and my ability to control what I eat and look like; Strict rules about controlling food, shape and weight; Focus of attention is taken up with food and eating; What I should or shouldn’t eat; Self-critical thoughts when don’t keep to rules: I failed, I’m useless and weak, I’m worthless; I need to be thin to be in control; Others are trying to make me fat; I’ll fall apart if I don’t control myself; If I’m not perfect, then I’m a complete failure.
Extreme weight loss; Nausea & bloating after eating; Feeling cold; Dry and flaky skin; Difficulty concentrating; Sleeping problems; Brittle nails and hair; Dehydration Tired, weak, run-down; Long term: kidney damage, osteoporosis, lack of menstrual periods, cardiac failure.
Anorexia is often accompanied by Depression, Anxiety, Guilt, and Frustration, and these are the key to understanding anorexia and how hypnosis can be highly effective in treating it because anorexia is the consequence of a profound state of mind.
Our subconsicous is always acting to protect us, thus with anorexia, the subconsicous has come to believe that being extremely thin is good for the anorexic.
But no amount of rational discussion will affect the subconscious; it must be addressed at its own level.
This where hypnotherapy becomes the ideal tool. With hypnosis, a skilled practitioner can work directly at the subconscious level to help it find other, healthier ways of protecting the anorexic.
Once these are firmly in place and the subconscious has accepted a new understanding of reality, then the anorexia usually recedes and disappears altogether.