OT: Lack of Appetite Vs. Anorexia

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by LittleBluestem, Dec 3, 2005.

  1. LittleBluestem

    LittleBluestem New Member

    In some recent discussions of lack of appetite and difficulty in eating, the subject of anorexia came up. Although the word anorexia comes from the Greek word meaning “loss of appetite”, it is very much more.

    For one thing, anorexics are often delusional - seeing themselves as fat when they are nothing but skin and bones. It is unlikely that anyone who realizes that they are not eating as much/well as they should has anorexia (unless they happen to be a recovering anorexic). According to the cover article in this week’s Newsweek, only 50% of anorexics recover and 10% of them die.

    If anyone on this board seriously thinks that you might have anorexia, I hope you will seek qualified health care immediately. You need to get the best of this disease before it gets the best of you.

    LISALOO New Member

    I had anorexia years ago. I was hungry but thought I was fat, so I didn't eat. Went way below my normal weight. Still thought I was fat.

    Not hungry, that's a part of this disease. Sometimes I force myself to eat, to give me energy to fight this disease.
  3. tcluna

    tcluna New Member

    A study reently showed that anorexics have alterted dopamime metabolism. Dopamine is involved with endorphins (your bodies own pain and stress killers).

    I think anorexia results from a stress situation, and to deal with it, by calorie restriction, you inrease both GABA and endorphins, naturally this occurs about the 3rd or 4th say of a fast, if you ever have fasted.

    It may be a ompensation for low endorphins, low gaba or low stress tolerance. dopamine is involved in RLS, Cfs, FM and its highly tied to endorphins.
  4. Kat_in_Texas

    Kat_in_Texas New Member

    My mother was dx'ed as having anorexia when she was in her early 60's. She had wasted away to the point that all of her major organs had begun to shut down, and it was only when she was rushed to the E.R. unconscious and put in ICU that we realized her low body weight (approx 80 pounds, 5'6") was due to anorexia. When someone is that old, it just never occurred to anyone that it might be anorexia!

    My mom was always fit and trim when I was growing up, even after having four kids. She was always beautiful and kept herself looking great. I never heard her talk about body fat or be concerned with calories. She was probably a size 8 my entire life, until a year or two before the episode above. (Darn it, wouldn't you know that I would take after my Dad's side of the family ... all big butts and bellys! lol!)

    The ICU staff told us that they had never seen someone so badly malnourished as my mother outside of the U.S. (a couple of doctors said they saw similar cases while doing volunteer work in third world countries). You can only imagine how horrified and EXTREMELY GUILTY we all felt not to have realized what was happening. We all knew she wasn't eating properly but she was very sly and made us believe it wasn't that bad. None of us knew why she was getting so thin. We knew she was wasting away and all of us nagged at her all the time ... which evidently only made the cycle worse.

    Fortunately my mother survived (shocking her doctors. at one point they told us she would pass before the day was over). She spent a month in the hospital and several more months in rehab after that because she had no muscle tone whatsoever. She pretty much had to relearn how to walk even! She also received much-needed counseling. During the counseling the entire family found out that my mom's anorexia was not about "weight" or body image at all. In her case it was about control. My dad "controlled" her for 54 years, in most areas of her life, and for some reason her food intake became a major battle between the two of them for a period of time. He would bark at her to eat and tell her she was too thin ... and she was so stubborn that she was not able to let him "win." I guess she felt it was the one area she could control. There were other issues causing it as well, it was not just about him trying to get her to eat ... it was such a deep psychological thing with her that extended to her own parents and upbringing, and to us, her kids ... but still all about control. Not about "fat" at all. I had never heard of anything like that at all. We were all flabbergasted.

    Mom is now 73 and due to osteoporosis is only 5'4". She still weighs less than 100 pounds, but she's working on her goal of getting to 100. Eating is a very tough emotional hurdle for her, for reasons we may never fully know or understand.

    Funny thing is, after my dad passed away (he died 11 weeks ago today) my brothers and I started noticing that Mom's appetite and eating habits were improving. I'm thrilled about that. She is still so sickly and frail, and she literally looks like someone from those Holocaust pictures. (Buying clothes for her is hell, as you can imagine! The only size 0's are "low rise" and made for teenagers, lol!) I'm sure Mom's increase in appetite is directly related (psychologically-speaking) to my dad's absence in some ways. Guess she's finally the one in control now???? I don't know.

    Anyway, anorexia is a very complex and horrible illness. But who would ever think that a little old retired lady would be diagnosed with it?

    [This Message was Edited on 12/04/2005]
  5. lbok

    lbok New Member

    Anorexia I think is a medical term that just means loss of appetite and can apply to people with various conditions. Anorexia Nervosa is the eating disorder. I know there are a number of medical conditions where anorexia is considered a symptom - just meaning prolonged loss of appetite, but not implying that the patient has developed an eating disorder related to their body image.

  6. dakotasweett

    dakotasweett New Member

    Anorexia is used as a medical term meaning only "lack of appetite". I had to get used to this when I started nursing school since I am used to the association of the word with an eating disorder (my background is in social work). Anorexia Nervosa is the eating disorder. I agree, LittleBlueStem, anyone who might have any eating disorder should seek professional help.

    Thanks for discussing this important issue!

  7. windymountain

    windymountain New Member

    I have never had any kind of problem eating food until this fibro business came along and messed me up. I have noticed the past few weeks that I have no desire to eat much of the time. Even the foods I used to love, I don't find satisfying. I still experience hunger, don't get me wrong...just nothing looks "good." I often feel a bit of nausea, which some candied ginger will fix. Gee, even the chocolate I used to crave is no longer fun. I am not on any prescription meds for the fibro yet, so I can't blame this on them.
  8. LittleBluestem

    LittleBluestem New Member

    Thank-you all for your additional input and insight.

    lbok & dakotasweett- very important point. The eating disorder Anorexia Nervosa is the subject here. A person should not become overly concerned because they see ‘anorexia’ in a symptom list for someone. Many of us have anorexia. If hope no one has Anorexia Nervosa. My sympathies to lisaloo and anyone else who ever has had and is now having to deal with one (or more) of our diseases.

    Since anorexia is often used when people mean Anorexia Nervosa, I may have misinterpreted some past posts where people were using anorexia to mean anorexia. Gee, imagine a person with brain fog doing that!

    fight4acure has a good point in that “The motive of a person with simply loss of appetite is none.” They have no motive to eat. They have not motive not to eat.

    Our motives not to eat come from our brain fog, fatigue, pain, and digestive disorders. I do not have FM or any digestive disorders, so I only have to deal with brain fog and fatigue. Since developing CFS, I have found the unrelenting cycle of shopping, meal preparation, eating and clean-up to be the most challenging thing to deal with. The brain fog makes it more difficult to decide what and how much to buy and what to fix for each meal. The fatigue makes it more difficult to do the shopping, meal preparation and clean-up. Actually, I have no problem with the eating once I, or someone else, get the food prepared. You should have seen me pig-out at the Thanksgiving buffet! My sympathies to those of you for whom eating is painful.

    Our motivation to ensure that we eat regular and nutritious meals has to be our knowledge that if we don’t, our health will only get worse. Since I have low blood sugar, my eating schedule is less flexible than some. You can put off the laundry or washing your hair if you are especially exhausted, but you cannot put off today’s meals until tomorrow. While you can put off shopping and kitchen clean-up to a limited extent, it makes the preparation of nutritious meals more difficult, so I try to avoid it. (And I am not admitting how long it has been since my kitchen was entirely free of dirty dishes.)

    tcluna - The Newsweek article also mentioned excess serotonin as a possible cause and that starvation reduced serotonin, so Anorexia Nervosa would be a form of ‘self-medication’ in that case.

    kat_in_texas - please do not feel guilty. Because of the delusional nature of Anorexia Nervosa, the anorexic feels that anyone who tells them that they are thin and need to eat more is ‘out to get them’ and wants to make them fatter. Since so many of the people in their life are ‘out to get them’ they become very secretive. I have heard of ‘supports groups’ for anorexics where they get together to encourage one another in further weight loss and discuss ways of hiding their behavior from others. I have also heard of message boards for the same purpose, which are removed as soon as someone informs the host service of their presence.

    I have an anorexic friend who I fear may yet manage to starve herself to death, but I have learned that there is nothing I can do about it. My friend is also very stubborn - about everything. I have learned there is no point in calling and telling her there is a concert on the radio that she might enjoy or suggesting that she might also like a book I have read. She will never let anyone else ‘tell her what to do’ - about anything.

    [This Message was Edited on 12/06/2005]

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