Stages of Change (SOC) in Anorexia
Anorexia nervosa is a serious eating disorder in which individuals often restrict the types of food they eat as well as the amount of calories they consume. Other hallmarks of anorexia nervosa might include:
- Being an abnormally low weight for someone of their age and stature
- Weight loss
- Having a distorted body image
- Being unable to gain enough weight (in growing children)
People who are suffering from anorexia nervosa could also exercise compulsively, binge eat, and purge via self-induced vomiting or by using laxatives and/or diuretics.
Types of Anorexia
The National Eating Disorders Collaboration spits anorexia nervosa into two major subtypes:
- People with the restricting subtype restrict how much food they eat and what types they consume. They might also couple these behaviors with excessive working out.
- People with the binge eating and purging subtype also restrict how much food and what types of it they consume, but also purge their food and might even binge eat. Binge eating episodes are marked by feeling a loss of control while eating a large amount of food; and a hallmark of purging behavior is engaging in compensatory behavior after a binge eating session that could involve self-inducing vomiting and/or misusing enemas, laxatives, and/or diuretics.
Health Risks of Anorexia
Anorexia nervosa is a disease associated with many different potential health risks. Some could include:
- Kidney failure
- Having a compromised immune system, leaving someone increasingly susceptible to illness
- Heart issues, such as cardiac abnormalities and sudden cardiac arrest
- An increased risk of infertility in both men and women
- Gastrointestinal issues, such as constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain
- Menstrual irregularities or halting
- Anemia, or iron deficiency
- Osteoporosis, or a weakening of the bones that leaves them prone to breaks and fractures
Anorexia can also result in sudden death, highlighting the importance of early intervention and seeking treatment.
Recovering from Anorexia
It is important to remember that no two recovery journeys from an eating disorder will necessarily look alike, as everyone has their own specific situation with its own needs.
The National Eating Disorders Association suggests that people look at recovery from an eating disorder as five (sometimes six) different stages of change. These include:
- The pre-contemplation stage: people may not yet be convinced they have an eating disorder, though their loved ones are aware.
- The contemplation stage: people can admit they have an eating disorder and feel ready for treatment.
- The preparation stage: this stage begins once people feel ready to change, but do not yet know how to proceed. During this time, it is important to establish effective coping skills.
- The action stage: this begins once people feel ready to put their recovery strategy into action and confront their eating disorder.
- The maintenance stage: also called the maintenance/relapse phase, people reach this point once they have been in the action stage for about six or more months. During this stage, a treatment team may suggest that people revisit potential triggers in an effort to prevent them from relapsing.
- The termination stage and relapse prevention: during this time, people may learn that it is time to stop treatment.
How to Get Help:
If you or a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder, you may wish to contact an eating disorder hotline or find treatment programs near you. You may also contact us at Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists via phone (866-525-2766), email, or by filling out our contact form.