Weight loss is a reduction in a person’s body mass. Weight loss can occur due to diseases of the organs and systems of the body. Recently, however, this condition is also identified as a consequence of experiencing stress.
A loss of 1-2 kilograms is within the norm. But losing more than 5% of your body weight in a week should catch your attention. Besides the presence of concurrent diseases, causes of weight loss include:
- Disrupted eating patterns,
- Asthenic physique, or thinness (dryness, leanness with a narrow chest and poorly developed muscles),
- Genetic predisposition,
- Transitional age,
- Hormonal imbalances,
- Unhealthy habits,
- Increased physical activity,
- Stress, etc.
Note that excessive weight loss can have dangerous health consequences: sleep disturbances, menstrual cycle disruptions, decreased immunity, body exhaustion, headaches, weakness, arrhythmia, gastrointestinal disorders, etc. Rapid weight loss is termed cachexia.
It’s important to separately mention anorexia – a disease with a neuropsychiatric disorder, at the core of which lies the fear of obesity and an obsessive desire to lose weight. Nervous anorexia, manifesting as a persistent refusal to eat, is also known as cachexia (the last stage of exhaustion). The basis of this ailment includes such psychological disorders as depression, obsessive-compulsive syndromes, phobias, severe stress, neurasthenia, and even schizophrenia.
Note that cachexia (loss of more than 50% of normal body mass) can lead to a fatal outcome. Symptoms of anorexia include:
- Obsession with counting calories,
- Constant refusal of food,
- Eating with tiny portions,
- Avoiding social dining,
- Obsessive desire to lose weight,
- Fatphobia (fear of gaining weight), etc.
Causes of anorexia include:
- Personality traits (pathological self-love, stubbornness, low self-esteem, etc.),
- Difficult adolescence,
- Problematic relationships with parents,
- Incorrect perception of appearance,
- Genetic predisposition,
- Frequent gastrointestinal diseases, etc.
It’s been found that anorexia can also occur in early childhood for reasons such as overprotection, lack of parental attention, improper or irregular nutrition, excess sweets, etc.
Psychosomatics of Weight Loss on a Nervous Basis
It is known that in a stressful situation, the human body switches to energy-saving mode (starts saving strength), leading to reduced or lost appetite. (For information: appetite is the human body’s drive to consume food, as well as the physiological mechanism regulating the intake of nutrients into the body.)
This body reaction is associated with the fact that stress is perceived as an illness. And, according to psychotherapist R. Gould, the nature of the human body is such that there is no need for intensive nutrition during illness. Therefore, appetite disappears.
On the other hand, during nervous tensions, when all a person’s thoughts are occupied with problems, they cannot think about food. In such cases, weight loss is a consequence of stress. In the language of psychosomatics, the body’s signal in the form of weight loss means that the intensity of experiences needs to be reduced (R. Gould).
The psychosomatics of anorexia, according to neurologist Missier, are linked to causes such as psychological discomfort and interpersonal relationship problems.
Psychological Causes of Weight Loss on a Nervous Basis
Louise Hay explains the cause of decreased appetite with negative emotions such as fear, self-defense, distrust of life. Anorexia, in her opinion, reflects a denial of life, exaggerated fears, self-hatred, and denial of oneself as a personality.
Lise Bourbeau believes that unlike weight loss, thinness is not a sign of illness. She asserts that thin people usually do not like themselves, feel insignificant next to others, and fear being rejected. According to her view, such people often want to disappear, sink through the ground, strive to be inconspicuous and courteous. The fear of being rejected makes them sacrifice their interests and can hinder action.
Lise Bourbeau writes that a thin person can also be dependent on others, thinking that they have never received enough attention and love. This is related to a psychological trauma in early childhood, when the child felt rejected and abandoned.
Paths to Healing Weight Loss on a Nervous Basis
The paths to healing weight loss from nerves can only be related to strengthening the nervous system. This will increase its stress resistance, allowing a person to perceive life events and challenges more evenly, without harm to themselves.
These methods can include all ways and means that bring a person emotional balance, inner peace, and relaxation. Each person will have their own individual set of methods, which can include: adequate sleep, interaction with nature, hobbies, creative or sports activities, listening to favorite music, etc.
Realizing the thought that often a person creates their own stresses (dwells on and does not forgive grievances, accumulates negative emotions of fear, hatred, anger) also contributes to healing.
In this case, you should ask yourself: ‘What useful and good does this negative emotion (name your version) give me?’. It is unlikely that you will find something useful in self-hatred (towards your body, etc.) that makes you feel good. On the contrary, this feeling can bring only destructive consequences to its possessor. If you don’t believe it, analyze your ailment experience.
Regarding such a serious and dangerous disease as anorexia, its treatment requires active participation by specialists, doctors, and psychotherapists. In this case, the family of a person with anorexia should remember one thing: with anorexia, you cannot force-feed, as this will only worsen the situation.
And generally, if we touched on the issue of family participation, regardless of the type of ailment related to weight loss or not, relatives can and should provide moral support. But in no case should they reproach or constantly point out to the patient (as often happens) suffering from thinness, anorexia, or another ailment.
If you can’t say anything supportive, it’s better to remain silent than to reproduce negativity (‘I told you so’, etc.).
Support each other and stay healthy!