Anorexia: The Horrible Truth

by Sally Brown
(London, U.K.)

Imagine that the reflection in the mirror shows rolls of fat drooping from every area of your body!.

Heavy bulges of fat wrap your body like a blanket. This is what anorexics see every time they look at themselves, even if they are dangerously underweight.

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that is described by the intense fear of being fat accompanied with a distorted self view where the inflicted person only sees themselves as overweight. Anorexics starve themselves without mercy. Becoming 15% below a person’s normal body weight is typical of an anorexic.

This weight loss is achieved though several unhealthy methods. Often an anorexic will exercise excessively, take laxatives, starve themselves, or use of combination of these. This, combined with the low body weight, often causes the anorexic to become severely ill, and often close to death.

Strange eating habits can also accompany anorexia. An anorexic might not want to let people see them eat, or they could cook a huge meal for other people and then refuse to eat any of it.

Anorexia is a psychological disorder, so it is going to take a lot of support from family and most likely a trained professional to guide the anorexic back to health. Resistance to help is common among anorexics, so anger and denial can easily surface.

The list of dangerous medical problems associated with anorexia is frightening. Shrinking of bones and mineral loss are dangerous enough, but they also lead to osteoporosis. An irregular heartbeat as well as a low body temperature can also develop.

Anorexia usually sets in around puberty, but it is also associated with people of high socio-economic class. Modeling, theater, long distance running, and any other activities where thinness is encouraged are susceptible to anorexia.

Roughly 1% of teenage girls will fall victim to anorexia nervosa in the United States, and an estimated 10% of these girls will die from the effects that follow. Though girls are more likely to fall victim to anorexia, boys are not immune.

Warning signs to look for to identify anorexia nervosa are:

* loss of menstrual period
* dieting obsessively without being overweight
* being 15% or more below normal body weight
* an obvious preoccupation with food and calories
* claiming to be overweight when they are not
* denial of hunger
* obsessive exercise

The best course of action for someone that fears a friend or family member might have fallen victim to anorexia nervosa is to contact a trained health professional. There are eating disorder specialists who are trained specifically for identifying and treating of people with these illnesses.

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Updated: November 5, 2013 — 5:50 am

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