One of the most important things to remember is that Eating Disorders are not always about food or weight. They are more often about the pain, anxiety, low self-esteem, or a perceived lack of control in their life. Their weight is one area in their life where they believe they can have control. Unfortunately those with Eating Disorders create an unrealistic body-image, seeing them self as fat when they are not.
Anorexia Nervosa is the maintenance of a body weight at least 15% below normal caused by the self-induced avoidance of "fatty" foods and one of the following: 1
Someone who is Anorexic sees himself or herself as fat despite their dangerously low body weight. This body-image distortion persists causing the person to impose ever-stricter dietary limits. The results of this on the health can vary but often include:
If Anorexia strikes before puberty, it can delayed or even stops the growth process itself. In girls, the breasts do not develop and there is a lack of menstruation. In boys, the genitals may remain juvenile. With recovery, puberty is usually completed normally, but the initial menstruation is often delayed. 1
Someone suffering from Anorexia may be described as a "walking skeleton" due to the pallor and frailty caused by their illness. Many other visible signs of the body's distress often accompany this illness including: 2
The self-starvation will eventually lead to a real loss of appetite as the individual becomes malnourished. This is often when help is finally forced on the individual through hospitalization.
As the illness progresses, the person runs the risk of heart, kidney, or multiple organ failure. It is estimated that between 5 and 20% of all Anorexics die from complications related to their illness. 2
Sean is a Founding Partner and Vice President of Get Mental Help, and the Editor of Mental Health Matters. His life changed in 1996 during a business trip to Southern California. After driving through the neighborhood where he grew up, he started recalling a series of traumatic events that eventually took over. After a four-month battle on his own to try and keep the memory buried, he finally sought help. During a series of voluntary stays in a local hospital, he was diagnosed with Depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He is currently involved in individual therapy and group therapy as he continues to cope with the recalled memory of childhood sexual abuse. Sean continues to recover daily, and is proud to be a part of a site that helps others.
Disorders - Eating Disorders
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