What is Anorexia?

By: James Pendergraft

Anorexia is a disorder in which a person will avoid eating or eat as little as possible to avoid gaining weight. It is usually seen in young people, most commonly during their puberty stages. An anorexic individual suffers from intense weight loss issues. Their body is normally 15% below the ideal weight. Anorexics are very skinny but they still believe that they are overweight. In short, they have a fear of getting fat. This is why they develop erroneous diet habits. Anorexia is more common in adolescent girls than in boys. Only 10% of all anorexia patients are male.

An anorexic thinks that she is overweight even if she is severely thin or is already very ill. Worse, she could be on the verge of death because of her condition. Anorexia is very common to people with high socio-economic standing. The persons who live in a world where the people around them are skinny tend to develop anorexia. Dancers, models, and actresses usually suffer from this disorder. Anorexia nervosa is a health issue that involves the personís neurobiological, psychological, and sociological aspects. And it is a condition that may lead to severe complications like death.

Symptoms of Anorexia

Just like any other disorder, anorexia nervosa has different symptoms, although some of the patients donít experience any of them at all. The first symptom is the inconsistency of oneís weight with her age, build, and height.

Other symptoms of anorexia are:

1) The absence of menstrual period for 3 consecutive months
2) Refusal to eat in public
3) Anxiety
4) Weakness
5) Brittleness of the skin
6) Shortness of breath
7) Abnormal obsession about calorie intake

The symptoms of anorexia can be observed physically, behaviorally, emotionally, and psychologically. Anorexia can be linked to reduced blood flow on the temporal lobes due to starvation. The symptoms of anorexia in oneís physical features can be easily determined. Extreme weight loss, stunted growth, reduced metabolism, thinning of the hair, constantly feeling cold, and constipation are some of the common issues exhibited by anorexic patients.

The psychological symptoms of anorexia include perfectionism, distorted body image, poor insight, and obsessive thoughts about food and weight. On the emotional side, the symptoms of anorexia are low self-esteem, overweight phobia, clinical depression, and mood swings. Excessive exercising, food restriction, fainting, self-harm, suicidal tendencies, and the need to weigh constantly are symptoms of this disorder in behavioral aspect.

Causes of Anorexia

There is no definite cause of anorexia that has been determined. However, researches in the medical and psychological fields are continuously exploring the possible causes of this disorder.

Anorexia normally starts with the pressure to be thin and attractive. Experts say that this condition may be brought about by the dysfunction in the families of anorexic patients. One particular type of dysfunction among family members is interdependency. In which case, family members fail to find their own identity as individuals. In children, the dysfunction may include the fear of growing up.

How to Treat Anorexia

Just like any other eating disorder, anorexia does not require hospitalization - except for the cases where severe weight loss is observed, leading to impaired organ functions. Hospital treatments for anorexia are focused on replacing vital nutrients in the patientís body. Patients have to gain one to three pounds per week to address the problem. The overall treatment for anorexia touches on weight gain. It is a condition that can be treated by a medical doctor or a clinical psychologist, depending upon the progression of the disorder.

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