Anorexia Nervosa is a life-threatening eating disorder that affects both men and women of all ages and backgrounds. It is categorized by self-starvation and extreme weight loss. Other compensatory methods such as self-induced vomiting, laxatives, and excessive exercise may also be contributors to the weight loss experienced in addition to food restriction.
The DSM-V dictates three key features that are present in those suffering from anorexia:
- Persistent restrictive eating behaviors
- Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat
- Disturbance in self-perceived weight or shape
Due to the severity of starvation on the body, many physiological processes are put at great risk when someone suffers from anorexia. When the body does not receive proper nourishment from food, it is unable to obtain the essential nutrients it needs to keep itself functioning efficiently. As a result, it has no choice but to slow down the rate at which it does work in an effort to conserve as much energy as possible.
However, this method of protection does not come without sacrifice. The heart becomes overworked which is evidenced by a reduced heart rate and lowered blood pressure. Bone and muscle loss also occur as the body is forced to break itself down to retrieve vital nutrients such as protein and calcium that are lacking in the diet. The restriction of fluids can lead to dehydration, causing your heart and kidneys to work harder than they were meant to. Overall signs of muscle weakness and fatigue are also common due to the lack of available energy. Bottom line – your body suffers serious damage when it is denied the nutrition it so desperately needs despite the conflicting messages received sent by an eating disorder.
If you are suffering from anorexia, you are not alone. Between 0.5-1% of American women suffer from anorexia as well as a growing number of men. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, however only one in ten people receive treatment. Professionals who work with individuals with eating disorders agree that prompt and intensive eating disorder treatment greatly improves a person’s ability to experience recovery and live ED-free.
At Canopy Cove, we are committed to offering a multi-disciplinary approach to eating disorder treatment in order to best serve this population. We encourage you to seek help and know that there is life beyond the grasp of your eating disorder.
For more information regarding eating disorder treatment at Canopy Cove, please call 1-800-236-7524.
~Ashlee Overstreet, Supervisor of Dietetic Services