What is Anorexia?
Anorexia is a condition commonly defined as self-induced starvation. This definition can be misleading because a person with anorexia is often hungry but will refuse to eat by denying their own hunger and need for food as a result of an intense and distorted fear of becoming fat. Other symptoms include excessive weight loss, restrictive control of caloric and fat intake, as well as obsessive thoughts of food/preparation and extreme worry about body shape and size.
Physical complications of Anorexia Nervosa
- Heart damage (murmur, rhythm disturbance, heart failure)
- Kidney problems (stones, kidney failure)
- Bone density problemsLow blood sugar, low pulse, low respiratory rate, elevated cholesterol
- Low blood sugar, low pulse, low respiratory rate, elevated cholesterol
- Electrolytic imbalances
- Dehydration and malnutritionConstipation or slower emptying of food from the stomach
- Constipation or slower emptying of food from the stomachChanges in menstrual cycle
- Changes in menstrual cycleLow body temperature, slowed circulation
- Low body temperature, slowed circulationDeteriorating hair and nail quality
- Deteriorating hair and nail qualitySleep disturbances
- Sleep disturbances
- Skin rash, lanugo hair (soft hair that appears on the body for warmth)
- Water retention, bloating, abdominal painDepression and mood swings
- Depression and mood swings
- Reduced energy
More about this eating disorder
Anorexia is a complex disorder that usually develops slowly over a period of time. No one ever started out to get Anorexia nor did anything wrong for it to happen. So really, there is no reason for blame or shame.
Yet, many eating disorder individuals feel embarrassed and guilty about upsetting or worrying their family or friends and are reluctant to share their disgust with being fat, or being obsessed with exercising. They begin to hide unspoken fears through isolating and avoiding being around others at meal time.
The fear of ridicule often causes induced vomiting and the use of laxatives to be the closest kept secret. An honest and simple attempt to be healthier by cutting out junk food and starting to walk turns into dark disaster for many.
Who gets Anorexia?
Anorexia tends to develop during the teen years, but not always. This seductive disorder can find its way into the lives of those younger and older. No one is left out of its dangerous reach.
It tends to find targets who often have a tendency to be perfectionist and struggle with knowing when enough is enough. If an A- was a test score then it should have been an A. If they ran for 2 miles then it should have been 5; if they lost 5 pounds then another 5 more is needed.
Those who have difficulties believing in themselves and feeling positive about their appearance or judge their worth on their looks are candidates as well.
What would be the big deal if I have Anorexia?
Few people know that Anorexia and other eating disorders cause more deaths than any other mental health issue or disorder. However, they are the leading cause of death in the young female population. Many think, “oh that would never happen to me”, and for many, it doesn’t, but over 500,000 lose this battle every year.
There is no need for anyone to struggle with or die from Anorexia or any other eating disorder. Stepping out of the darkness of denial and having a voice to let those who care help is the first step to Recovery. Recognizing that the person is not the eating disorder is critical to separating from the convincing and destructive nature of Anorexia.
Can I Get Treatment for Anorexia?
Treatment is available for Anorexia. And importantly, full Recovery is possible.
At Canopy Cove, we have over 25 years of specialized experience helping young women and men (and their families) overcome their struggles with Anorexia Nervosa and other eating disorders.