Anorexia is typically identified by a lower than normal body weight. The statistic used to diagnose is 15% below ideal body weight. However not everyone who is underweight is Anorexic.
Causes and Symptoms of Anorexia
Anorexia is remarkably similar to an obsessive compulsive disorder. Many anorexics are driven people, with a very strong desire to succeed or achieve. Unfortunately this addiction can drive an anorexics weight far below what is healthy. This can play havoc with menstruation, hormonal activity, and osteo-arthritic problems can develop. You can often tell an anorexic by the fine hair that covers their face or body. This is the bodies reaction to a lack of protein.
Most anorexics are effectively on a starvation diet, denying themselves food at every opportunity. Many are also frequent and obsessive exercisers - be it walking, running, or aerobics.
Self-image becomes very distorted as the anorexic can never quite achieve the right weight, and always feels fat or overweight. The fear of gaining weight becomes overwhelming, and can dominate the persons thought life, and begin to consume their entire life and relationships. Meal times are a particularly challenging time, and many anorexics will cut their food into tiny portions in an attempt to control each and every bite.
The causes of anorexia are varied and complex, although there are often common patterns occurring in the family or background of the anorexic. A perfectionist drive, parental expectations (and dieting), fear of growing up, a need for control are but a few attributes.
The Consequences of Anorexia
Along with Bulimia, Anorexia brings about an enormous number of medical complications - some of which are:
- Cardiovascular problems
- Fatigue, tiredness, listlessness
- Dizzy, faint spells, low blood pressure,
- Shortness of breath
- Hair loss
- Often cold
- Death (Young women that have anorexia nervosa have a 12 times higher chance of dying than their peers - often due to Cardiac arrest or suicide)
Healing and Recovery
Like bulimia, recovering from anorexia is a long process. There is no doubt that the earlier the illness is identified, the better chance there is of making a recovery.
Treatment can involve hospitalization where the sufferers diet is controlled. Counseling and psychotherapy are used to address the deeper issues. Outpatient treatment can also involve weekly support meetings, and other programs.
This is a long-term recovery process. Thought patterns and survival techniques that took years to learn must be unlearned.
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