Anorexia Nervosa: Common, Widespread Eating Disorder
Anorexia Nervosa is a very common, widespread eating disorder that affects individuals psychologically, emotionally, and physically. Those suffering from this eating disorder are commonly suffering from extremely low self-esteem and body weight. Individuals struggling with Anorexia typically fear to gain weight and are always conscious of what they are eating. They perceive their body as a distorted image, instead of viewing reality. Anorexia victims fear their body image as disproportional to their height and weight. An introduction to this disorder might be a slight weight loss that strikes compliments or simply an internal feeling of accomplishment. They psychologically feel complete as they struggle to properly nourish their body and mind. Anorexia is a serious eating disorder that can be life threatening if signs/symptoms are not noticed and treated in time.
“”Anorexia Nervosa, commonly referred to as anorexia, is an eating disorder involving excessive dieting; preoccupation with food”” (Batten 100). Victims of anorexia use dieting as an excuse for their refusal to eat a normal amount of food. These individuals have extreme self-discipline and always keep track of the quantity and calories of the foods they intake. Anorexia slowly grabs hold of its victim’s mindset after others reward the loss of a few pounds. They desire this affection from others. This results in them keeping up their routine. Therefore, undernourishment and improper body weight is the result. Anorexia, over the years, has become a serious eating disorder that is life threatening. If signs and symptoms, of an anorexic, continuously go unnoticed and untreated, the victim could die of starvation or malnourishment. Though the cause of anorexia nervosa is still unknown, no one sets out to have this disorder.
How it works
Although it’s still undiscovered, other factors can play a role. Society’s pressure, emotional hardships, genetic variability’s, and family disputes can have an effect. Magazines and celebrities impact females at young ages, creating an ideal body image and lifestyle for girls to idolize and fiend to achieve. Most anorexics view the skinnier and the prettiest as the most perfect people within society. This psychologically affects the individual by forcing them to compare themselves constantly to other people and their bodies. Genetic variability is the difference of characteristics between individuals in a population.
A mindset of an anorexic might not realize the variety of those around them. People suffering from the disease often have in their head they are not good enough. If an image from celebrities and the individual’s insecurities weren’t enough, lack of family support might add to the psychological load. According to the book Eating Disorders: The Impact on Children and Families, “”In a study of parent-child relationships in 80 young women, both bulimics and anorexics viewed their parents as more blaming, rejecting, and neglectful toward them than did controls and they treated themselves hostility and deprivation(5). Family support and genetic background play a huge part in the mental/emotional spectrum of someone’s life. Parental approval makes a child feel a kind of perfection. If that child feels he or she has failed to achieve approval or a sense of affection from a parent, he or she might take serious action to gain that attention. Many experts think that anorexia is part of an unconscious attempt to come to terms with unresolved conflicts or traumatic childhood experience that has not left their mind. Also, if a sibling or a parent has a disease, the related individual is more likely to develop the disease than someone with no affiliation. Therefore, individuals with anorexia in their hereditary, have a higher diagnostic rate in their lifetime, than those who do not. Even though they feel helpless, help can be available.
Receiving help as an anorexic can feel like a long shot and the only way they may be open to it, is to be convinced, themselves, they need it. Different Stages of treatment are available, a counselor could help, but they all start with a trip to the doctor’s office to examine the individual’s health condition and mental state. A doctor might analyze the state of their body, run a blood test, and ask thorough questions to the patient about his or her outlook on eating habits and how they feel about their appearance. Referrals might be made towards a nutritional specialist or require they see a therapist to talk about feelings and issues that may have caused the disorder. The medical professionals might associate depression or an anxiety disorder diagnostic with the anorexia nervosa. The similar feelings of sadness, pessimism, the significant change in appetite, discomfort within their skin, and constant worry over bodyweight and eating habits usually associate the three disorders. According to Human Diseases and Conditions, group therapy brings together people with similar concerns to share their experiences and receive support. Group therapy would allow the patient to understand others suffer from the same problems and sense of feelings. The conversing with fellow sufferers could either allow the individual to cope better or elevate the issue.
As I stated previously, anorexia nervosa can severely damage the individual’s mental state but it also leads to a number of physical problems. According to the Journal of Eating Disorders, it is very common for people suffering from the disease to have very dry skin. This dry of skin makes it a lot easier for the skin to break, which will cause the individual to bleed. The cause of this dry skin is from a lack of hydration in the body. This lack of hydration and nourishment can also cause anorexics to become very cold. It is common for them to suffer from an illness called acrocyanosis. People who suffer from acrocyanosis have cold intolerance and tend to have a bluish discoloration to the distal tips of their fingers as well as their nose and ears. This stems from the shunting of blood flow through the body, which is similar to what happens when you have hypothermia.
When people suffering from anorexia have acrocyanosis, they tend to also have problems with hair growth in and around the body. How I think about the situation, is when I get cold from being outside for to long, I get goose bumps and the hairs on my arms and legs stand up. Those hairs are standing up and growing due to the lack of heat my body is putting off. Well, in an anorexics case, those goose bumps and hairs standing is a constant thing no matter if they are inside or outside. Another result from the disrupted body temperature of an anorexic is that they grow a special type of hair. This hair is called lanugo hair. According to Valencnia Higuera, “”Lanugo is the hair that covers the body of some newborns. This downy, unpigmented hair is the first type of hair that grows from hair follicles. It can be found everywhere on a baby’s body, except on the palms, lips, and soles of the feet. This type of hair is typically shed from the baby before childbirth and will not return. The only exception for this hair to grow is for an individual to be severely malnourished. This type of hair grows due to the body’s natural response to being cold.
On the flipside, extremely malnourished individuals can also lose hair. When these people do lose their hair, it is typically from regions with a concentrated amount, like your head. The hair can start thinning and falling out due to the individual being starving and not properly nourished. The reason the body lets the hair fall out is because hair contains a protein called keratin. Keratin is not needed for our body to function. When suffering from an eating disorder the body needs all of its major internal organs to be working extra hard and to be able to do that the body loses something not as important in return.
Anorexia itself is already a life threatening disease and paired with its sidekick bulimia nervosa can do numerous things to damage your body. “”Bulimia Nervosa is a psychological and severe life-threatening eating disorder described by the ingestion of an abnormally large amount of food in short time period, followed by an attempt to avoid gaining weight by purging what was consumed. Purging is the key element in bulimia nervosa. There are many different methods to purge the food you had recently eaten, but the most common ways are forcing yourself to throw up. Many do this by sticking their fingers down their throat, which the body’s immediate response is to vomit. Another way people suffering from eating disorders purge themselves is by voluntarily taking an absurd amount of laxatives or diuretics. By taking the pills, it will cause your stomach to feel very uncomfortable, resulting in very frequent unpleasant bowel movements.
Along with anorexia, bulimia also causes many similar physical health problems. Although one of the biggest health effects that only comes with bulimia is inflammation of the esophagus. People suffering from this illness can make themselves throw up numerous times a day. When you throw up you are bringing acids from your stomach along with it, which coats your esophagus and mouth. Doing this frequently can inflame and tear apart your stomach to nothing. By purging you are also very susceptible to destroy your teeth. These stomach acids are not meant to be in your mouth and are corrosive, enough to wear away at the enamel that covers and protects your teeth. These acids and food being brought back up will lead to cavities and yellow teeth. With anorexia and bulimia typically being used together it is imperative that our society does more to make a change to this crisis.
To make matters worse, with all the technology and ways to communicate online has triggered these struggling individuals to seek the Internet for motivation from other people suffering from the disease to keep pursuing their anorexic journey. These sites that they are going onto are referred as “”pro-ana sites. It is called pro ana due to the fact that they are supporting the anorexic ways. These sites have everything from personal stories to tips for those struggling. For example, a tip listed is to stand in front of the mirror and examine every inch of your body. The people making and viewing these sites do not see that what they are doing is wrong. They consider the disease to be a lifestyle choice, when in fact it is killing them. The fact that these sites are allowed on the Internet for anyone to see is astonishing.
In conclusion anorexia is an extremely serious disease. It is the most fatal of any mental health disease and will kill you from the inside out. It is an extremely harmful illness because the person affected does not see what it is doing to them. They see themselves as not being good enough even after they lost weight; enough is not enough for these suffering individuals. Our society needs to make it more apparent how big of an issue this is. From personal experiences this illness can ruin lives and completely change the way you think of yourself. The signs of this illness are very apparent and should not be something to keep to yourself. If you have any indication at all that someone you know is struggling from anorexia speak up and get them help before it is to late.