Anorexia is a dangerous mental health condition that makes people extremely ill as they begin to starve their bodies. Anorexics often experience a distorted image of their own body - believing that they're fat even though they can be dangerously underweight.
Both men and women can experience anorexia, and it can be triggered at any age. However, the condition is most common in young women; typically beginning during their mid-teens.
The symptoms of anorexia
- For under 18s, a lower-than-expected weight and height
- For adults an unusually low BMI (Body Mass Index)
- Eating tiny amounts or missing meals completely.
- Avoiding food perceived to be fattening
- The belief that a person is overweight when they are clearly underweight
- Using medicines to suppress hunger
- Infrequent or ceased menstruation
- Frequent light-headedness or dizziness
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
What causes anorexia?
The NHS consider eating disorders to be principally mental health conditions and most treatments for anorexia focus on therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and counselling.
Treatments for eating disorders explore emotional pain and difficulties with personal relationships emerging from past trauma or experiences of abuse. Internalised family issues can often be root causes and triggers for anorexia sufferers.
Anorexics tend to have food fixations. They may cook generously for other people, but are unlikely to eat the food themselves. While the precise cause of anorexia will vary wildly from person-to-person, people are considered to be at risk of the condition in the following circumstances:
- There’s a family history of eating disorders, alcohol/drug addiction, or depression
- They have experienced criticism for their body shape/weight or their eating habits
- They are obsessed with being slim - especially as a result of perceived professional or societal pressure (ballet dancers, models, athletes, etc.)
- They experience low self-esteem or anxiety
- They present an obsessive or perfectionist personality
- They have been sexually abused
What are the health risks associated with anorexia?
The potential complications caused by malnutrition can include:
- Muscular and skeletal problems - including bone conditions such as osteoporosis.
- Fatigue and physical weakness
- Fertility issues
- Decreased sex drive
- Heart problems and issues with the blood vessels - including bad circulation, irregular heartbeat, heart valve disease, low blood pressure, and even heart failure.
- Swelling in the face, feet, or hands (known as oedema)
- Brain and nerve issues - including seizures
- Poor concentration and memory
- Bowel and kidney conditions
- Anaemia or a weak immune system
Orthorexia is a fixation on healthy eating, mainly focusing on the purity or quality of the food they consume. The condition isn't officially considered to be an eating disorder but can lead to the types of obsessive behaviours related to anorexia and bulimia.
Orthorexia is becoming more prevalent and is often attributed to inexpert advice from unqualified healthy eating bloggers. While healthy eating is generally considered a positive pursuit, some people are putting their lives at risk by crash dieting and obsessing over the health properties of certain foods.
Expert help is at hand
For help with overcoming anorexia or other eating disorders you can reach us by phone on 07809 668193 at any time, or contact us by email to discuss any questions about addiction recovery therapy.
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