The Dangers of Anorexia Nervosa Health N Active
disorders are a very serious problem that affects many women. One of the most
dangerous of eating disorders is known as anorexia nervosa. Approximately 7
percent of American women suffer from this condition. This is a psychologically
based disorder that makes a person perceive themselves as overweight when they
are in fact malnourished and extremely thin. Many teenage girls are affected by
anorexia nervosa due to the media culture that pushes the concept of extreme
thinness as attractive for young girls. Our culture tends to portray beauty by
size. Girls are very impressionable at this age and will go to great lengths to
achieve what they believe is beauty. Many adult women also battle with this
disorder. Oftentimes these individuals feel powerless and by controlling their
calories they feel they have control over their lives and extreme willpower.
of the disorder: There are a variety of causes for this disorder. Researchers
have found that anorexia usually develops in families where one person has
already become anorexic. It seems that environmental factors play a role in
anorexia. For example, if a sibling is anorexic it is more likely that another
family member may develop it. This may also be related to family dynamics such
as tendencies to be overemotional and perfectionists. Anorexia therefore can be
a learned behavior that is then modeled by other family members. Cultural
influences: Our media is relentless in its portrayal of the ideal woman as
being very thin. The image is contradictory to the natural female shape and it
is very difficult if not impossible for most women to achieve that level of
thinness. It is also extremely unhealthy. The models in fashion magazines have
figures that are extremely underweight and these are the role models that teens
and women look at when judging themselves and their own bodies.
symptoms of anorexia nervosa: This disorder can be deadly. If you are aware of
someone who has this eating disorder they need to have immediate medical
intervention because it can be life saving for them. Believing that they are
overweight these individuals refuse to eat and are terrified at the thought of
gaining any weight at all. Women and girls who have this disorder will exhibit
an extreme dislike of their own physical body. They are ironically, obsessed
with food. They will think and talk about food all the time in a negative
fashion. They will compulsively plan out their eating activities. Sufferers
also may display very competitive behavior in other areas of their life. They
will have perfectionist tendencies as they are very unhappy with themselves and
feel that they are not good enough. As the condition worsens and their bodies
weaken they may develop mood disorders from lack of nutrition. Depression, mood
swings and difficulty sleeping may occur. Physical symptoms include extreme
weight loss, dry skin, tooth loss, constipation, and lack of menstruation and
lowered heart rate. These physical symptoms can become a very dangerous health
A medical professional will conduct a variety of tests to determine if the
condition is anorexia. This will include a battery of psychological testing as
well as physical exams, blood and urine tests. Intervention: If you believe
that your loved one or a friend suffers with anorexia you need to intervene and
provide them with the support they need to overcome this dreadful condition.
The best approach is a calm approach because the individual is suffering from a
psychological disorder and may feel that you are attacking them and that what
you are saying is not true. Try not to judge them harshly but rather be kind
and supportive. Provide them with a safe environment where they can freely discuss
their feelings. They may deny that there is any problem. However some people
may respond at this point and open up about hurts or reasons why they are
unhappy with their weight. This is a very helpful first step. You do not want
to alienate them and make the problem even worse as it is a delicate situation
Centers: There are many reputable treatment centers that deal specifically with
this disorder. This is where medical doctors and trained counselors can help
the individual dealing with anorexia. Getting them into a good program is
essential to their well being. They need to be under a doctor''s care to ensure
that their physical health does not deteriorate. Psychological counseling as
well as possible medication can become part of an effective treatment program.
Throughout this process, the person should continue to receive as much support
and encouragement from family and friends as possible. This is a battle that
can end in victory or defeat. It is a very serious condition and it may be
something that the person may have to deal with for the rest of their lives.
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