The symptoms and effects of Anorexia, a deadly eating disorder

In a world where “size zero” is glorified beyond what it’s really worth, there are desperate souls who stake their lives to achieve the “perfect figure”. But what is it they are really running after? Do they really know the benchmark they’re trying to achieve? Is being skinny so important as to bet one’s life on it? Or is there something deeper to their misery? This article reveals some stunning realities of a class of people, called anorexics.

Anorexia– What is it?

Medically, anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder. To me, it’s a more complex psychological phenomenon that bares itself in the form of eating abnormalities.

When the idea of “being thin” overpowers your thoughts, actions (more precisely eating habits) and life, the condition is termed anorexia.

Anorexia is typically characterized by:

  • A denial of your true body image
  • A refusal to maintain healthy body weight
  • An overpowering fear of putting on weight

It can occur in men as well as women and it strips you of the ability to see yourself as you really are. Meaning, you become so obsessed with the idea of being thin, that you even lose perspective of “what is thin enough”. No matter how thin you get, it’s never enough. It’s almost like jumping into a bottomless pit or chasing an illusion.

What lies deeper is that people with anorexia eating disorder are actually not running after “being thin” at all. They just use that elusive goal, to camouflage underlying problems of their life- depression, insecurity or a pressure to be perfect- things that they really cannot control. So controlling their eating habits, not eating when they are hungry or forcibly cutting down food intake gives them that sense of control, which they lack in other areas of their life.

Anorexia Causes

The cause could be genetic- a girl whose sibling suffers from the condition is more likely to get it. Or it may stem from societal pressures like patronizing “being thin”. Sometimes it has its roots in stressful life events, over-controlling parents who are critical of their child’s appearance or an unnatural urge to be the best in a field like modeling, gymnastics, ballet etc.

Anorexia Risk Factors

Low self-esteem, troubled relationships, perfectionism and dissatisfaction with one’s self-image are among prominent risk factors.

Anorexia symptoms

Behavioral symptoms

  • Rigid dieting or exercise regimes, despite being thin
  • Hiding one’s food habits from others
  • Obsession with calories and nutrition
  • Always thinking about food- what is ok to have, and what isn’t, even as they avoid food all the time

Body Image symptoms

  • Drastic weight loss
  • Constantly feeling fat, even when he/she is actually thin
  • Obsession with body image

Other symptoms could include vomiting after eating or chewing and throwing away food or using diet pills, laxatives or diuretics.

Anorexia Effects

Anorexia can lead to starvation and weakness, severe mood swings, fainting and headaches, slowed thinking and memory and lots of other physical effects like tooth and gum decay, brittle nails, constipation and hair growth all over the body.

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