Anorexia is an eating disorder - with complex, underlying causes but displays three basic, outward symptoms:
  • Self-disgust and distorted view of body image
  • An intense fear of gaining weight
  • Refusal to maintain a healthy body weight

Food intake, dieting and body image becomes a daily obsession – often to the exclusion of normal family and social life. Although sufferers will go to extreme lengths to lose weight in their constant pursuit of an ideal, but ultimately, unobtainable body size, there is often a denial of even having a problem.

Adolescent girls and young women are most commonly affected – the condition first developing at around the age of 16 to 17, often starts with normal dieting and exercising. As the weight drops off, the sufferer becomes obsessed with the desire to become even slimmer but it's never enough. Pre-teenage girls, men and older women can also be affected.

Eating disorders, food and weight-related issues - are known to be the outward expression of underlying problems associated with feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem , pressure to be 'perfect', or powerlessness.

Anorexia provides a way to regain a sense of control - by saying "no" to eating food give sufferers a temporary sense of achievement and feeling strong once more while covering up feelings of anger, pain and self-loathing.

Anorexia can be used as a distraction - to avoid facing up to difficult emotions or areas of their life they have no control over. Every possible moment can be focused upon thinking about food, dieting, and weight loss, and blocking out other life problems or more complicated emotions.

Symptoms and Warning Signs

Anorexics often become secretive and moody, often going to great lengths to hide their behaviour from family and friends. The obsession with counting calories and exercising can lead to increased isolation and emotional pain.

Anorexia can result in a whole range of physical problems and behaviours, including:
  • Missing meals, eating very little , avoiding eating any fatty food, obsessively counting calories
  • Leaving the table immediately after eating to vomit
  • Taking appetite suppressants, laxatives or diuretics (removes fluid from the body)
  • Repeatedly checking body weight
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy, hair loss or dry skin
  • Irregular or loss of menstrual periods, which can lead to infertility issues.
  • Bones can become thin and osteoporosis can develop.
  • Organ failure / Heart attack

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