5 Facts About Anorexia Nervosa

We all struggle with weight and body image issues to some degree. After all, our society places so much importance on being thin. Between the diets, “lose weight quick” schemes, and magazine covers telling us to lose weight, it’s hard to feel comfortable in your own skin.

However, there are some people who struggle more than others and ultimately develop an unhealthy relationship with food and their body – leading to harmful eating habits.

Eating disorders are real, complex, and devastating conditions that have serious consequences on a person’s health, lifestyle, and relationships. They’re not a fad, phase, or lifestyle choice. Eating disorders are serious, potentially life-threatening conditions that affect a person’s physical and emotional well-being.

What Is Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa, sometimes simply referred to as anorexia, is one of the most common eating disorders. Anorexia is a potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by self-starvation, excessive weight loss, fear of gaining weight, distorted body image, and at times, excessive exercising.

For many people, restricting their food is a way to control areas of their life that feel out of control. In turn, they allow their body image to define their entire sense of self-worth. It can also be a way of expressing emotions that feel too complex or overwhelming such as pain, stress, or anxiety.

Being aware of the signs and symptoms of anorexia can make a huge difference in the duration and severity of the illness. The warning signs of anorexia can be physical, psychological, and behavioral. Not every person experiences every symptom, and it’s possible for someone to display a combination of these symptoms.

Some of the most common symptoms include (but are not limited to):

Physical signs:

  • Rapid weight loss or frequent changes in weight
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Lethargy and low energy
  • Facial changes, such as pale skin and sunken eyes

Psychological signs:

  • Preoccupation with food, eating, body shape, and weight
  • Feeling anxious or irritable around normal meal times
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Having a distorted body image (example: seeing themselves as fat when in reality they’re underweight)

Behavioral signs:

  • Eating in private and avoiding meals with other people
  • Extreme dieting behavior
  • Deliberate misuse of laxatives, appetite suppressants, enemas, and diuretics
  • Evidence of binge eating

5 Facts About Anorexia Nervosa

  1. The Cause Isn’t Fully Known

Anorexia nervosa is a complex disease, and the cause isn’t fully known. However, some of the factors that may lead to eating disorders include genetics, psychological health, environment, trauma, and biology.

  1. There Are Two-Subtypes of Anorexia Nervosa

There are two types of anorexia: restricting and binge eating/purging. People with anorexia nervosa restricting subtype place a severe restriction on the amount and type of food they consume. People with anorexia nervosa binge eating/purging subtype also restrict their food intake, but they also engage in binge eating/purging behavior.

  1. Most People Don’t Seek Treatment

Only one out of every 10 people with anorexia will ever seek treatment. Part of the problem is that the general population believes that anorexia isn’t a real disease. In turn, people are afraid to ask for help because they feel ashamed or don’t feel as though they’ll be taken seriously.

  1. Men Make Up 10% Of Those Suffering From Anorexia Nervosa

Although anorexia is far more common in women, men make up approximately 10% of those suffering from the disease. All too often, men are under and undiagnosed with anorexia because of its prevalence in females.

  1. Treatment Is Complex But Attainable

Recovery from anorexia is possible, even for someone who has been living with the disease for many years. Anorexia is often treated in an outpatient setting, but hospitalization may be necessary in some situations. The path to recovery can be long and challenging, but having the right team supporting you can make all the difference.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, contact the Orlando Recovery Center at 407.680.1226

Written by: Christina Bockisch

Christina is a blogger based in Fort Myers, Florida. She writes about mental health, fitness, and life as a whole on her blog, My Life in Wonderland. Follow her on Twitter.