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In a time were people are so worried about the rise of obesity, interestingly enough many suffer from the complete opposite problem anorexia nervosa. People with anorexia are obsessed with food, their body weight and body shape. To prevent weight gain or continue losing weight, people with anorexia may starve themselves or exercise excessively.
Although anorexia centers around food, the disease isn't only about food. Anorexia is an unhealthy way to try and cope with emotional problems, perfectionism and a desire for control. When you have anorexia, you often equate your self worth with how skinny you are.
Physical signs and symptoms of anorexia include:
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Thin appearance
  • Abnormal blood counts
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Brittle nails
  • Hair that thins, breaks or falls out
  • Soft, downy hair covering the body
  • Absence of menstruation
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Intolerance of cold
  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dehydration
  • Osteoporosis
Emotional and behavioral characteristics associated with anorexia include:
  • Refusal to eat
  • Denial of hunger
  • Excessive exercise
  • Flat mood, or lack of emotion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Preoccupation with food
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research

Approximately 95% of people affected by anorexia are female, but males can develop this disorder as well. Anorexia typically becomes apparent in the early stages of adolescence, however it is now being manifest in younger children and older adults.

Stoppler, MC. 2009. Anorexia Nervosa

Many different kinds of therapies have been used successfully to treat people with anorexia. Some of these therapies are individual therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, group therapy and family therapy. An appropriate treatment must address the underlying issues of control and self-perception.

Stoppler, MC. 2009. Anorexia Nervosa

If you have a family member with an eating disorder, they need a lot of support. Suggest that your family member see an eating disorder expert. Be prepared for denial, resistance, and even anger.

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