Anorexia is a type of eating disorder. Everybody irrespective of their gender wants to look good. When this feeling overtakes the mind in a very obsessive manner it is known as Anorexia. When you have anorexia the obsession to lose weight and stay thin overtakes all other desires and the mind is full of thoughts like what to eat and what not to eat with your shape in mind. The obsession is so strong that the person suffering from Anorexia does not think about anything else apart from staying thin no matter if he or she is already thin. It is also known as Anorexia Nervosa. It affects women more than men.
As Anorexia is about the obsession to eat less and less and remain thin. Based on this ‘Eating Disorder’ Anorexia can be classified into 2 types:
- The Restricting type: In this type of disorder, weight loss is achieved by restricting the amount of calories by drastic dieting, even fasting and excessive physical exercises.
- The Purging type: In this, weight loss is achieved by vomiting out the food eaten, and by taking laxatives and diuretics which help in cleaning the bowels, again and again.
In case a person is suffering from Anorexia, then he or she is always stressed about the topic of ‘Food’. They often think about what to eat and what not to eat all the time. If they eat something which contains calories, then an Anorexic person will suffer form guilt and find ways of burning the calories and sort of ‘Punish’ themselves for the excessive eating. The only thing occupying the mind will be ‘losing of weight’ no matter how thin they may be. In some of the cases the Anorexic may avoid social gatherings simply to avoid eating and intermingling with friends to an extent having no time for friends and socializing and failure to enjoy certain activities.
One can be termed as an Anorexic if one displays the following symptoms:
- Feeling fat even when other people feel to the contrary.
- Always feel terrified of gaining weight.
- Lie about how much they ate or hide about their eating habits.
- Family members and friends are worried about their appearance, weight loss and eating.
- Diet aggressively and punish themselves when they feel guilty about overeating calorie rich food.
- Feel good when they diet, do strenuous exercise and purge.
- Evaluate themselves on the basis of their weight and size.
No Anorexia is certainly not about weight loss, eating food, exercising etc. but it goes deep. Such type of eating disorder is more complicated than as it appears. The less food and weight loss issues have a deeper connection with the mind. It may be the result of:
Depression, stress, personality disorder, low self confidence, loneliness, insecurity, peer pressure, ability to perform and to be in control. No amount of diet and exercise will be able to overcome these underlying ‘other’ causative’ disorders.
The major causes and risk factors of Anorexia may be
Psychological factors:Family and social pressures where one is expected to be perfect, achiever, performer, to excel may take a toll and the escapism route may be in Anorexia or Eating habits where there is an inability to express the inner turmoil. In other words, ‘Failure to address the Issue’ may result in other conditions like Anorexia.
Biological Factors:If the condition runs in the family, in the genes then one is likely to be affected. The presence of increase in level of ‘Cortisol’ in the brain which is a hormone related to stress and decrease in feel good hormone like serotonin and norepinephrine results in Anorexia.
Risk factors: A breakup, emotional disturbances like puberty, going away to school, emphasis on looks, low self esteem, strained family relations, sexual abuse, change of residence, losing a pet etc.
Some of the effects of Anorexia are:
- Severe mood swings like depression.
- Lack of energy and feeling of weakness
- Poor memory and slow thinking process
- Dry and pale skin and rough texture of nails.
- Constipation and bloating.
- Tooth decay and bleeding in gums.
- Headaches, dizziness and loss of balance.
- Spurt in growth of hair on face and body.
Since Anorexia involves both the mind and the body, a team is required to treat the condition and it is good news that Anorexia can be treated once a person admits that he or she is suffering from it. The admission itself helps a lot. Talking to someone can help a lot and seeking professional help may cure. A team of psychologist, doctors, counselors and dieticians as a team help in overcoming Anorexia. Once the disturbing issues are addressed, it helps a lot in recovering from Anorexia and leading a healthy life and efforts have to be made to stay away from places and people who create an atmosphere where one is bound to feel awkward about weight and body.
A healthy mind and healthy body is achieved by a balanced diet and nutrition.
It is very sad when someone you love is suffering from Anorexia and day by day is losing weight and spark of life along with it.
The treatment for Anorexia involves:
Gaining a healthy weight, eating more healthy food, change in the way of thinking.
Family members help a lot: They can encourage and be a role model and cultivate healthy eating habits and avoid negative comments and try not to threaten and shout and have burst of anger as this may aggravate the condition; further as it is more of an emotional problem.
An Anorexic person can help themselves better than anyone else once they admit to the condition and realize the importance of maintaining a healthy body weight and are receptive to counseling and therapy and change their eating habits.
Anorexia can strike anybody but it can happen to girls more as there is lots of pressure on them to look fit and beautiful and being ‘weighty’ is looked down upon. Many famous people who have suffered from Anorexia have spoken about it so that others can benefit from their experience.
A famous example is of Actress Jane Fonda.
Jane Fonda is famous as an actress, fitness expert, a model and an activist. She started suffering at the age of 12 and after a long and hard struggle over a period of 30 years finally overcame the disease. Her friend, famous actress Sally Field also suffered from Anorexia at the age of 20 for 3 years and finally overcame it.
Victoria Beckham [Spice girl] wife of footballer David Beckham, struggled to overcome Anorexia and won the fight against it.
Unfortunately, there are some who lost to Anorexia like Karen Carpenter who took a water diet and continued dieting and died at the age of 32.
Anorexia is a fatal disease with serious consequences but with many celebrities coming out and speaking about the surrounding myths, Anorexia is now easier to overcome.