Anorexia

Richard Hernandez

Definition

a lack or loss of appetite for food


Symptoms



  • Dieting despite being thin – Following a severely restricted diet. Eating only certain low-calorie foods. Banning “bad” foods such as carbohydrates and fats.
  • Obsession with calories, fat grams, and nutrition – Reading food labels, measuring and weighing portions, keeping a food diary, reading diet books.
  • Pretending to eat or lying about eating – Hiding, playing with, or throwing away food to avoid eating. Making excuses to get out of meals (“I had a huge lunch” or “My stomach isn’t feeling good.”).
  • Preoccupation with food – Constantly thinking about food. Cooking for others, collecting recipes, reading food magazines, or making meal plans while eating very little.
  • Strange or secretive food rituals – Refusing to eat around others or in public places. Eating in rigid, ritualistic ways (e.g. cutting food “just so”, chewing food and spitting it out, using a specific plate).
  • Dramatic weight loss – Rapid, drastic weight loss with no medical cause.
  • Feeling fat, despite being underweight – You may feel overweight in general or just “too fat” in certain places such as the stomach, hips, or thighs.
  • Fixation on body image – Obsessed with weight, body shape, or clothing size. Frequent weigh-ins and concern over tiny fluctuations in weight.
  • Harshly critical of appearance – Spending a lot of time in front of the mirror checking for flaws. There’s always something to criticize. You’re never thin enough.
  • Denial that you’re too thin – You may deny that your low body weight is a problem, while trying to conceal it (drinking a lot of water before being weighed, wearing baggy or oversized clothes).
  • Dangers



    • Starvation can damage vital organs such as the brain and heart
    • To protect itself, the body shifts into "slow gear"
      • Monthly menstrual periods stop
      • Breathing, pulse, and blood pressure rates drop
      • Thyroid function slows
    • Nails and hair become brittle
    • Skin gets dry, yellows, and becomes covered with soft hair called lanugo
    • Excessive thirst and urination may occur
    • Dehydration contributes to constipation
    • Reduced body fat leads to lowered body temperatures and an inability to withstand cold weather
    • Mild anemia, swollen joints, reduced muscle mass, and light-headedness also commonly occur in anorexic individuals

    If the disorder becomes severe, patients may lose calcium from their bones, making them brittle and prone to breakage. They also may experience irregular heart rhythms and heart failure.

    In some patients, the brain shrinks, causing personality changes. Fortunately, this condition can be reversed when normal weight is re-established.

    Scientists have found that many patients with anorexia also suffer from other psychiatric illnesses. While the majority have co-occurring clinical depression, others suffer fromanxiety, personality or substance-abuse disorders, and many are at risk for suicide.

    Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), an illness characterized by repetitive thoughts and behaviors, can also accompany anorexia. Individuals with anorexia are typically compliant in personality but may have sudden outbursts of hostility and anger or become socially withdrawn.

    2 ways to find help

    Go to the hospital


    go to a treatment center