The question asked, is, what is anorexia exactly? For those that do not know, it is known as an eating disorder primarily affecting young women. Once thought to affect primarily young, rich and beautiful women it is now known that the illness also afflicts teenage girls and even men from families of the middle-class.
An anorexic girl doesn't have to be pretty as suggested in Dr. Bruch's "The Golden Cage." In fact, many anorexic women describe themselves as being plain. One trait that does seem to occur with anorexia is an attitude of perfectionism. Some of these girls are excellent students exceeding the expectations placed upon them at school.
The anorexic is preoccupied daily with thoughts of their body's image. They obsess over what they eat, weighing proportions of food at times and being very choosey about what to eat. They may think they are fat or overweight when in fact they are extremely thin. Their self-esteem can be determined by their body weight and shape. One girl described her eating disorder as a way to feel in control of her life while other people appeared to her as a chaotic mess.
A stay in the hospital is not uncommon. In a documentary watched, one anorexic woman had a very difficult time while hospitalized when faced with eating a plate full of healthy vegetables. She needed to eat in order to become discharged from the hospital. Eating is a very upsetting, leading to lots of crying, especially if the eating is needed to become discharged from a hospital. Several girls spent 15 weeks confined in the hospital without losing a pound.
The word Anorexia Nervosa comes from Latin and means a nervous inability to eat; however, anorexics have been reported to think about food 75-85% of the time during the day, as would anyone starving themselves would do. There are two types of this mental disorder defined: 1) Those that restrict food intake, they exercise and may use laxatives and enemas. The other type of anorexic is the binge-eating type that also purges their food and may also use laxatives and enemas. One girl with the disorder described her need to use laxatives (25 of them) as a way to free her body from all food inside of it, which made her feel uneasy with herself.
Women will eventually have a lack of menstruation as a result of the anorexia. Other conditions will develop such as osteoporosis or osteopenia (bone degradation), brittle hair and nails, dry and yellowish skin, growth of fine hair all over the body (lanugo), mild anemia and muscle wasting and weakness, severe constipation from a lack of fiber in the diet, low blood pressure, slowed breathing and pulse, damage to the structure and function of the heart, brain damage, multi-organ failure, drop in internal body temperature, feelings of cold at all times, lethargy, sluggishness, or feeling tired all the time and infertility.
What is anorexia? Well, it is dangerous. Death from anorexia nervosa is estimated to occur at a rate of 0.56 percent per year. Causes of death are often due to heart attack and electrolyte disorders from the lack of proper nutrition. To see pictures of the anorexic, click here.[2CreateABody] › [Dieting] › Anorexia Nervosa