The Signs and Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa
Many women and men look in the mirror and wish they were thinner or in better shape. But for some, the desire to be thin becomes an obsession. Anorexia nervosa is a multifaceted eating disorder. Anorexics refuse to maintain weight, they have a tremendous fear of gaining weight and over time they develop a distorted body image. Once anorexia is developed, the anorexic loses objectivity. She does not see herself as others see her. Regardless of how thin she gets, she still thinks she’s fat – really. Additionally, she may deny she has a problem at all.
People who suffer from anorexia may feel extreme stress regarding food and social settings that center around meals. They are obsessed with dieting, keeping strict rules about food. They proclaim allergies and sensitivities to avoid eating. They may lie and say they’ve already had a meal or that their stomach has been upset so they only have something small and simple. No matter how much friends and family try to encourage the anorexic that she is thin, she will resist even to the point of isolation to avoid confrontation. She may have difficulty expressing her feelings. She may have a history of physical or sexual abuse or a family history of eating disorders. No matter how much she denies she has a problem, anorexia is a serious and potentially deadly eating disorder.
There are two types of anorexia. Some anorexics restrict food intake so that weight is gained by minimizing calories. The body loses weight because it does not gain enough fuel through nutrition to sustain activity. Restricting anorexics may engage in fad diets, fasting, and exercising to excess. Other anorexics purge through vomiting or using laxatives and diuretics. Unlike bulimics, these anorexics do not binge on food. They may eat but they purge water and nutrition from the body in order to minimize weight.
Those that suffer from anorexia are consumed with body image but their core problems are not necessarily about size. The obsession with weight is a symptom of other psychological and emotional problems such as depression, perfectionism, insecurity or lack of control. It is an attempt to control emotions, achieve happiness and boost self-esteem. Those who struggle with anorexia also struggle with perfectionism. They are overachievers – people who insist on doing things perfectly. And though they often seem to have it all together, they feel helpless, frantic and worthless.
Deciding to get help is not easy. If you think you are struggling with anorexia or if you are concerned about someone you love, seek advice from an eating disorder specialist or treatment center.