Anorexia nervosa is a serious medical disorder that is statistically most prevalent in the adolescent teenage years of young women. It is estimated that 7% of the population suffers from eating disorders and if left untreated over 20% of them will die from it. Anorexia takes the lives of children everyday in this world and there are things you can do as a parent to identify anorexic behaviors and intervene to protect your children.
Anorexia nervosa is a condition where one becomes obsessed with losing weight and practices self-starvation in an attempt to achieve significant weight loss or to maintain extremely unhealthy level of body weight. Anorexics are terrified of gaining weight, and often believe they are very fat even though they are already very thin.
Anorexia is not just a condition related to food and eating, but takes its roots from a deeper psychological level. Food and eating becomes a destructive tool that one uses to deal and cope with other emotional problems. Anorexics will often reach out to other anorexics on the internet in “pro-ana” sites whereby they encourage each other to continue their weight loss journey. Pro-ana sites argue that anorexia is a lifestyle choice and not an actual disorder, and offer dysfunctional support to other victims of the disease. The risk to our youth from eating disorders is significant and there are things you can do as a parent to intervene:
WATCH FOR WARNING SIGNS
Excessive weight loss: A person suffering from anorexia is skinny and may end up losing more that 15% of their ideal body.
Diet restrictions: a person with anorexia continues to restrict foods and diet even when they are not overweight.
Food Obsession: an excessive preoccupation with food, calories, nutrition, or cooking methods is also a sign of anorexic behavior.
Distorted body image: complaints of feeling bloated, nauseated, or fat even when the person is thin or underweight, and also denying feelings of hunger.
Excessive exercising: Anorexia may cause a person to complain about feeling bloated or nauseated even when she eats normal—or less than normal—amounts of food.
Cold Sensitivity: A person suffering from anorexia may feel cold even though the temperature is normal or only slightly cool.
Fatigue: a person suffering with anorexia will often show signs of fatigue and inability to concentrate on most tasks (except food and related weight topics).
Lack of social interaction: living with anorexia nervosa can become complicated when trying to hide it in social settings involving food and eating. Avoidance of social activities that include food is a common sign.
Depressed immunity: a person suffering with anorexia may have a weakened immune system and have frequent colds, illnesses and a general feeling of not feeling well.
Depression: anorexics will often exhibit signs of depression, anxiety, guilt and sadness while struggling with their disorder.
Physical changes: a person with anorexia over time may exhibit tell-tall physical characteristics such as; downy hair growth on the face, loss of menstruation cycles, dry nails, dry hair, constipation, headaches and possible hair loss.
Internet behaviors: a person with anorexia may be visiting pro-anorexic sites on the internet that offers encouragement and support of this disorder. Check your computers browser cache to review the history of websites it has visited.
If you suspect that one of your family members is suffering from anorexia nervosa it is important to take action now to arm yourself with information about the disorder and steps you can work towards to provide help and assistance. For more information on the types of treatment methods available you can visit: http://www.anorexiabulimiahelp.com/eating-disorders-treatment.htm
S.A. Smith is a freelance writer, correspondent, and contributing editor of the Anorexia Bulimia Help resource site and can be reached at http://www.anorexiabulimiahelp.com