Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that causes people to not consume the right amount of calories every day. They restrict the amount of calories they consume to achieve a better self-describing body image. There is anxiety about gaining weight with those suffering from anorexia and these fears translate into their eating habits. It kills more than 1000 women in the United States, but even men can be affected by this disorder that destroys the human body from the inside out.
Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder are biopsychosocial diseases, not fads, phases, or lifestyle choices. True, people fighting anorexia may deny their hunger, not eating or drinking enough, and experiencing an intense fear of gaining weight, says Kronengold. People with anorexia can also overeat, exercise excessively, and purge themselves by vomiting or taking laxatives, says Kronengold. A person with anorexia is more likely to come from a family with a history of certain health problems.
When it comes to fully understanding anorexia nervosa, there are many facts and misconceptions about this eating disorder. A doctor can diagnose someone with “atypical anorexia” or “subclinical anorexia” when there are significant symptoms of anorexia present, but the person is not (or at least not yet) underweight, according to NEDA. Despite the millions of people suffering from an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa at any given time, hardly any money is spent on research in this area. Events such as physical illness, child bullying and other life stressors, or conditions such as major depression, anxiety, social phobia, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, can also increase the risk of developing anorexia, Mehler explains.
Other health problems associated with anorexia that can occur over time include the growth of lanugo or fine, soft hair all over the body, as well as low blood pressure, infertility and brain damage, says the NIMH. Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that many people have heard of but don't fully understand. Although anorexia is much more common in women, men account for about 10% of people suffering from the disease. Mehler adds: “Anorexia is a biopsychosocial disease, meaning that all genetic, biological, environmental and social elements play an important role.
Although research is being done on anorexia nervosa, there is a lot you can learn about this eating disorder to understand how to get help for yourself or how to help a loved one.