Anorexia nervosa, more commonly known as anorexia, is an eating disorder that manifests itself through an intense fear of gaining weight and body fat, and results in behaviours such as extreme dieting, fasting and excessive exercising to burn calories. There are many myths surrounding anorexia, but below you will find basic answers to some commonly asked questions about this disorder.
What Causes Anorexia?There is no single known cause of anorexia, though researchers are busy investigating if genetics is a contributing factor. It is known that anorexia is often linked to low self-esteem, feelings of helplessness and value that is placed upon thinness. Though it is manifested in food issues and eating behaviours, and thus described as an eating disorder, anorexia is a mental health issue as well.
What are the Signs/Symptoms of Anorexia?Anorexia is often deduced due to an individual’s behaviours regarding food, weight and eating. Some of the common warning signs of anorexia include counting calories, skipping meals, pushing food around a plate rather than eating it, hiding food (in a napkin, under a plate, etc.) to avoid eating it, lying about eating, avoiding social events which require eating or involve food, eating only a limited number or type of food, exercising excessively, dramatic weight loss, excessive attention being paid to weight, image and fasting. As a result of fasting or severe dieting many anorexics also have little energy, sleep often, become sick often and weigh themselves regularly in order to monitor further weight loss or weight gain.
Who Is Affected By Anorexia?Like most eating disorders, anorexia is usually diagnosed in women though there are men who suffer from anorexia as well. Approximately 90% of anorexia diagnoses across the world are in women. Like with gender, anorexia is also present across all races, religions and income levels though the stereotypical “face” of anorexia is often described as young, female, Caucasian and middle class.
In addition to those who suffer from anorexia, those close to anorexics are also affected by the disorder. Family and friends who must watch an anorexic harm themselves often feel frustrated, angry, sad and lonely but remain unable to directly help their loved ones. Anorexia thus touches entire families and communities, and those affected by another’s anorexia may desire counselling and support as well.