|Anorexia is an eating disorder that affects women and men. Anorexics are different from bulimics in that an anorexic starves herself and a bulimic eats and purges. Anorexia typically strikes young women of high-school or college age. The average age for the onset of anorexia is 14. However, women and men of any age can develop anorexia. This disorder rarely affects men, but it is affecting them more with the changes in society and the pressures put upon them.
Anorexia claims the life of 1 out of 10 anorexics. Aside from death by starvation, dehydration, or suicide, most anorexics if left unchecked will suffer life-long illnesses and physical problems brought on by the starvation.
Anorexia is characterized by certain symptoms. While many people may experience one or two of these symptoms on occasion and have no psychological problems at all, the existence of three or more of these symptoms warrants evaluation by a specialist trained to deal with eating disorders:
- Significant weight loss
- Obsession about weight loss
- Fear of becoming overweight even when very thin
- Excessive dieting and exercise
- Obsessive calorie counting
- Dry skin
- Fine downy hair on the face and arms
- Cessation of menstrual periods
- Suppression of sexual desire
- Hands and feet always cold
- Chronic insomnia
- Frequent illnesses
- Physical problems including:
- heart palpitations
- tooth decay (lack of minerals and calcium)
- bone density loss (lack of minerals and calcium)
there are no absolutes when it comes to anorexia. Sufferers can be male or female. They can be 12-years old or 42-years old. They can be wealthy or dirt poor. They can be educated or illiterate. Anorexia knows nothing about the victim so the guidelines are merely that--guidelines. They are a rule of thumb but not an absolute. If you suspect you have anorexia or if you suspect a loved one has anorexia, getting a professional opinion from a doctor trained to deal with eating disorders will do no harm. So, make an appointment, discuss your concerns, and let the doctor help you sort out the facts.
Treatment of anorexia involves psychotherapy to resolve the conflicts and stresses that brought on the illness. The prescription of antidepressants is common to help the patient until the conflicts are resolved.
If you suspect that you or someone you know is suffering from anorexia, contact your physician to locate a therapist or clinic that specializes in dealing with eating disorders.
You should be aware that nagging an anorexic to "just eat something" or trying to cajole or bully them into eating will make matters worse. Most anorexics will lie, cry, and use any other tactic they can think of to avoid relinquishing the control they have over their weight.