Anorexia is a mental illness. Patients with anorexia can not eat out of fear of becoming fat. The disease is most common in young girls and usually developed in girls between 14 and 18 years old. Often, these girls have a distorted self-image, they find themselves fat even though they have a healthy weight. When the anorexia gets worse, they will be underweight which brings all kinds of negative health effects. The majority of the anorexic patients are girls, approximately 10% are boys.
Anorexia can be alternated with periods of bulimia. Anorexics are continuously counting calories. Many anorexics exercise excessively to burn the calories. Also, by vomiting they prevent that the calories are absorbed by the body. At the beginning of this disease the weight loss can often be hidden by wearing loose clothing. Often anorexics are initially encouraged by the people around them, for example because they receive many compliments about their weight loss.
There is no clear cause of anorexia. Studies indicate that it is mainly hereditary determined whether they will or not get anorexic. Besides heredity, the living environment plays a role. Anorexia is often fueled only by conditions in the life of the patient. Thus, bullying, divorce of parents or a difficult home situation trigger this disease.
In contrary to what many people think anorexia is not just about calories. A large part has to do with control. Anorexia patients have control over their diet and their bodies. Thus they get the feeling that at least one part of their life is in their control. Ironically, this disease will make anorexics absolutely lose control instead of getting it.
People with anorexia often lose touch with the outside world and become more and more turned in themselves. Social occasions are often occasions where food is a subject. To avoid eating anorexics also avoid these social occasions. They usually lose a lot of friends and they cause a lot of problems within their family.
Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of all mental diseases. The vast majority of these deaths is due to suicide. Also, the absence of menstruation and infertility are common consequences of anorexia. Due to the low number of calories that patients ingest the muscle mass of the body decomposed. The body will "eat" itself to compensate for the lack of nutrients. This leads to organ failure and ultimately heart failure with death.
People with anorexia will probably never completely heal from this disease. Their lives will be filled with thoughts about eating and not eating. Yet there are plenty of treatments for anorexic patients which can significantly improve their lives. Treatment usually consists of therapy in which the self-confidence is improved and more realistic.
In very severe cases the patients are included in clinics where they are eating together and supervised to ensure that they are not vomiting and exercising excessive. However, the fear to gain weight remains high and the battle with food will never end for most anorexics.
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