Unfortunately, many people do not understand what anorexia nervosa is and how serious it can be. It is an eating disorder that can be life threatening and is seen in individuals who have a fear of gaining weight. These individuals often weigh more than 15% less than what they should weigh and do so by eating very little. Some anorexics will eat and then vomit to eliminate what they have eaten.
Anorexic individuals usually have low self-esteem, are depressed and have a very distorted image of their bodies. In other words, no matter how thin they are, in their minds they are fat. The disease usually begins either before or just after puberty. Young girls seem to be the ones who suffer the most from this illness, but it can and increasingly is affecting both sexes of all ages. It is believed that younger women suffer the most because society dictates that “thin is in,” and the message can be found everywhere including magazines, movies, television, etc. They will do anything to be thin, and have no idea of the consequences involved when anorexia sets in.
The effects of anorexia are devastating and include damage to the heart and brain due to lack of nutrients. The longer the disease goes on, the more likely that a person’s pulse rate and blood pressure will drop dramatically causing irregular heart rhythms or heart failure. The bones lacking the proper nutrients tend to become brittle and often break, and many people reach a point where they actually starve to death. Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate among psychiatric illnesses with a six percent death rate among its victims.