Anorexia nervosa is a serious and potentially life-threatening mental illness. It has the highest mortality rate of all mental disorders. Anorexia nervosa, especially if left untreated, is very often chronic. Recent research has found that anorexia occurs in at least 8 people per 100,000 per year and up to 3% of girls and young women may have this disorder. Although we see more teenage girls and young women receiving treatment, eating disorders affects both males and females at any age. Recent reports cite an increase in the number of pre-teen girls and boys, men and middle-aged women who have experienced symptoms.
Characteristics of anorexia nervosa
Anorexia nervosa is a psychiatric diagnosis characterized by low body weight, body image distortion, and an obsessive fear of gaining weight. Individuals with anorexia often control body weight by voluntary starvation, purging, vomiting, excessive exercise, or other weight control measures, such as diet pills or diuretics.
Even though people suffering from anorexia nervosa show symptoms associated with food and body, anorexia is not really about the food. The illness develops as an unhealthy means of coping with overwhelming and uncomfortable emotions. Common themes associated with anorexia include perfectionism, control, identity, unhealthy boundaries, self-worth, and trust. For men or women struggling with anorexia nervosa, self-worth often becomes tied to the ability to maintain control over their bodies and hunger.
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