Watch out for anorexia

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Look out for these telltale signs of anorexia. 

Most of us struggle to like what we see in the mirror, but some struggle more than others and it may lead to eating disorders. 

Anorexia is a psychological and possibly life-threatening eating disorder. It's defined by an extremely low body weight relative to stature, extreme and needless weight loss, illogical fear of weight gain, and a distorted perception of self-image and body. Patients with this disorder have an unhealthy fixation with a thin figure, and may manifest abnormal eating patterns, self-starvation, and a lack of appetite. 

There are signs to look out for if you suspect someone is suffering from anorexia. 

Physical symptoms

  • Extreme loss of weight in the absence of illnesses.
  • Abnormal levels of activity, including excessive exercising.
  • Sleeplessness. 
  • Slow pulse and low blood pressure, which can cause fainting.
  • Low body temperature. The person feels cold all the time, even in hot weather.
  • A layer of fine downy hair grows all over the body.
  • Cessation of normal menstruation.
  • Low blood potassium levels, which usually indicate the use of laxatives to purge food.

Psychological symptoms

  • An abnormal drive to lose weight, even if the person is not overweight.
  • History of psychological disturbance and conflict with one or both parents.
  • A refusal to acknowledge that there's a problem.
  • Distortion of body image. People with anorexia see themselves as grossly obese, even when their ribs are sticking out.
  • Denial of femininity in female sufferers.
  • An urge to overachieve marked by a tendency to self-criticise. 
  • Constant preoccupation with food, while they're starving to death. They often cook big meals for the family.
  • Patients often hide food, refuse treatment, flush tablets down the toilet, and do everything to outwit those who are trying to help them overcome their illness.

Good to know

  • Anorexia is generally common in girls, teenagers and young women, but it can also occur in older women, and even in men.
  • Anxiety and depression often occur in patients with anorexia. 
  • Patients who may have been overweight as children may turn to anorexia as a way of controlling their weight. 


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