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Anorexia Nervosa (loss of appetite) is not a new disease and has been medically recorded as far back as 1689. This confounding emotional disorder is characterized by an obsession with losing weight to the point of starvation. The nutritional deficit created by not eating enough food causes endocrine system (system of small organs that release hormones) changes in the body that then distort moods and behaviors.


Symptoms of Anorexia and Anorexic Behavior

Some of the clinical symptoms of anorexia nervosa are: a preoccupation with food, depression, constipation, hair loss, anxiety, insomnia, very dry skin, irritability, and selfishness. A person experiencing anorexia will continually strive to lower their body weight beyond normal ranges for age, sex and build. They will be overly concerned with or have a distorted body image; also may exercise excessively and engage in purging behaviors like self induced vomiting, using laxatives and diuretics and fasting. Some may cease eating altogether and this disease can be fatal if untreated.


What Causes Anorexia?

Statistics show that anorexia is most prevalent among teen age girls and young women in their twenties but affects only about 5% of men (sometimes referred to as manorexia in males ). What causes anorexia? Well no one knows for sure but certain traits seem to commonly recur in sufferers. For example a desire for mastery over ones body and destiny, feelings of being unprepared for day to day life, experiencing family conflicts, having a very compliant nature, being self critical or self loathing, and/or has one or more overly protective parent. This is why the disease is so prominent with young girls who haven’t fully developed a sense of who they are yet and are under both parental and peer group pressures often opposing each other.


Support and Care for persons with Anorexia

Much patience, sensitivity, respect and understanding are needed by those living with an anorexia sufferer. Tremendous shame will often lead to the disease being painfully hidden. Also needed, and sooner than later, is professional help. Get a medical doctor on board your recovery team with lots of support from friends, family and the community. This is a problem that will have to be dealt with psychologically as well as physically. If you have any symptoms of anorexia or have any questions about eating disorders, seek medical help by talking to a mental health provider or your own doctor. This disease can be cured and treatment alternatives are easily available.


For more information about Anorexia Nervosa and other eating disorders, visit the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Eating Disorders.