The Physical Effects of Anorexia

Anorexia is an eating disorder that is characterized by minimal (if any) intake of food. There are three main components to the disorder: intense fear of weight gain, severe body image issues and refusal to maintain body weight. The thoughts of an anorexic person are overtaken by their fears of gaining weight; therefore, they eat very little and their entire day is consumed with anxiety over dieting and body image.

Anorexia is caused by deep-seated depression, anxiety and insecurities. These mental states worsen the more sick a person becomes because their body is not receiving the nutrients it needs and therefore goes into survival mode.

The body of an anorexic person begins to deteriorate almost immediately, starting on the inside. An individual’s weight will start to shed and, depending on how sick a person is, they can reach a skeletal state where their skin is almost translucent and they are not much more than skin and bone. The body deteriorates like this because it does not receive the nutrients it needs to function. The bones lose density and muscles shrink and become weak; the body becomes dehydrated, which can lead to kidney failure; the skin and hair is dry and brittle and hair loss is common; and individuals can experience dizziness, fainting and overall weakened condition.


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Anorexia can also cause severe chronic illness, such as heart failure and disease, lung failure, inflammation of organs, tooth decay, high cholesterol and blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallbladder disease, ulcers and pancreatitis.

People who suffer from anorexia may also have other eating disorders, such as binge-eating and purging (bulimia) and excessive exercising. These can all be habits of people with body dysmorphia, which is a driving mental force behind eating disorders.

It’s easier to physically notice when a person has anorexia as compared to bulimic, because people with anorexia are not taking in food or calories. Therefore, you’ll notice them shedding weight, losing energy quickly and functioning at a lower mental level. If you or someone you love is living with anorexia, consult a doctor, counsellor or nutritionist for specialized treatment options.

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