Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that arises from a person’s intense fear of being overweight. There are many ways that anorexic people control their weight, including starvation, obsessive exercising, purging, and taking diuretics. Although most anorexics have a low – usually unhealthily so – body weight, they often have a distorted self-image. A large majority of anorexics are female, but more and more males are affected each year.
This eating disorder is one of the most dangerous psychiatric disorders. It affects many people and has a variety of serious consequences. Hair can become brittle and fall out; skin can easily bruise; the immune system can weaken; the menstrual cycle can be disrupted; and nerves can deteriorate, causing severe pain during simple movement. There are dozens of other related symptoms that can occur as well. Anorexia can also have devastating effects on the heart and cardiovascular system, and can cause electrolyte imbalances. Cardiac arrest and even death can occur.
The harm to physical health is very serious, but anorexia can also cause behavioral problems including withdrawal from friends and activities, self-harming, and suicidal thoughts. The problem can extend into every part of the person’s life. If you are or someone you know is anorexic, it is important that you seek professional help immediately.