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Anorexia is a serious eating disorder, which involves constantly over worrying about your weight and trying to keep your body weight as low as possible. People with anorexia spend all of their time monitoring their calorie intake and avoid eating to try and lose weight. Many have been reported to have a distorted image of themselves and their body, which may contribute to its onset. Many often take part in excessive exercising too. When you have anorexia, the desire to lose weight becomes the most important thing in your life and you often lose the ability to see yourself as you truly are. Life becomes a relentless pursuit of thinness and going to extremes to lose weight – no matter how skinny you become, it is never enough.
Common signs of anorexia include missing meals, a loss of excessive amounts of weight in a short space of time, constantly thinking about and counting the calorie content of food, feeling panicky about eating food with other people, pretending to eat or lying about eating and obsessing about everyone else’s body size, making comparisons all the time. People with anorexia may feel moody or irritable because of the lack of food. Some girls have been known to have a sudden halt to their menstrual cycles and males have been reported to suffer from erectile dysfunction. Not eating enough has a lot of serious consequences including difficulty sleeping, dizziness, stomach pains, having difficulty concentrating, feeling weak, constipation and having brittle bones.
The exact cause of anorexia is difficult to find as it varies between each individual. One prominent theory is that anorexia develops in order for individuals to be able to take control of something in their life when other things are going on in their lives, which are out of their control. Anorexia also often develops because of feeling depressed, having low self-esteem, or even to a significant previous experience such as abuse. Others suggest that the desire to be popular can lead to anorexia, possibly because being slim is often linked with success. There is even the misconception among young people with anorexia that things will be better if they are thinner.
There may even be a genetic predisposition to anorexia, with family members of someone with anorexia being more likely to develop the disorder themselves the closer the genetic relation. It is thought that perhaps brain chemistry plays a significant role, as people with anorexia tend to have high levels of cortisol, a brain hormone related to stress, and decreased levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, which is associated with feelings of well-being (Smith and Segal, 2014).
Anorexia tends to start developing during the teenage years, with the average ages being 16 and 17. Shockingly, one fifteen-year-old girl in every 150 and one fifteen-year-old boy in every 1000 has the disorder. Furthermore, girls and women are 10 times more likely than boys and men to suffer from anorexia (Young Minds, 2014). This may be due to a social stereotype that the disorder, particularly eating disorders, relates closely to women rather than men causing many males with the disorder not to come forward.
While people with anorexia often deny having a problem, anorexia is a very serious eating disorder. If left untreated, it can lead to malnourishment and even have long-term physical problems such as infertility and osteoporosis, which is a weakening of the bones. Nevertheless, fortunately, recovery is possible. The condition is treatable, usually through a combination of psychological therapies and individually tailored advice on eating and nutrition to help you gain weight safely.
The title suggests that this disorder is nothing more than that “white girl” disease. However, it should be noted that, as stated, it could affect many individuals across many different areas. It is universal. It is not prejudiced against race, sexuality, gender or age.
If you are concerned that you or someone else may have an eating disorder, please speak to someone you trust and contact your GP as soon as possible. You can also talk to your assigned Tutor who will usually be situated in College or Senior Tutor if you feel this is necessary. Alternatively, contact numbers have been provided below.
Nightline: 0191 334 6444
Beat Helpline: 0845 634 1414.
Beat Youth Helpline: 0845 634 765