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The Effect of Anorexia on Teens
1% to 5% of all female adolescents are anorexic. 40% to 60% of all high school girls diet. 80% of 13 year of girls have dieted. 40% of 9 year old girls have dieted. 20% of people with anorexia will die. Only 60% of the people will make a full recovery, and another 20% will make a partial recovery but will relapse. The final 20% will remain dangerously underweight and will be seen in hospitals frequently. 80% of those who get treatment will not get enough of it. (Anorexia Statistics)
As a parent, friend, counselor, or other figure in a child or teen’s life, you need to be aware of the signs of anorexia. One of the most noticeable signs of anorexia is an obsession with food. People will begin counting calories, or they may be consumed by the fat content and what they are putting into their body. Many victims make lists of what foods they can and can’t have. For example, they may only allow themselves diet coke or water. When some people “splurge”, they often feel guilty or bad about themselves. For instance they may say “I am so weak, I need to do this.” A lot of times they will punish themselves by fasting for longer periods of time. Most people with this disorder will give excuses as to why they are not eating or are eating a small amount. Some of the more common excuses are “I’m not hungry” or “I don’t feel well.”Sometime when people don’t eat for long periods of time, they do not feel hunger anymore, there isn’t even a dull ache, and they just don’t need it because their body adjusts.
Weight loss is another indicator of anorexia. Many anorexics do not lose a lot of weight; however, it can happen and sudden weight loss should draw your concern. It is common for anorexics to wear oversized, baggy clothing in order to hide how they really look. Another key sign for anorexics is a distorted body image, when a teen doesn’t see their body for how it really is. It is common among victims to believe they are overweight no matter how skinny they are, a lot of girl anorexics, dislike their stomachs, arms, and thighs. No anorexic is ever completely satisfied with how they look. (Warning Signs of Anorexia)
Another sign of anorexia is someone’s emotions. Anorexics tend to have issues communicating their feelings, thoughts, and emotions with others. They often brush off people’s concern for their health and well being. Anorexics are also more emotionally unstable. They may resort to harming themselves physically. Some anorexics become suicidal and will withdraw from friends family, begin failing in school, etc. Some other physical signs of anorexia are always being cold, hair loss, lower than normal body temperature, slow heart beat, purplish skin from bad blood circulation, shrunken breasts, and an irregular menstrual cycle or one that doesn’t occur. (Anorexia Nervosa - Symptoms)
Causes of Anorexia
One of the most relatable causes of anorexia is the media. The media only shows skinny girls, and when they show larger girls, it’s on diet commercials. The media puts a label on what is pretty and what is not. Diet ads on your computer screen with acai berries that are supposed to cleanse your system, Smart cookies that you are supposed to eat instead of meals, that have an ingredient called casein which creates a gel that makes you feel full. Sometimes, even being healthy is frowned upon by the media. Anorexia also runs in the family and is therefore genetic. Kids who grew up in abusive homes are more likely to have anorexia because what they eat is something they can control, where as they could not control the abuse. Doctors still are not completely sure what causes anorexia or why certain people get it, but they do have their theories. (N/A, Anorexia Causes)
The long term risks of anorexia can be very damaging, and even fatal. These patients can suffer from heart issues like: slower heart rate, low blood pressure, irregular rhythms and failure. Anorexics can suffer from osteoporosis, loss of muscle mass, and other joint related issues. Anorexia also causes psychological issues: it can affect these people’s lives, and it can permanently damage a person’s self-esteem, or self-image. Anorexia can cause depression in some victims and anxiety in others. (Health Risks of Anorexia: an Overview)
Most anorexics need psychotherapy, where the goal is to attempt to undo the damage, and one of the hardest things to change is the person’s body distortion. Group therapy is very common because it is cheaper as well as it allows people to have a solid support system. Hospitalization needs to occur when a patient is starving themselves to death.
Some medications can be extremely helpful in the healing process. Antidepressants are often used as a mean to speed up the recovery, and have shown promising results. Electroconvulsive therapy is never an ok means of treatment for a patient that is recovering from an eating disorder because it is often more of a shock to the body. Anorexia treatment can be very costly, around $100,000 a week and the recommended treatment time is 3 to 4 months. Most patients that get help will only get help for a portion of the recommended time because it is so costly. (Anorexia Nervosa Treatment)
Anorexia can be very harmful, and anyone that shows signs of Anorexia Nervosa, needs to speak to a doctor before it gets too serious. If you think you might have Anorexia Nervosa, you can take this quiz to assess your symptoms (follow the link: http://www.casapalmera.com/assessments/eating-disorder-self-assessment.php). This may allow you to see if you have this disorder. If you take the quiz and still have concerns, see a trusted physician. Someone you trust is easier to talk to. No matter how much you really don’t want to listen to your physician, chances are they know what they are talking about. Take their advice.
Med TV. Health Risks of Anorexia: an Overview. <http://anorexia.emedtv.com/anorexia/health-risks-of-anorexia.html>.
N/A. Anorexia Causes. <http://www.mirror-mirror.org/anorexia-causes.htm>.
—. Anorexia Statistics. 29 March 2011 <http://www.mirror-mirror.org/anorexia-statistics.htm>.
Psych Central. Anorexia Nervosa Treatment. <http://psychcentral.com/disorders/sx2t.htm>.
Rich, Maeve. Warning Signs of Anorexia. <http://www.life123.com/parenting/tweens-teens/anorexia/warning-signs-of-anorexia.shtml>.
Web MD. Anorexia Nervosa - Symptoms. <http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/anorexia-nervosa/anorexia-nervosa-symptoms>.