Anorexia is a mental health disorder. The main symptoms include preoccupation with dieting and thinness that leads to excessive weight loss; nevertheless, it is vital to remember that these are merely the symptoms. Anorexia and other eating disorders are rarely actually about food. More often they are about fearing abandonment, low self esteem, poor family relationships and an inability to effectively get basic needs met.. One percent of teenage girls in the U.S. develop anorexia and up to 10 percent may die as a result.
Anorexia Warning Signs:
losing a significant amount of weight (20% or more of your body weight in a month)
continuing to diet (although thin)
believing you are fat, even after losing weight
fearing weight gain
losing monthly menstrual periods
preoccupation with food, calories, nutrition and/or cooking
binging and purging
abuse of laxatives or diuretics
gaunt, hollow facial features
sharply protruding bones
cold and blue hands and feet
permanent bone loss: susceptibility to stress fractures and osteoporosis
mood changes: irritability, depression, suicidal tendencies
sensitivity to cold
abnormally low heart rate and blood pressure
Recovery from anorexia is possible, but difficult. The first concern must always be with ensuring the patient is medically stable and has a safe environment (usually inpatient) in which to begin recovery.
Anorexia is another disorder that is NOT appropriate for online counseling. Loved ones of persons with anorexia may find online support rooms or discussion boards helpful, and persons with anorexia may find professional consultation and education helpful in finding the best treatment resources.
For professionals working with patients with eating disorders, 12 hours of continuing education credits are available.