Eating disorders are becoming more prevalent as the new millennium continues. Boys, girls, men, and women feel the pressure to be thin. They are told that fat is bad and associate a little bit of a belly with obesity and being unattractive.

Images of extremely thin supermodels, actresses, singers, and dancers are portrayed as “beautiful,” distorting the idea of what beauty is and creating an unnatural association between beauty and looks.

Such images are all around: on TV, in the movies and music videos, at the theater, and on the front covers of many magazines. Anorexia is a deadly eating disorder suffered mostly by young women of all backgrounds who are surrounded by these influences.

What is Anorexia?

Anorexic individuals restrict their caloric intake. As a result, they become morbidly underweight, reaching a BMI below 18.5, a value which changes at various ages and differs between men and women. Restriction will take one of two forms which are also the two types of anorexia.

There is the person who eats but purges this food by vomiting, taking laxatives, or exercising too much. Another form of anorexia involves consuming too few calories to thrive. Bulimia is different from the first type of anorexic purely because the person suffering from bulimia is not underweight and might even be overweight.

Bulimics are also abusing their bodies and this is another potentially fatal disorder. Overeaters are also suffering from an eating disorder prompted by a form of mental illness, but they do not purge.

How to Spot Anorexia

You might suspect that a friend is suffering from an eating disorder because her attitude to and behaviors around food appear unhealthy. She doesn’t eat in front of others or her servings are absurdly small.

She will only eat certain foods which she knows are very low in calories and consumes a lot of fluids to make up for her lack of nutrition. Anorexia causes one to become anemic which will result in side effects such as fatigue, depression, hair loss, and a sallow complexion.

In spite of comments that this person is too thin, she sees a very different image in the mirror and obsesses about her weight and how she looks, possibly referring to herself as “fat.”

Reasons for Anorexia

Distorted views of body image caused by the media are often behind this dangerous disorder. A person’s job might put pressure on him or her to be thin, a good example being any career in front of a camera such as a news anchor or actress. Mental illness is a frequent cause. Drug addicts sometimes become underweight by forgetting to eat.

Treating the Disorder

With counseling, someone suffering from an eating disorder can overcome this challenging and potentially deadly behavior. Eating disorder specialists will often seek the root for anorexia or bulimia in one’s past life, uncovering traumatic events.

Anorexics seek to control their body image and frequently feel that the rest of their lives are out of control. This is the one aspect they exercise authority over even if the world is falling apart.

Severe Problems

There are times when counseling sessions are not enough to help a person overcome an eating disorder. He or she has to be admitted to hospital and then to full-time rehab. Treatment is similar to what is provided for someone being treated for substance abuse.

The individual is fed essential nutrition by IV until such time as he or she is healthy enough to take part in individual and group support sessions. A nutritionist teaches classes about what food is for and how starvation affects body, mind, and emotions.

Experts teach participants how to cook for themselves and help them learn to eat without guilt. With professional help and support at home, sufferers can return to a healthy weight and overcome their disorder.