Anorexia is the most high profile of the eating disorders and the one you are likely to have heard the most about. It’s characterised by a refusal to maintain a healthy weight. Sufferers tend to believe that they are grossly overweight even if they can be shown objective evidence by way of scales and charts, to the contrary.
Anorexia is the most fatal of all mental health disorders, with up to ten percent of sufferers dying either as a result of suicide, or more commonly due to complicating factors arising from low weight – such as organ failure or heart attack.
The key characteristics of anorexia:
One of the key indicators of anorexia is low weight. Anorexics are usually keenly aware of the minimum weight for their height and will work very hard to keep below this weight.
Fear of weight gain:
Whilst they might be severely underweight, anorexics tend to be terrified of gaining weight, even if this won’t bring them close to the normal weight category for their height and age.
Undue influence of weight or shape on self-evaluation:
Even if they’re painfully thin, many anorexics will think they’re too fat. Even if presented with the hard facts about their weight and how this compares to the ideal weight for their height and their age and their sex. They’re unlikely to accept that their weight is a problem and they’re usually determined to lose yet more weight, even if it puts their health at real risk. Anorexics tend to use their weight and shape as a way of evaluating themselves. They consider being fat to be bad and although they are not fat, they think they are and will therefore tend to have very negative feelings about themselves and suffer from very low self-esteem.
Loss of menstrual periods in girls
Where weight loss is extreme girls will have very irregular periods and may even cease to have periods altogether unless they are taking the pill.
The easiest way to try and understand it is like looking in a fairground mirror that distorts your shape. Anorexics will be looking in the ‘fat mirror’ by default and have a completely distorted view of their shape.