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Anorexia Nervosa is a devastating illness with a 15% mortality rate. The sufferers literally starve themselves to death. To be thin at all costs is their goal. If they are fortunate enough to survive anorexia, they usually are plagued with multiple health problems for the rest of their life.

The typical Anorexic is usually a highly intelligent and extremely sensitive person. According to the experts, these individuals suffer from low self-esteem, perfectionism and have problems coping with sexuality issues. They often feel they are somehow flawed inside and are unable to fix it. To hide this flaw from others, they feel they must be perfect on the outside. When they discover that this in not achievable, the need for control and to over some aspect of thier life becomes overwhelming. The eating disorder starts to emerge. At least they can control what goes into their mouth.

A ritualistic behavior around food starts to develop. Most sufferers develop an extreme aversion to fat. They usually will not eat anything with even a trace of fat. Some other common symptoms relating to food are as follows:

-No eating after a specific time of day
-Lying about what they have eaten
-Hiding food they did not eat
-Excessive exercise after eating
-Withdrawal from social situations involving food

There is no one thing that triggers Anorexia. Some of the contributing factors are family dynamics, sexual abuse, peer pressure and finally the media. With the current message that “thinness relates directly to success”, it is no wonder that a huge importance is placed on being thin.

There is no organ system that remains untouched by Anorexia. The illness weakens the heart, lowers bone density, causes amenorrhea (loss of menstrual periods) and various other side effects. A lot of times, these side effects are irreversible. If the illness is treated early enough, many of the severe side effects can be avoided altogether. Strict monitoring has to be done during and after recovery to ensure the most effective treatment is being used.

Anorexia is one of the most frustrating illnesses to treat. A huge power struggle goes on between the sufferer and the illness. It takes time, patience and compassion to help someone through an eating disorder. Help is out there, but you need to ask for it.