Health and information – Before knowing the health risks of anorexia, it is better if we first describe what anorexia is, the causes of anorexia, risk factors for anorexia, and symptoms of anorexia. For that, let us consider the following information.
Anorexia nervosa is a psychiatric disorder in which the sufferer has an obsession to have a thin body and is very afraid of having a fat body or looking fat.
Even though the body is already thin, sufferers always think that their body is still not thin or fat. Generally, anorexia nervosa affects women more than men. Apart from anorexia nervosa, there is another eating disorder, namely bulimia.
Although both are eating disorders, these two mental disorders have differences. The difference between anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa can be seen from body weight and the resulting behavior.
Bulimic psychiatric disorders generally have a normal body weight because bulimic sufferers have an obsession with overeating and then vomiting, while anorexics generally weigh below average and have an obsession with being thin.
Anorexia can be very dangerous because it will cause malnutrition in the sufferer’s body, if no help is given.
What are the causes of anorexia?
The cause of anorexia is still unclear. Like other diseases, anorexia can also be a disease that involves biological, psychological and environmental factors.
A. Biological factors
Although it is not known exactly which genes cause anorexia, it is possible that genetic changes put a person at a higher risk of developing anorexia.
Some people have a genetic predisposition to have a perfectionist, sensitive, and persistent temperament. These things have to do with anorexia.
B. Psychological factors
Anorexic sufferers are obsessed with slim bodies so they are willing to go on a strict diet, even starvation. In addition, he may have such a strong urge to achieve his ideal body (perfectionist) so that he always feels that he is never thin.
C. Environmental factor
Peer pressure makes a person try desperately to have a thin body and suffer from anorexia. The formation of ideal body perceptions by the media is also one of the causes of anorexia.
What are the risk factors for anorexia?
Here are some factors that can increase the risk of anorexia:
- Women (eating disorders are more common in women)
- High body mass index as a child
- Heredity and genetics
- Have a chemical disorder in the brain
- Social pressure to be thin
- Difficulty expressing yourself
- Feeling mocked for your weight or size
- History of sexual abuse
- Perfectionists with unrealistic standards
- Dissatisfaction with one’s own body
- Lack of social and family support
- Depression, anxiety, stress, and anger
- Babies are born prematurely
What are the common symptoms of anorexia nervosa?
The symptoms of anorexia that appear are usually related to the starvation condition she is experiencing. This unhealthy diet will result in physical and mental disorders. Here are some of the characteristics of anorexia that you can recognize:
A. Physical symptoms
- Drastic weight loss in a very short time
- Looks thin
- Dizziness or fainting
- Her finger looks bluish
- Thin hair and loss
- Lots of fine hair growing all over the body
- No longer having menstruation
- Constipation and stomach pain
- The skin looks dry and yellowish
- Can not stand the cold
- The teeth and joints in the body are more prominent
- Swollen hands and feet
B. Emotional symptoms
- Diet or excessive fasting
- Excessive exercise
- Always trying to get food out of the body, from vomiting food to consuming excessive laxatives
- Often don’t want to eat
- Don’t want to eat in front of other people
- Start lying about how often you eat
- Divert attention from food by cooking food but direct it to other people.
- Often denies that he is hungry
- Often thinks of himself as fat, when in fact he is not
- Easy to get angry
- Don’t want to hang out with other people
Is it true that the health risks of anorexia have a high risk of death?
A study reported in the Archives of General Psychiatry found an association between eating disorders and high mortality rates, especially for those with anorexia nervosa.
Jon Arcelus, Ph.D., of Leicester General Hospital in England, analyzed 36 studies on food disorders that cause death. The result, almost all causes are anorexia nervosa.
The study involved 17,272 patients with food disorders. The result, as many as 755 patients experienced mortality faster and higher.
Researchers reveal that the death rate from eating disorders, especially anorexia, is higher than some other mental disorders, such as schizophrenia and depression.
Although the main cause of death is a complication of health problems related to malnutrition due to hunger, suicide is the most common cause.
A study found the following important points:
- As many as 20-42 percent of people with anorexia nervosa report suicidal thoughts.
- At least 23 percent of adults with a lifetime diagnosis of anorexia nervosa report suicidal thoughts. This percentage is greater when compared to the general adult population who report suicidal thoughts only in the 5-15 percent range.
In addition, about two out of three deaths in patients with anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa and overeating disorder are caused by suicide.
So it can be concluded that suicide is an important thing to pay attention to, not only in people with anorexia nervosa, but also in other eating disorders.
Also Read: Exercise and mental health
That’s what we can say about the health risks of anorexia. Hopefully this article can be useful for us and our families. Do a healthy lifestyle such as exercising regularly and eating nutritious foods so that we avoid various kinds of health risks of anorexia and other mental health risks.
If you or someone you know has an eating disorder or has thoughts about actions that could be life threatening, it is important to seek professional help.