Anorexia nervosa is a “psychiatric eating disorder” where people starve themselves. It is usually composed of a fear of gaining weight and an obsession about thinness. Even when anorexics have lost immense amount of weight, they are never convinced to the fact that they are underweight and they continue dieting, taking laxatives, purging and not eating. What they overlook is the immense torture they put upon themselves both physically and mentally.
Among the people who get affected, 90% of them are female, while most are adolescent females. Statistics show that 1-5% of all adolescents and young women are diagnosed with it. This disorder is rare among children below 10 years old and women above 40 years old. It is more prevalent in western society than it is in non-western society, probably due to the idealization of thinness in the western culture.
This is not just an eating disorder, but a complex condition involving neurobiological, psychological, and sociological components; in worst case scenarios, all these can sum up to cause death too. Approximately 10% diagnosed with the disorder eventually die due to causes related to morality rate of the disorder. Among other psychiatric eating disorders, this particular disorder has claimed the highest number of deaths.
Origin of the term “anorexia nervosa”
The term “anorexia” is of Greek origin, which simply means lack of desire to eat. Nervosa on the other hand contributes to the nervous psychological characteristics of the eating disorder. The actually meaning of the word does not however perfectly resemble the disorder, people suffering from it do not necessarily have a loss of appetite; they are rather scared of gaining weight. Anorexia nervosa is often shortened to anorexia. Technically, this is incorrect, as “anorexia” itself means lack of desire to eat, and has a different meaning altogether; however, in this website the term “anorexia” will be used to define “anorexia nervosa” as a whole.
How is excessive dieting so dangerous?
Lets leave the psychological torture of anorexia apart; what makes excessive dieting so dangerous?
Anorexics do not go for a “general” routine diet. Instead, they restrict their calories grossly or literally stop eating. You might be guessing this is an easy way to lose fat quickly; if you are, you are wrong.
If the human body is suddenly deprived of sufficient nutrients, the immediate effect falls on the muscles, not fat. This means, if someone suddenly stops having lunch and dinner regularly, the person will lose his/her muscles before the person loses his/her fat. Losing muscles indirectly means losing energy, strength and a lot of other complications.