A Killer Disease

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What is Anorexia?

Anorexia Nervosa is a psychological and possibly life-threatening eating disorder defined by an extremely low body weight relative to stature (this is called BMI [Body Mass Index] and is a function of an individual’s height and weight), extreme and needless weight loss, illogical fear of weight gain, and distorted perception of self-image and body.

Additionally, women and men who suffer with anorexia nervosa exemplify a fixation with a thin figure and abnormal eating patterns. Anorexia nervosa is interchangeable with the term anorexia, which refers to self-starvation and lack of appetite.

Major Types of Anorexia

There are two common types of anorexia, which are as follows:

  • Anorexia Nervosa Binge / Purge Type – The individual suffering from anorexia nervosa binge / purge type, will purge when he or she eats. This is typically a result of the overwhelming feelings of guilt a sufferer would experience in relation to eating; they compensate by vomiting, abusing laxatives, or excessively exercising.
  • Restrictive Anorexia Nervosa – In this form of anorexia nervosa, the individual will fiercely limit the quantity of food consumed, characteristically ingesting a minimal amount that is well below their body’s caloric needs, effectively slowly starving him or herself.

Though two classifications of anorexia nervosa exist, both types exhibit similar symptoms, such as irrational fear of weight gain and abnormal eating patterns.

Causes of Anorexia

Anorexia is not a simple disorder. It has many symptoms and effects, and its causes are complex as well. Currently, it is thought that anorexia nervosa develops as a result of multiple factors, both biological and environmental.

Examples of environmental factors that would contribute to the occurrence of anorexia nervosa are:

  • The effects of the thinnessculture in media, that constantly reinforce thin people as ideal stereotypes
  • Professions and careers that promote being thin and weight loss, such as ballet and modeling
  • Family and childhood traumas: childhood sexual abuse, severe trauma
  • Peer pressure among friends and co-workers to be thin or be sexy.

Examples of biological factors include:

  • Irregular hormone functions
  • Genetics (the tie between anorexia and one’s genes is still being heavily researched, but we know that genetics is a part of the story).
  • Nutritional deficiencies

Anorexia Signs & Symptoms

An individual suffering from anorexia nervosa may reveal one or several signs and symptoms such as:

  • Chronic dieting despite being hazardously underweight
  • Obsession with calories and fat contents of food
  • Engaging in ritualistic eating patterns, such as cutting food into tiny pieces, eating alone, and/or hiding food
  • Continued fixation with food, recipes, or cooking; the individual may cook intricate meals for others but refrain from partaking
  • Amenorrhea: an abnormal absence of menstruation, or loss of 3 consecutive menstrual cycles
  • Depression or lethargic stage
  • Development of lanugo: soft, fine hair that grows on face and body
  • Reported sensation of feeling cold, particularly in extremities
  • Loss or thinning of hair
  • Avoidance of social functions, family and friends. May become isolated and withdrawn

Dieting Vs. Anorexia

Though the restrictive eating patterns that characterize anorexia nervosa are similar to dieting behaviors, there are stark differences between the two. The effects of the extreme behaviors resulting from anorexia nervosa are far more devastating and consequential than dieting.

While someone may diet in an attempt to control weight, anorexia nervosa is often an attempt to gain control over one’s life and emotions, especially in the light of traumatic events or a chaotic environment.

While someone might diet in an attempt to lose weight as the primary goal, in anorexia they may diet because they perceive losing weight as a way to achieve happiness and self mastery.

Anorexia Treatment


Given the complexities of anorexia nervosa, a professional treatment team involving medical doctors, dietitians, and therapists is necessary for the recovery from this eating disorder. Effective, holistic eating disorder treatment for anorexia involves three necessary components:

  • Medical: The highest priority in the treatment of anorexia nervosa is addressing any serious health issues that may have resulted from malnutrition, such as an unstable heart beat.
  • Nutritional: This component encompasses weight restoration, implementation and supervision of a tailored meal plan, and education about normal eating patterns.
  • Therapy: The goal of this part of treatment is to recognize underlying issues associated with the eating disorder, address and heal from traumatic life events, learn healthier coping skills and further develop the capacity to express and deal with emotions.

Search for accredited eating disorder treatment centers in our directory.

 Please note this is a very personal subject for me. I have watched my sister starve herself for years. We are at a point that organs are swelled,not working properly..and it will only be a matter of a year or two...

Comments are welcome..  Peace to all  )0(


Donna Added Dec 19, 2016 - 4:25pm
I decided to post this as it is a very personal subject for me..All comments are welcome, and i will not delete anyone or the comments..
Donna Added Dec 19, 2016 - 4:48pm
BTW sorry for some reason it posted 5 times!!
Utpal Patel Added Dec 19, 2016 - 5:11pm
What kind of comments are you hoping to receive?  Nobody is going to disagree with anything in this article.  In fact, I’m willing to bet big money you didn’t even write the article.  To receive comments you need to advocate for something or state some opinion that others may disagree with. 
Donna Added Dec 19, 2016 - 5:22pm
No the article is not by me, very smart on your part...
You want something to comment on, here you go:
I have a sister that is 45, since her divorce about 18 years ago this has been our life...
She has gone from being a healthy 125 lady to 89 pounds, does not eat, refuses to listen to any Dr.,or any of us, her organs are now almost non functional, she is killing herself and we have no way to help.Why,she has signed all paperwork, she is a DNR patient, she according to our state laws is in her right frame of mind, so we can not force her into any type of treatment, nor can we make her seek a Dr. for help. She runs on all machines at the gym, then comes home and collapses, no  strength to move or shower..She is dying...and all we can do is watch...
The whole reason i put this up was for awareness, and the fact my sister is not the only one on the site with some issues. So i thought maybe it would be of help to some..
So sorry if it is not up to your standards..
Have a Merry Christmas...
Utpal Patel Added Dec 19, 2016 - 5:24pm
I'm very sorry for your sister's health problems and hope she recovers from her illness.  Merry Christmas to you.  
Donna Added Dec 19, 2016 - 5:25pm
And actually the comments i was expecting were from those who have the same issues within their family...
Donna Added Dec 19, 2016 - 5:35pm
I thank you for the wishes, however she will never recover, the word as of this year is Heart is 3 times its size, her kidneys are shutting down...Her whole body is shutting down..
I have had to change my whole view on things...She would not seek counseling, so i did, understanding this is not an easy thing...but i am getting it, day by day...
At least you stopped and made a comment, thank you for that..
For some reason you seem to get a lot of shit on different articles..not sure why, as i never saw a reason for it..Peace..
George N Romey Added Dec 19, 2016 - 6:35pm
Donna so sad that your sister is killing herself and can't see a new and wonderful life.  If she only could understand that the pain she suffers eventually goes away and life starts anew.
Donna Added Dec 19, 2016 - 7:01pm
George. I have resigned myself to her fate. We tried everything in our means. The worst part us watching her do this and what it does to my mom. Dad passed with the knowledge he will see her soon. Sad thing for any parent to see. Mentally she is at the stage of a ten year old. Another part of no nutrients to the brain... I put this up for awareness to all..it can happen for lots if reasons.. If one person sees this and seeks help it was well worth it..IMO
Mircea Negres Added Dec 20, 2016 - 2:28am
The mother of a friend of mine is a former Miss Whatever. Aged over 60 and no longer a prize, she told her grand daughters around a year ago they were fat. Those girls are 10 (or 11) and 12 years old respectively. The youngest one is a little chubby, with what one would call "baby fat", but definitely not obese. As for the eldest, she's tall and naturally thin due to an active lifestyle and high metabolism. The mother freaked out when she heard that and kept her children away, with good reason I thought (and told her so). Kids need sufficient amounts of body fat and their weight to be whatever passes for normal in their case, not held to absurd adult standards, because if their food intake gets messed around with, it can cause developmental problems. Imagine, a grandmother trying to turn her already vulnerable granddaughters into insecure anorexics...
Thomas Napers Added Dec 20, 2016 - 5:14am
I have sympathy for you and your sister as she battles this disease.  As it relates to Writer Beat, help me understand the motivations of a person that would publish something written by someone else without any kind of accreditation remark? 
Bill Kamps Added Dec 20, 2016 - 7:17am
Donna,  nothing wrong with posting something as information for the rest of us.  However, you should give attribution, especially since this is a writer's forum.
I did find your article interesting, and I learned a few things.  Fortunately for me, this problem has not touched my life, and my sympathies to you, that it did in your  case.  This is one of those kinds of "hidden" problems along with many  forms of mental illness that humans suffer.
Donna Added Dec 20, 2016 - 9:49am
Thomas- was for lack of thinking...not intentional..
Credit goes to this wonderful group that offer all kinds of help and support.
The name is Eating Disorder Hope.
Donna Added Dec 20, 2016 - 12:13pm
I have come to find not much shocks me any more...
But that is not a nice grandmother...
Life can be what you make it, or it can takes its toll, my sister chose to take a path i am still attempting to fully understand...
Bill-so glad this has never hit you and yours...thank you for reading, and for commenting..I did put a link and give credit to the site that puts out all of the info..
Stone has a daughter getting into modeling...as i tried this route when younger and was told i was too fat ( at 110, and 5'4 i said thank you but no thank you)
...They wanted me at 95-100 pounds. Now this was back in the Twiggy days..maybe you are not old enough to remember her, but no way i was starving myself for anyone..I love food...LOL 
Jeanne had also mentioned her daughter had some issues with weight, so the article was to inform, i mistakenly did not input the correct link to let all know where my info came from,i was trying to figure out why it posted 5 times...
Donna Added Dec 20, 2016 - 2:36pm
The name of the group that has all listed is called the Eating Disorder Hope..they provide so much help and information..This is a group i reached out to, who put me in touch with a local person to chat with..
Since my sister would not seek help and i felt the whole family had a need to understand , i sought the counselor, that way i had info for mom and dad..
I am now also aware of what we are in for as time progresses...
Thank you for reading, not a very popular subject, just wanted awareness out for any who may need it..
Donna Added Dec 20, 2016 - 3:23pm
the same to you and the new Bride...Merry Christmas...
wsucram15 Added Dec 22, 2016 - 8:09pm
I didnt see this until just now. I have been working on my glass non-stop and with the one protest, I am exhausted.
I stopped by to wish the regulars Merry Christmas.
Without getting into the personal reasons Sara suffers from the disease she has, it is very destructive. The issue of her weight either way is a huge problem.  It has affected her medically to a minor degree and she has been in therapy on and off for some time.  When she is really bad, she is a size 2, but normally she is a 4, she freaks out if the pants are a 6.
Thank you for writing the article, I know this is personal.  My daughter might be back later, but maybe under her own name and at a later date.  Her high risk doctor and counselor both felt that the aggression towards her personally even after I explained the situation was unjust and did put her in a bad place.  The only thing that saved her from another binge this time was her baby, somehow, she was able to force herself to eat for the baby and even so, she is eating kind of sparingly.
Both of my kids are thin and share the self image thing, they have to look good. My son went from a 30 to a 32 inch waist once and I thought he was going to have a heart attack. He went on a diet, which is ludicrous since he eats like a bird anyway. Both of them walk and work out religiously.  He refuses to go to the doctor. Now I know for a fact he is at least 20lbs underweight. 
Now my son is a performer, so while I get on him, he cant be heavy, he does comedy standup and is in a band. Also he has done some tv.
My daughter modeled and did the band thing for awhile, like I did.
But I never modeled, I was always taking the pictures.
Anyway, I have seen them get sick or eat 1/4 of a sandwich for a day.  My son drinks cooler water as does my daughter, they love that, too much.   Now on occasion though, I have seen my son eat a burrito at chipotle, not the whole thing, but he likes them and does scarf down as much as he can eat.  With my daughter its Arbys curly fries, no sandwich..just fries. But you know what happens, I have been fighting them about this for years.
I am very sorry about your sister, I know it is very difficult to watch someone you love suffer and feel helpless. I said a prayer in hopes you and your family can help your sister with her difficulties and help her find her way. 
I send you my best wishes for a great holiday.  Someone told me this once and I will pass it on to you, "your sister is a rose in the snow".   I understood it and perhaps you will also...
Donna Added Dec 23, 2016 - 10:32am
WSU. Merry Christmas to you and the family..
Thank you, i did get it...
ED- You are correct TB is life-threatening...but you are incorrect about this being wrong. 
wsucram15 Added Dec 23, 2016 - 6:19pm
No, I agree..I believe my son also suffers, but not to the extreme my daughter does, he has stomach issues but I have never seen him sick like her.   She has been in the hospital a couple of times, once to force feed her nutrients. She has damage to her heart (not sure why) , kidneys and some other issues with her digestive track that were a direct cause of the eating disorder.  At one point, she was in the 80lb range. ( I dont think she would like me to discuss this).  We didnt know why until she was about 21, and then she came out with it.  
I begged her to not have this baby, she seems weak and very temperamental. As she progresses in the pregnancy, I will be moving her in my house with my son, to keep an eye on her.  But the doctors including the high risk doctor are confident she will be fine.  Its actually a freak thing this happened and she is convinced it is some sort of gift. I think it is very unfair to her autistic son and the baby.   But I have very little faith in the vast knowledge on predictions of doctors.
Gaining weight after being thin is horrible. Losing weight is almost like getting high, it changes your metabolism. It is habitual.. Hence the disorder. Someone told me that once.
I am really sorry that anyone has to be this ill from something most people do not understand.  They just dont.
Donna Added Dec 29, 2016 - 1:35pm
No this is not a disease that chooses male or female..and yes it does kill...
Sad truth, but real..Thank you for sharing a personal story...
WSU, i hope all stays well with your family...

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