Anorexia in America: an Illness on the Rise

Sep 10, 2015 | Publisher: rebeccashouse | Category: Science |   | Views: 0 | Likes: 1

Anorexia and eating disorders in general are on the rise in the U.S. This is true of both women and men, and, sadly, young children as well. A study conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that hospitalizations for eating disorders among children under age 12 rose by 119% between 1999 and 2006. We’ll explore what anorexia is, what causes it, and how it’s treated. Anorexia nervosa (often simply called “anorexia”) is a psychological disorder characterized by an intense fear of gaining weight, and a distorted perception of body weight/image. Anorexia sufferers have obsessive thoughts about their weight and take extreme measures to avoid weight gain, including starvation, self- induced vomiting, excessive exercise, and other methods. As a result, they can become extremely thin and emaciated. • Between one-half and one percent (0.5-1%) of American women suffer from anorexia, according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). • Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents, according to the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC). • A young woman with anorexia is 12 times more likely to die than other women her age who do not have anorexia, according to the American Journal of Psychiatry. • Between 5-20% of those with anorexia will die, according to NEDA. Anorexia was once thought of as simply a problem of “vanity.” Our understanding of anorexia has evolved over the years, and today it is recognized as a serious psychological disorder. While the exact cause isn’t known, experts believe that a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors contributes to the development of anorexia. Dramatic weight loss is a telltale physical sign of anorexia. Behavioral signs include: • Being preoccupied with weight and the calories and fat grams in food • Having anxiety about gaining weight or “getting fat” • Denying feelings of hunger, even extreme hunger pangs • Avoiding social situations that involve food • Commenting frequently about being or feeling fat • Exercising excessively • Wearing baggy or layered clothing to hide weight loss While anorexia and eating disorders in general have long been thought of as a “girl problem,” males are increasingly developing eating disorders. This is especially true for males who participate in sports that emphasize physique and body weight, including swimming, wrestling, and body building. Unfortunately, males are less likely to seek help for an eating disorder because of the stigma associated with EDs. The health consequences of anorexia can be especially severe, and even deadly. They include: • Loss of bone density (osteoporosis) resulting in dry, brittle bones • Severe dehydration • Abnormally low heart rate and blood pressure, which can damage the heart muscle • Kidney failure (from dehydration) • Growth of a downy layer of hair called lanugo. This can occur all over the body, including the face, and is the body’s way of trying to keep itself warm • Dry hair and skin • Extreme fatigue and weakness Prevention programs aimed at altering knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors have had some success, but, considering the genetic component of anorexia, it is unlikely any one prevention measure will be a panacea. The best hope for those with anorexia is a comprehensive eating disorder treatment program that uses a combination of psychotherapy, nutritional counseling, and professional medical care, like the program offered at Rebecca’s House. Long-term recovery is possible. Rebecca’s House offers personalized eating disorder treatment for people recovering from anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating disorder, compulsive overeating, disordered eating, and co-occurring disorders. We offer several programs, including extended care, partial day treatment, intensive outpatient, and recovery living. Our skilled staff members take a holistic approach to treatment, using psychotherapy and medication management to address the mind, body, feelings and emotions, as well as nutrition counseling, healthy levels of exercise, and fun, to help clients on the road to long-term recovery. Learn more about our eating disorder treatment programs at • • df • • • males/75557.html • disorders • | Anorexia, once thought to be a problem of “vanity,” is a serious psychological disorder that is on the rise in the U.S. Learn about anorexia, its causes, and how it’s treated.


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