When Diets Become Deadly; Anorexia in America

The term anorexic is thrown around a lot these days. Although anorexia is a serious psychological disorder that sadly often results in death, there is a general societal shade thrown toward those who struggle with the disease.

It’s an Illness, Not a Punchline

Often, the word anorexic is used as a blanket term to describe anyone who is exceptionally thin, at other times it is used to describe an individual’s personality. These attitudes further alienate anorexics battling to see themselves as worthy members of society from seeking the help required to let them become so.

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What Causes Someone to Develop Anorexia

The underlying reasons for anorexic behaviors have yet to be exactly pinpointed by medical studies, but societal pressures rank high on the list of possible culprits. Other mental health issues and the personal relationships in the patient’s life play key roles in the study of anorexia, also. Science and psychiatry agree on one very important point, anorexia can, and often does, result in death if left untreated.

As social media continues to merge into our daily lives, people are inundated with what society says is most and least desirable. In a world where people swipe left or right to rate and judge potential partners based on a single photo and photographic filters are generously applied, it’s easy to see why so many young women feel pressured to achieve completely unrealistic beauty standards.

Overly Critical Self Perception

Statistically, most patients diagnosed with anorexia are young white women, but this disorder is not specific to this demographic alone. Why more middle-to-upper class Caucasian girls develop the disorder than any other socioeconomic group is a topic of much research in recent years.

Anorexia

Typically, anorexia can be divided into two major forms: Anorexia nervosa, in which the patient suffers malnutrition through extreme dieting, restrictive eating, and sometimes total starvation in an effort to lose or keep weight off. Bulimia is the other side of anorexia, but differs in that instead of not eating, bulimics binge-eat then purge through various methods to deprive the body of the nutrients consumed.

Both type of anorexia stem from the person’s mental perception that he or she is exceedingly overweight, even when the physical evidence shows otherwise. Anorexic people struggle to see themselves in anything but a negative light and go to great lengths to achieve what they feel is their ideal body.

Recovery Means More Than Just Eating Healthy

When someone seeks treatment for an eating disorder, the focus isn’t on food intake alone. Instead, psychological treatments paired with medical intervention is key to long-term recovery. Anorexic patients are able to rebuild their bodies and their lives when proper treatment and comprehensive support systems are both adhered to.

Like many other psychiatric disorders, sometimes medication, counselling, alongside dietary changes and exercise are combined offer patients a stronger foothold in the road to recovery. Often, changes in social and personal interactions are necessary to help patients live healthy and balanced lives.