The word "anorexia" means without appetite, but this is a misnomer. These individuals may actually be extremely hungry most of the time.
People who suffer often have low self-esteem and/or a tremendous need to control their surroundings and emotions.
Often the eating disorder is a reaction to external and internal influences and conflicts. Stress, anxiety and unhappiness can be the leading factors and their Anorexia is a negative means of coping with these factors.
The person suffering from Anorexia can be abnormally sensitive about being fat, or have a massive fear of becoming fat (not all people suffering from Anorexia have a fear of being or becoming fat), and of losing control over the amount of food they eat, accompanied by the desire to control their emotions and reactions to these emotions. With a low self esteem and often constant need for acceptance they will turn to obsessive dieting and starvation as a way to control not only weight, but their feelings and actions regarding the emotions attached. Some victims often feel they do not deserve the pleasures of life, and will deprive themselves of situations offering pleasure (including eating).
Obsessive exercise, calorie counting, fat gram counting, starvation or restriction, a constant fascination with food and health issues, self-induced vomiting, the use of excessive amounts of laxative, diuretics, and/or diet pills, and a persistent concern with body image can all be some of the physical indications that someone suffers from Anorexia Nervosa. It is not uncommon for people suffering with Anorexia to waver through periods of Bulimia (bingeing and purging) as well.
Self-imposed starvation is a serious, life-threatening disorder. If left untreated, it has a mortality rate of 5-18 percent.
Primarily adolescent females (between 12- and 25-years-old) from middle to upper-middle socioeconomic status families develop the disorder. In the U.S., estimates say anorexia affects 1,000,000 people. Anorexia occurs 20 times more frequently in females than in males.
One third of those becoming anorexic may be mildly overweight before the onset of the illness.
Individuals don't begin by trying to starve themselves. They may start dieting after a stressor occurs such as a breaking up of a relationship, parents divorcing, failing grades, or some other loss.
By restricting food intake through dieting, some people gain a sense of autonomy and control. Dieting is something they can do by themselves without asking anyone for help. In an overly close and protective family environment, it may be a way to rebel and take control.


Thinness; loss of 15 percent or more of ideal body weight.
Continued dieting when not overweight.
Distorted body image/preoccupied with body size.
Preoccupation with food and calories.
Denial of hunger.
Excessive exercising.
Frequently weighing of oneself.
Loss of menstruation (amenorrhea).
Feeling nauseated or bloated after eating normal amounts of food.
Intense fear of becoming fat.

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