BY: Neighbors’ Consejo|
Feeling dissatisfied with our bodies is widely prevalent, because social pressure and self-criticism generates doubts about how we feel about ourselves. However, there are people who, for various reasons, wrongfully take their search for self-esteem and self-confidence to levels so extreme that they start suffering from physical and mental illnesses, such as anorexia.
According to the National Institute of Mental Illness , anorexia occurs when “individuals who have a significant and persistent reduction in food intake leading to extremely low body weight; an incessant search for thinness; a distorted body image and an intense fear of gaining weight; and grossly altered eating behavior.” The same source indicates that in the U.S., per year, there are more than 200,000 people affected by this disease, which ranks among the ones with the highest mortality rate of any other mental illness.
Warning signs of this illness are: a constant worry about dieting, food, calories and weight; complaining a lot about being “fat”; refusing to eat whole groups of food like carbohydrates; not truthful about how much food you’ve eaten; wearing layers of clothes so people can’t see how much you weigh; your self-esteem is based on the way your body looks; difficulty sleeping through the night; your hair is falling out; if you are a woman, you no longer get your period; and dehydration among other signs.
The figures presented by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD ) give us an overview of how complicated an eating disorder is. For example, 9% of the U.S. population, or 28.8 million Americans, will have an eating disorder in their lifetime. About 26% of people with eating disorders attempt suicide, while 10,200 deaths each year are the direct result of an eating disorder.
However, there are solutions : Hospitalization and specialized programs, medical care, restoring the ideal weight with the support of a specialist, psychotherapy, medications and accompaniment of our relatives and friends.