Anorexic patients suffer from a serious mental condition known as anorexia (or anorexia nervosa) that often leads to anxiety about their body shape and weight. The anxiety comes out of fear of being fat or the desire to remain slender, and thus they often strive to keep their weight at the possible lowest by limiting the amount of food they consume. Anorexics suffer from more than insufficient dieting as their perception of things is distorted. They often make themselves vomit and engaging in extreme exercises. Most of them have a corrupt view of food and an obsession with body image. They also tend to have poor self-esteem and low confidence.
Anorexia is considered an eating disorder that poses severe risks to its patients because of the adverse effects of nutritional deprivation on the body. However, due to their distorted perception, anorexics hardly admit that they need help.
In many cases, anorexia tends to manifest along with other conditions like self-harm, depression and alcohol abuse. The ultimate warning sign and symptom of an anorexic is their pursuit of self-worth through an extreme determination to reach a mark of thinness (which is always inadequate).
The signs and symptoms of anorexia tend to develop over time and are associated with certain genetic, emotional and life-experience tendencies. They can be divided into three categories: behavioral, physical and psychological.
Behavioral signs appear in the early stages and are evident when a patient is always preoccupying themselves with matters of food or dieting in an obsessive manner. This may include constantly weighing themselves, avoiding some foods, eating slowly, denial of hunger, laxative abuse and great focus on food preparation. Eventually, the distorted eating pattern and practices become more visible to others and possibly disrupting to one's social life. At this point, most patients may experience shame and guilt over the condition but will still try to conceal and hide the problem, as it is a sort of coping mechanism for them.
In some cases, patients may be successful in hiding their unhealthy eating behaviors. However, rapid and sudden weight loss is the first physical sign that is usually so obvious. With time, other symptoms will appear which include loss of muscle strength, difficulty sleeping, extreme tiredness, malfunctioning of the endocrine system, trouble concentrating, lack of sexual interest, low blood pressure and low body temperature. Females usually experience irregular or no periods.
Anorexics develop certain psychological symptoms as their condition progresses. For many it begins with a simple desire to remain at optimum weight and shape. This can, however, be distorted with time and one starts to experience absolute dissatisfaction with their body image. Intense fear of weight gain creeps in and one is suddenly obsessed with achieving the ‘perfect body', which in this case is a corrupted idea that can’t be farther from perfect. The inability to achieve this subjective ‘ideal’ body image brings about moodiness, depression, anxiety and low self-esteem.
At first, anorexia may have no specific signs to watch out for, but once the condition is suspected one should help the patient reach out for the necessary support and help. In most cases, anorexia leads to irreversible organ damage and death if left untreated.