Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by self-starvation and excessive weight loss. Many women permanently lose fertility, muscle mass and even their lives to this disorder.
The signs of Anorexia Nervosa include:
- Disinterest in maintaining normal body weight for age and height.
- Fear of being “fat” even though underweight in reality.
- Unrealistic view of weight or body shape and/or denial of the serious consequences of low body weight.
- Loss of menstrual periods post-puberty.
While eating disorders seem to revolve around the control and/or loss of control surrounding eating behaviors, they are often about much more than that. Many psychological, emotional, interpersonal, and social factors contribute to the underlying causes of eating disorders.
For many women and some men, eating disorders are a way to cope with otherwise overwhelming or painful emotions. Food or control of food is a way to gain some control over one’s life or situations in which one might feel powerless or helpless. The irony is that the behaviors and actions involved in an eating disorder often result in a loss of competence, control, self-esteem, emotional and most dramatically, physical health.
Some psychological factors that can contribute to eating disorders are: feelings of inadequacy or lack of control, low self-esteem, and depression, anxiety or loneliness.
Some interpersonal factors that can lead to an eating disorder are: a history of being ridiculed because of appearance or weight, troubled family relationships, and a history of physical or sexual abuse.
Some social factors that can contribute to an eating disorder are: cultural pressures that glorify “thinness” and having “the perfect body”, narrow cultural definitions of beauty, cultural norms that value people based on physical appearance rather than personality strengths.
You have a greater likelihood of developing an eating disorder and are more likely to suffer from feelings of depression, isolation, low self-esteem, and obsessions with weight loss if you have a negative body image.
You may have a negative body image if . . .
- You percieve parts of your body unlike they really are.
- You are convinced that only other people are attractive.
- You feel ashamed, self-conscious, and anxious about your body.
- You feel uncomfortable and awkward in your body.
If you feel you may be suffering from negative body image and headed towards and eating disorder, follow these steps to improve your self image and be sure to seek information and help sooner rather than later!