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Understanding Anorexia Nervosa: Breaking Down the Silent Struggle

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Understanding Anorexia Nervosa

Hey there, let’s talk about anorexia nervosa, or simply “anorexia,” a tricky and potentially life-altering mental health rollercoaster. It’s that relentless fear of packing on weight and a twisted view of your own body. But it’s not just about the physical stuff – it messes with your head and heart too. In this blog, we’re diving deep into the world of anorexia, from what kicks it off to what it does to you, and how to tackle it head-on.

Body Image self respect Anorexia Nervosa

What is Anorexia?

So, anorexia isn’t just a crash diet gone wrong – it’s a full-blown mental health issue. Picture this: you’re surfing through Instagram, and you see all these perfectly airbrushed models. You start comparing yourself, thinking you have to look just like them. That’s when things can take a dark turn. It’s like you’re trapped in this loop of self-judgment, always trying to fit into those impossible beauty standards. Sometimes, it even leads to dangerous weight loss methods just to fit in. Social media, once a place to connect and share, can sometimes feel like a battleground where your self-esteem takes a hit. 

Woman Slim Model

Anorexia nervosa is a serious mental issue that doesn’t discriminate – it can hit people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. It usually starts making trouble during your teen years, but it can ambush you at any time. People with anorexia pull out all the stops to cut down on calories and shed pounds. We’re talking about strict diets, crazy workouts, and other not-so-healthy habits. 

child rejecting food

Spotting the signs

Behavioural signs:

  • Eating Changes: People with anorexia may skip meals, constantly track calories, or adhere to extremely tight diets.
  • Excessive Exercise: Anorexic individuals often overexercise in order to burn calories and lose weight.
  • Isolation: They may retreat from friends and social activities because they are embarrassed or judged.

Psychological signs:

  • Body Image Confusion: Those with this disorder frequently perceive themselves to be larger than they are, even when they are underweight.
  • Perfectionism: Being a perfectionist might increase one’s chances of developing anorexia as they strive for the unreachable goal of perfection.

Physical signs:

  • Rapid and drastic Weight Loss: Rapid and drastic weight loss is a huge symptom, and they get fixated with food and their appearance.
  • Health Issues: Anorexia can seriously harm your health, causing malnutrition, heart problems, weak bones (osteoporosis), and even organ damage.

Long-term Effects:

  • cardiac issues: Anorexia can cause cardiac issues such as abnormal heart rhythms and a weakened heart muscle.
  • Bone Issues: Long-term anorexia can leave your bones extremely weak, increasing your chances of fracturing them.
  • Organ Damage: It can cause damage on organs such as your liver, kidneys, and intestines, perhaps leading to organ failure.
  • Mental Health Confusion: Anorexia frequently coexists with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and OCD, which may persist even after recovery.
  • Relapse Risk: People who have had anorexia may relapse, therefore they require continuing assistance.
weighing yourself on a scale

Possible causes of Anorexia

  1. Genes: Anorexia sometimes runs in families, so there’s a hint of genetics. 
  2. Social Squeeze: Unrealistic beauty standards and societal pressure to be skinny can push anyone towards anorexia, especially those who are already vulnerable. 
  3. Life’s Rough Patches: Past traumas or emotional stress can open the door to anorexia. 
  4. Perfectionism Overload: Folks with a perfectionist streak are more likely to fall into this trap. They’re always chasing that impossible standard. 
  5. Brain Chemistry: Sometimes, wonky brain chemicals, like serotonin, can nudge you towards anorexia. 
man struggling to eat

The Road to Recovery

The good news is, that recovery from anorexia is possible, but it’s a tough journey. It’s like a puzzle with many pieces. 

  1. Seeking help from doctors: If things get really rough, medical professionals might have to step in. Hospitalization can be a lifesaver. 
  2. Food Fixers: Dietitians are like food whisperers. They help folks rebuild healthy eating habits and get those nutrients back. 
  3. Talk it Out: Therapy is crucial. Individual or group therapy, like CBT, tackles the mental stuff driving anorexia. 
  4. Medication: Sometimes, meds can help with issues like depression or anxiety. 
  5. Family Matters: Family therapy can be a significant change, educating loved ones and giving them the skills to help out. 
men and women eating well

Demi Lovato’s Battle

Now, picture this: Demi Lovato, the superstar singer and activist, who’s taken the world by storm with their incredible talent. But behind the glitz and glamour, Demi has faced their own battle with anorexia and body image issues (Miller, 2021). It just goes to show that not even the brightest stars are immune to the struggles brought on by social media’s beauty standards. Demi’s story serves as a poignant reminder that anorexia doesn’t discriminate – it can affect anyone, no matter their fame or fortune.

female singer

How to help a Friend Suffering from Anorexia Nervosa:

Being there for a friend who is suffering from anorexia is important. To begin, learn more about the condition so you can better comprehend what they’re going through. Approach them with understanding and without prejudice. Encourage open conversation but be patient if they aren’t ready to communicate right away. Avoid making comments about their looks or eating habits, as this can cause more stress. Instead, give your assistance in locating expert therapy, such as an eating problem therapist or counsellor. Encourage them to join support groups, which can help them feel more connected and understood. Remember that recovery is a journey, and your regular support can help them on their way to healing.

Briefly, anorexia nervosa is a tough nut to crack, but understanding it is the first step towards lending a hand to those who need it. With the right support and treatment, folks can bounce back, and leave anorexia in the past. That’s why early intervention and research in eating disorders are so important.


Miller, korin. (2021, May 20). Demi Lovato revealed details about their eating disorder relapse. women’s health. 

How to get help?

Jenny Tomei is a Nutritional Therapist and Eating Disorder coach. See all her credentials on her About Jen page and then should you need help then make contact with her today. Your road to recovery can start now!

Contact Jenny
Being Content on the road to recovery from Anorexia