Our society worships physical perfection. Our role models are slim, sexy, perfectly muscled actors, actresses, models, and athletes. Their images are everywhere from billboards, movie screens, to magazines. Many of us are willing to pay high costs physically, emotionally, and financially. The means by which we try to fulfill them can be extreme and even self-destructive. Young adolescents try to control their weight by dieting. Sometimes their dieting gets out of control and leads them to Anorexia. Anorexia is a misunderstood eating disorder that if left untreated can often be fatal to young adolescents.
Anorexia is a disorder in which a person refuses to eat or to retain any food or suffers a prolonged and severe reduction of appetite. The individual has an intense fear of becoming obese, feels fat even when thin, and refuses to maintain a minimal body weight. Dr. Bruch backs this up when he states, "Anorexia is a relentless pursuit of excessive thinness” (Strong, Sayad, & DeVault, 1996, p. 371). There are two types of anorexia: Restricting type and Binge-eating-purging type.
The restricting type is associated with weight loss due to food restriction. Starvation can damage vital organs, such as the heart and the brain. Mild anemia, swollen joints, reduced muscle mass, and light-headedness are common with this type of anorexia. In defense, the body will start to slow down. Monthly menstrual periods stop in females; breathing, pulse, and blood pressure rates drop; and thyroid function slows. At this stage of the disorder, the adolescent becomes dangerously close to death.
In the binge-eating-purging type, a person has regularly engaged in binge-eating and purging. Adolescents with this type of anorexia use drugs to stimulate vomiting and may be in considerable danger as this practice increases the risk of heart failure. Vomiting can also lead to less deadly but serious problems.