Anorexia affects both the body and the mind. It may start as dieting, but it gets out of control. You think about food, dieting, and weight all the time. You have a distorted body image. Other people say you are too thin, but when you look in the mirror, you see a fat person.
Anorexia usually starts in the teen years. It's much more common in females than males. Early treatment can be very effective. But if not treated early, anorexia can become a lifelong problem. Untreated anorexia can lead to starvation and serious health problems, such as bone thinning (osteoporosis), kidneydamage, and heart problems. Some people die from these problems.
If you or someone you know has anorexia, get help right away. The longer this problem goes on, the harder it is to overcome. With treatment, a person with anorexia can feel better and stay at a healthy weight.
What causes anorexia?

Eating disorders are complex, and experts don't really know what causes them. But they may be due to a mix of family history, social factors, and personality traits. You may be more likely to have anorexia if:
  • Other people in your family have an eating disorder, such as anorexia or bulimia nervosa.
  • You have a job or do a sport that stresses body size, such as ballet, modeling, or gymnastics.
  • You are the type of person who tries to be perfect all the time, never feels good enough, or worries a lot.
  • You are dealing with stressful life events, such as divorce, moving to a new town or school, or losing a loved one.
What are the symptoms?

People who have anorexia often strongly deny that they have a problem. They don't see or believe that they do. It's usually up to their loved ones to get help for them. If you are worried about someone, you can look for certain signs.

People who have anorexia:
  • Weigh much less than is healthy or normal.
  • Are very afraid of gaining weight.
  • Refuse to stay at a normal weight.
  • Think they are overweight even when they are very thin.
Their lives become focused on controlling their weight. They may:
  • Obsess about food, weight, and dieting.
  • Strictly limit how much they eat.
  • Exercise a lot, even when they are sick.
  • Vomit or use laxatives or water pills (diuretics) to avoid weight gain.

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