Overview

Anorexia Nervosa is characterised by severe starvation and dramatic weight loss and can also sometimes involve purging behaviours. People with anorexia experience high body distortion and mistakenly believe and feel they are overweight, no matter how underweight they may actually be.

Find out more below via videos, clips and factsheet.

Topic Videos

Fabricating Beauty - BodyTalk

A picture tells a 1000 words but not many of them true. A look into the world of magazine photos.

  • Author: BEAT
  • Upload Date: 13/6/2011

BEAT

Stories on this Topic

Featured Story (image)

What defines beauty + my story

It's a word we use almost every day to compare ourselves to others, judge others and to make a choice over which product to try based on its better-looking packaging. However, not one of us knows exactly what 'beauty' or 'being beautiful' is. Why then do we aim to be something we do not know?

Body Image has a top concern for young people today, but is also one that has been virtually ignored by the media and fashion industry that has created a world obsessed with the ideology of beauty.

Photo shopped images of tall, stick thin but yet curvy models has given society a warped indication of beauty with various unhealthy diets to lose weight and obtain the virtually impossible airbrushed look. Excessive behaviour leading to illnesses such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa has been strongly related to the pressure to look perfect.

This has led to a beauty fascist society where those who look 'different' and 'uglier' than the norm are subject to discrimination and social stigma. Yet the people with physical disabilities and/or disfigurements seem to be those who are mentally, the strongest and most comfortable in their own skin, Joanne Hutchins for example, accomplished writer and ambassador for Don't DIS my ABILITY. With so much prejudice against their appearance, they admirably still manage to live life to its fullest, enjoy a healthy mind and feel beautiful.

After previously struggling with my own body related self-esteem issues, including an attempt to starve myself, I understand what it feels like to feel body-conscious. Here are a few tips to help you treasure yourself with a healthier body and mind:

Read the rest if this inspiring blog here

  • Author: Lily
  • Upload Date: 2013-06-26

Written by Lily

Factsheet

Anorexia Nervosa

Provided by The Butterfly Foundation

We have partnered with The Butterfly Foundation to bring you the best factsheet information we can on this topic. The Butterfly Foundation provides support for Australians for suffer from eating disorders and negative body issues and their carers.

Anorexia Nervosa is characterised by severe starvation and dramatic weight loss and can also sometimes involve purging behaviours. People with anorexia experience high body distortion and mistakenly believe and feel they are overweight, no matter how underweight they may actually be.

Symptoms

Anorexia is characterised by the following
symptoms:

  • Refusal to maintain body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for age and height
  • Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming “fat,” even though underweight
  • Disturbance in the way in which body weight or shape is experienced including undue influence of body weight/ shape on self-evaluation and denial of the seriousness or even existence of low body weight
  • Absence of menstrual cycles in girls and women who had experienced this before anorexia

There are two sub types of Anorexia Nervosa:

Restricting Type

Weight loss is accomplished primarily through dieting, fasting and excessive exercise. People experiencing this sub type do not regularly engage in binge eating or purging.

Binge Eating/Purging Type

Involves regularly engaging in binge eating and/or purging. Most people with anorexia nervosa who binge eat also purge through self‐induced vomiting or the misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas. Some people do not binge eat, but do regularly purge after eating small amounts of food.

Many of the physical signs and complications of anorexia are attributed to starvation.

Warning Signs

The following are some warning signs of anorexia nervosa that are important to look out for, particularly if they appear in clusters of symptoms.

Physical Warning Signs

  • Noticeable thinness and continued loss of weight
  • Obsessive exercise
  • Loosing hair or thinning of hair
  • Feeling cold when the temperature is normal
  • Cessation of periods in post puberty girls and women
  • Lethargy
  • Insomnia

Behavioural Warning Signs

  • Intense fear of gaining weight or being “fat”
  • Preoccupation with food, weight, calories and dieting
  • Denial of hunger
  • Making excuses to avoid meal times or social outings with family and friends
  • Obsessive measuring of body parts and persistently using a mirror to check for perceived areas of “fat”
  • Rigid or fixated behaviour attached to food
  • Wearing big or baggy clothes to hide weight loss

Psychological Warning Signs

One in 10 young adults and approximately 24% of children diagnosed with anorexia nervosa are males.

  • Low self esteem
  • Obsessive thoughts about food and weight
  • Weighing self frequently
  • Perfectionism and self criticism
  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • Denial of the seriousness of the problem
  • Strong need to control external environment
  • Inflexible thinking

Complications of Anorexia Nervosa

  • Slow heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low blood sugar
  • Reduction of bone density (osteoporosis)
  • Muscle wasting
  • Brittle, thin and fragile nails
  • Loss of hair
  • Fine hair appearing on face, trunk and limbs (lanugo)
  • Tooth decay and gum disease
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Nervous irritability
  • Dry, rough and flaky skin
  • Severe dehydration which can result in kidney failure
  • Anemia
  • Poor circulation ‐ feeling cold on extremities
  • Peripheral edema

Where to go for help

It is important that if you believe you or someone you know has an eating disorder to seek professional assistance immediately. If you believe you have anorexia you are not alone.  Help & support is available

It can be scary and frightening to make this first step, however the earlier help is sought, the quicker the road to recovery. If you require a referral to a general practitioner or other health practitioner practicing in the eating disorder field, please
contact The Butterfly Foundation for a confidential referral

The Butterfly Foundation offers telephone and email support for those with eating disorders and their family and friends. This confidential and supportive counselling service is available on

(02) 9412 4499 or
support@thebutterflyfoundation.org.au

Treatment Options

Visit our information page on Treatment Options for Eating Disorders for more information including a factsheet and videos.

Tips for Recovery

Recovering from an eating disorder means different things to different people. Recovery is a process, like a journey, and it has many stages. For some people recovery can be the abstinence of behaviours and thoughts that have kept them unwell. For others, it has a focus on integrating back into regular life.

Recovering from an eating disorder takes some time and considerable effort. It is vital that you be patient and kind to yourself throughout your entire recovery process. You may find sometimes that you feel like you are not getting anywhere or moving quickly enough through your recovery. At times like this it is important to ‘hang in there’ and keep believing that full recovery is possible.

It is rare for anyone’s journey to recovery to happen in a linear way. There are often twists, turns and bumps along the way.

Listed below are some tips to help you in your recovery process:

Take Time Out

Try to do something nurturing and positive for yourself at least once a week. This is an important part of self care.

Reach Out for Support

You are not alone. Reach out to family, friends or community supports like Butterfly Foundation who can help you in times of need. Visit our treatment options information page for various options.

Reasons for Change

Remind yourself whenever possible of your reasons for change. You are deciding to move on from life without an eating disorder being present. This is a bold decision and deserves praise.

Values and Beliefs

Examine your values and beliefs and how your eating disorder may have detracted from you living your best life. This can be a powerful reminder as to why you are on a recovery path.

Triggers and Relapse

Relapse can occur in the process of recovering from an eating disorder and is actually quite common. It is important to not see this as a failure in any way. It is simply a part of the journey and a sign you may need extra professional support at that time.

Every person has different triggers and it’s important that you know yours. Often people with eating disorders find it difficult at times of change, high stress, and when feeling emotionally vulnerable.

Explore your triggers and put a plan into place if you feel that the eating disorder is coming back into your life. Reaching out for support to understand your triggers better can also help greatly.

Explore your Interests

Often when you are suffering from an eating disorder, your whole world becomes entrenched with thoughts about eating and associated behaviours. During recovery, take time to look at the enjoyed interests that you held before your eating disorder came into place, or that you might like to explore now. Did you enjoy playing the piano or would you like to learn a musical instrument? Are you a creative person that is missing an outlet for this side of yourself? By participating in these activities it will help you to refind your interests, find new ones and give you time out from your eating disorder.

Feelings

Do not hide your feelings and emotions away. Allow yourself to feel. This can be a daunting task to do but can help you fight your eating disorder by being real and genuine. Work to sit with difficult feelings in a safe environment and this will help them to move on quicker. If you find the process of allowing your true feelings to surface to be very difficult, seek support from your treatment provider or a trusted family member or friend.

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