How anorexia affects teenagers
Written by Nikolas Mayer on January 21, 2019
It is normal if you want to lose weight. A lot of people in the world are overweight and obese and obesity comes with a lot of social problems and health-related problems. However, some people are obsessed with losing weight to the point that they behave in certain ways that can harm them. People with anorexia are obsessed with losing weight even though they are looking underfed and malnourished. We are going to talk a bit about anorexia which is a type of eating disorder that is most common among teenagers in their late adolescent ages. Women are more affected by this condition than men. We are going to talk about what anorexia is and the devastating effects it can have on a teenager.
What is anorexia?
Anorexia is a psychological eating disorder which the person affected is obsessed with losing weight even though the person is apparently malnourished. There are some things that are quite common in people with anorexia.
- They are underweight: anorexic people usually have low body mass index due to their terrible eating habits. They look malnourished as they deliberately starve themselves and push themselves so they can lose as much weight as possible even though in reality, they would be better off gaining more weight instead of losing it.
- Distorted self-image: anorexic people have a distorted mentality about their self-esteem and their weight. They think they are fat and want to lose their imaginary weight when in reality they are dangerously underweight. They would do anything to lose weight despite their abnormally low weight.
- Harmful weight loss behaviors: despite their thin and fragile frame, anorexic people tend to go on strict diets, hunger strikes, and intense exercise in order to lose weight. Doing this when they are malnourished poses serious threats to their health and development. Most of them have amenorrhea (no menstrual flow) due to hormonal imbalances.
- They get “satiated” easily: anorexic people cannot tell when they are full or not and usually complain of feeling bloated just after having a few bites of their meal.
- Some try to purge themselves: Some anorexic people tend to have some episodes where they binge eat and they then try to make themselves throw up immediately after in an attempt to purge themselves. They may also abuse drugs and chemicals they think will help them purge themselves such as laxatives, diuretics, enemas, and other weight loss products.
There are basically two subtypes of anorexia. One is the restrictive type in which people suffering from this type do not binge eat or purge themselves. The second is the binge eating/purging type in which they tend to binge eat and then look for a way to purge themselves afterward. The second type is more like anorexia combined with another eating disorder called bulimia.
What are the effects of anorexia on teenagers?
Anorexia may seem like a psychological disorder, but its effects on the body are quite extensive. It can have seriously harmful effects on the body and can be deadly if not well attended to. Yes, you heard that right, anorexia can kill you. We are going to discuss some of the destructive consequence anorexia can have on the body.
- Effects on nutrients in the body: not eating enough food also means not taking in enough nutrients. The most disturbing of these deficiencies are protein deficiencies. Essential amino acids which are gotten from proteins are needed for muscle development. Nutrients are also needed for bone development and development of other parts of the body. Lack of nutrients due to not eating enough food can hamper the development of an adolescent and can cause growth issues. Remember, it is at the adolescent age that most of the growth and development take place. On the heart also needs a balance of minerals to keep functioning properly. There is a danger of metabolic issues in anorexic people due to mineral imbalances.
- Effects on the body: adolescence is the transition from childhood to During the teenage years, the body undergoes the fastest and most crucial development. A lot of nutrients and food are at this stage. Nutrient deficiencies due to poor eating habits will hamper developments. Because teenagers with anorexia are not likely to eat enough proteins, they are more likely to have stunted growth (which may be irreversible) and wasted muscles as proteins are needed in growth and muscle development. Female teenagers who are anorexic usually have hormonal imbalances which will lead to no menstrual flow (amenorrhea). There may also be delayed puberty, poor development of bones which can lead to osteoporosis (holes in the bones which make them weak and cause a lot of pains) later in life. If anorexic people starve themselves severely, electrolyte imbalances can lead to heart failure and arrhythmias which can be deadly.
- Effects on the mind: anorexic people have a distorted image of their self-esteem and weight. This can make them depressed and suicidal in some cases (suicide is a major cause of death in anorexic people). They also have low self-esteem and tend to be more distant socially (from their families and peers). Their obsession with their weight can lead to dysfunctional relationships with their families and peers.
In summary, anorexia has a cocktail of terrible and potentially deadly effect on the body and it is important to seek help if you are anorexic. Help in time may help arrest some of the devastating effects of anorexia before it takes a toll on you.