Mothers are probably particularly concerned that their teenage daughter may develop the eating disorder Anorexia Nervosa.
This is a disorder that is seen to afflict girls between the age of 15 and 19 and is distressingly common.
Many sufferers also misguidedly think that eating disorders are a lifestyle choice and therefore seek no help, making the disorders all the more difficult to spot. This is why it is doubly important to know more about Anorexia and its two main kinds as well as about its telltale signs that parents would do well to watch out for.
There are two main types of anorexia and many sufferers often alternate between these two types.
Restrictive Anorexia is when there is a severe restriction of the amount of calories consumed through food and compulsive exercise to burn off whatever they do eat. Fasting and excessive exercise are characteristics.
Compulsive Anorexia is also sometimes referred to as Binge and Purge Anorexia and is very similar in nature to Bulimia.
Many anorexics may go through phases of abstinence; near starvation which they alternate with periods of binging followed by purging by virtue to induced vomiting or use of purgatives and enemas to purge the system of perceived extra calories.
Though there is a certain demographic of middle or upper class teen girls who are most likely to have this disorder, it can happen to anyone really, and what you should be watching out for is this:
- Typically anorexics take great pains to hide their condition; however, there are certain medical conditions that may alert the sufferer and her family that help is required. Some young women may suffer from lack of monthly periods or irregular periods, some from marked anemia, or certain nutritional deficiencies.
- A marked weight loss may be noticed.
- The person has a horror of putting on weight, counts calories constantly and is obsessive about exercising.
- There is a fear of getting overweight even if the person is actually underweight at the time.
- The preoccupation with weight leads to frequent and obsessive weighing of self.
- Low self esteem is usually a characteristic of an anorexic.
- Many anorexics have a distorted body image.
- Inadequate nutrition may also cause constipation.
- Dry and pasty skin.
- Reduced nutrition could affect blood circulation resulting in cold hands and feet.
- Denial of hunger and lying about having eaten whereas in fact the food is hidden or thrown away.
- Fainting spells
- Hair loss