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Health Services

EATING DISORDERS

Anorexia Nervosa

How Do I Know If I Have Anorexia Nervosa?

Answer the following questions:

  • Do you refuse to go above a certain body weight?
  • Have your periods stopped or become irregular?
  • Do you have an extreme fear of gaining weight or becoming fat?
  • Are you disturbed by your body weight or shape?
  • Do you consider body weight or shape the major factor in self-evaluation?
  • Do you have a stringent set of rules that restrict the amount, kind, or type of food you can eat?
  • Do you feel anxious about consuming food?
  • Are you preoccupied with food and food information, like caloric value and fat content?
  • Do you lie to yourself or others about the amount of the food you do eat?
  • Are you preoccupied with the food that others eat while restricting your own food?
  • Do you deny the seriousness of low body weight?

If you answered "yes" to more than one of these questions, you've given yourself reason enough to talk to your healthcare provider about your eating habits.

 

Symptoms:

  • Loss of weight or failure to gain weight with growth.
  • Refusal to maintain healthy body weight.
  • Distorted body image (see yourself as fat despite extreme thinness).
  • Overwhelming fear of being fat.
  • Absence of three menstrual cycles.
  • Excessive dieting and fasting.
  • Extremes in exercsing or other behavior.
  • Chews gum excessively.
  • Studies food content and counts calories.
  • Preoccupation with food but refusal to eat.
  • Frequent weighing.
  • Perception of normal skin folds as fat.
  • Inability to maintain relationships.
  • Isolation from friends and family.
  • Dresses in oversize clothes to hide body.

Anorexics may suffer from a combination of eating disorders or move from one eating disorder to another.

 

What Are The Personal Costs Of Anorexia Nervosa?

  • Hollowed eyes and cheeks
  • Multiple bruises from loss of protective fat layer
  • Fine hair on skin, called Lanugo (body trying to replace lost fat as protection)
  • Hair on scalp decreased, thinning
  • Lack of menstrual cycle
  • Dehydration
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Fatigue
  • Diminished capacity to think
  • Slowed metabolism and reflexes
  • Lowered body temperature
  • Intolerance of cold
  • Reduced muscle mass
  • Diminished thyroid activity:
    • Brittle hair and nails
    • Dry skin
    • Slowed pulse rate
    • Constipation
  • Bone density and joint problems
  • Shrunken organs
  • Heart problems (lower output and irregular rhythm)
  • Suicide
  • Sudden death

Without treatment there is a 20% mortality rate for persons with eating disorders.
With treatment there is 2-3% mortality rate.

 

Bulimia

Bulimia sufferers:

  • Can be overweight, underweight, or normal weight
  • Are mostly female and older teen or young adult
  • Binge eat and then vomit (purge) and/or take laxatives or water pills (diuretics) to "undo" the binge
  • Have severe health problems that come from the binge-purge cycle of eating. These include stomach lining damage, irregular heartbeat, kidney damage from low potassium levels, and damage to tooth enamel from vomiting
  • Repress anger because they can't express emotions in an assertive way. They fear upsetting important people in their lives

Approximately 2% of college students an 1% of U.S. women overall have bulimia.
Bulimia can follow anorexia or vice versa.

There is no cause for these eating disorders, but there are many factors.
These include:

  • A possible genetic link
  • Metabolic and biochemical problems or abnormalities
  • Pressure from society to be thin
  • Personal or family pressures
  • Fear of entering puberty or becoming sexually active

 

More Information

Baruch Counseling Center
137 East 25th Street (Annex building)
Room 927
Phone: (646) 312-2155
E-mail: counseling@baruch.cuny.edu.

Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD)
www.anad.org

National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)
www.nationaleatingdisorders.org