Is the battle to be thin compromising your health? It may be - Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder. While most people think of anorexia as an eating disorder, in actuality, anorexia nervosa is a psychiatric diagnosis - one which describes the eating disorder we commonly call anorexia. Mentally, people with anorexia suffer from body image distortion, which makes them feel perpetually overweight, even when they are actually very thin. Because of this skewed body image, anorexics are continuously focused on attaining a low body weight, often severely limiting their food intake. Anorexics may also exercise excessively, abuse diet pills, or induce themselves to vomit in at attempt to lose weight. Sadly, continuously starving the body can be physically devastating. Over time, anorexics can experience low blood pressure, a slowed heartbeat, stunted growth, a weakened immune system, and tooth and bone decay. If left untreated, anorexia nervosa can lead to death as the body gives in to literal starvation. Some research suggests that people prone to perfectionism, depression, or anxiety may be more likely to suffer from anorexia, but there is no single cause for the disease. While 90% of the people who suffer from anorexia are female, and adolescent girls are the most likely group to be affected, the disorder still affects many different kinds of people. Nonetheless, women who participate in a job or sport that emphasizes body size, such as modeling, gymnastics or ballet, may also be more likely to be anorexic. Regardless of the cause, if you think you or a friend may be suffering from this psychological disorder, willpower alone is not enough to stop it. In fact, it's vital to seek immediate counseling and medical care from a doctor or your college's health center.
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Last Updated:December 20, 2012