Anorexia Nervosa – An Eating Disorder That Can Be Fatal


In my many years of talking with teens and learning about their personal thoughts on their eating disorders, it has always been sad. I have also come across parents who almost lost their girls due to anorexia or bulimia. It may seem exaggerated for other people. They think that teens with these disorders are faking it and just crave for attention. Others say that they are just being brats for not eating.

Well, it is correct. These teens do need a lot of attention because if they will be left unattended with an eating disorder in tow, it will literally kill them. Eating disorders are real mental illnesses. It is not something made up just for the sake of being a brat. You have to understand that this is serious and it really happens even to the most promising teens.

Many people who don’t “look like they have an eating disorder” based on their weight, gender, or skin color are not identified as having an eating disorder by medical professionals. — Alexis Conason Psy.D.

Losing your Child to this Mental Disorder

Let’s call her Janey. She lost her baby girl, Ruth, to anorexia nervosa and blames herself for not detecting the problem earlier. Janey keeps on saying that if only she had more time at home and cut one of her three jobs so that she could focus on her kids, Ruth would still be alive.

If you are a parent like Janey, blaming yourself at this point will not change the past. But then again, you may think that “if only I could have pushed my daughter to get the proper treatment earlier on, I should have been able to save her.”

Ruth didn’t want to acknowledge that she was sick. Even if Janey placed her under an extensive eating disorder treatment when she found out, it was too late. Ruth would only eat 5 pieces of almonds each day and at 90lbs with her 5 foot 5-inch frame, she still felt fat. This is really a sad reality as anorexia nervosa can steal away your loved one from you piece by piece.


Teens are Prone to Anorexia


The third most chronic illness that plague adolescents worldwide is anorexia nervosa, according to NCBI or National Center for Biotechnology Information. As of 2011, there were 20 million females and 10 million males who suffer from eating disorders including anorexia – this fact was mentioned in the Textbook in Psychiatric Epidemiology, Epidemiology of Eating Disorders chapter.

What’s even more alarming is that up to 10% of those diagnosed with anorexia nervosa die within 10 years. Even with treatment, not everyone gets to be completely cured. Only fifty percent of those who submit to treatment regain their normal lives, as reported by American Psychiatric Association.

These facts prove that anorexia nervosa is not a fake sickness. It is real and it is happening to teenagers, especially to young girls. What led them to believe that they are too fat and that they need to starve themselves in order to get thin?

People commonly misperceive that individuals with eating disorders are “vain” or that eating disorders are all about wanting to look thin like models in the magazines. However, the reality is that eating disorders are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. — Jennifer Rollin MSW, LCSW-C

Why Teens Suffer from Anorexia

There is no one reason to pinpoint as to why teenagers suffer from anorexia nervosa, or any other type of eating disorder for that matter. Although, researchers believe that it is brought about by several things which include biological influences, psychological issues, and environmental factors.

It was observed that when a parent has anorexia nervosa, it is highly possible that her child will acquire the same disorder, as well. As for psychological issues, anorexia nervosa on a child or a teenager can be brought about by her lack of self-esteem. Lastly, environmental factors like poverty can promote anorexia nervosa. Since there is no money to buy food, the children get used to not eating.


Overcoming this Disorder


The reasons are different from one teen to another. Whatever that specific reason is, the whole ordeal is just overwhelming and truly unbelievable. Does it mean that since only fifty percent of those who resort to treatment gets cured, then, the other fifty percent has no hope? Do we just leave them be until they die?

You have to believe that there is always hope. It must never leave your mind, heart, and soul. YOU ARE WORTHY OF LIVING – continue on thinking that way.

Sometimes attitudes and behaviors emerge in response to the overwhelming despair and hopelessness that accompanies watching a loved one starving herself/himself. — Judy Scheel Ph.D., L.C.S.W., CEDS

Yes, statistics proved that only 50% gets cured and that up to 10% of those with anorexia nervosa can die in 10 years. But, there are also reports which state that up to 20% of young girls and women with anorexia can live up to two decades upon onset. This means that they have the will to live because they are hopeful of prolonging their lives. These teenagers who have that WILL must be helped. They have to be saved before their body organs cease to function properly which can cause their premature deaths.

Acceptance that there is an eating disorder will facilitate rehabilitation. It will never be easy. But with your family’s support, you will make it. They love you and you love yourself – always think about that.

The road will be dark. Every day, you will feel like giving up. But, never give up. You need help from your family and certified specialists like psychiatrists or therapists to walk you through your disorder. Just take it one day at a time and you will overcome this.