How can anorexia affect you?

Aoife Ryan continues her thoughts into anoreixa…

Part 3; Consequences of Anorexia

Physically there are many serious consequences of anorexia. When the body is under nourished, it is forced to slow down all of its processes to conserve energy. Starvation affects every system in the body. − Abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure produce changes in the heart muscle, giving a higher risk of heart failure.

Somebody who is under-eating and underweight will have a lowered resistance to illness, will experience physical weakness, and be more sensitive to the cold. The body may begin to grow fine downy hair all over as an attempt to preserve warmth. The loss of bone density is a common side effect, and can lead to osteoporosis.

Without the right nutrients, hormones cannot be produced and the reproduction can be damaged. The most obvious sign of this is the loss of periods in women. Fertility issues can arise as a result of this.

Anorexia also affects a person’s thinking and behaviour. With this, there are consequences emotionally. Poor nutrition and dehydration will produce changes in brain chemistry. These changes can lead to distorted thinking, untrue perceptions, obsession, and problems intellectually. It can increase vulnerability to other psychiatric disorders. The following are common consequences for a person suffering with anorexia:

− Body dysmorphic disorder is often seen in someone with anorexia. This is a body-image disorder where the person will find certain flaws that may exist at all, and become preoccupied and obsessed with it. For example, someone with anorexia’s image of themselves may be that they are over-weight when they are under-weight.

− Reduced concentration

− Poor memory

− Difficulties with abstract thinking, problem solving, decision making and planning.

− There are much higher levels of anxiety

− Depression is commonly seen in a sufferer of anorexia

− Obsessive-compulsive disorder may begin to develop.

These psychological side effects make the recovery process very difficult for the individual. Because of the nature of the disorder, a person suffering from anorexia may find it hard to admit to the seriousness of the risks to their physical and mental health.