Plainly put, anorexia is an eating disorder where a person starves him or herself. Anorexia mainly affects adolescent girls. They have an intense fear of becoming fat. They think they are overweight, but in fact most anorexics weigh a full 15% below their normal body weight. Anorexia strikes about 1% of adolescent females. This is about one in one hundred women.
Some psychiatrists think anorexia is not just about being thin or fat. It stems from fear a of growing up and losing control. It's about fear of becoming a women, growing up, building relationships, leaving home.
Her body is changing and growing and she doesn't like it and wants to be child sized again. Some psychiatrists think that eating disorders can also be caused by life experiences such abuse.
Some studies have shown that if a mother has anorexia a child is 12 time more likely to develop it than someone with no family history.
The person who suffers with anorexia cannot help herself. She must be treated by a mental health professional experienced in dealing with anorexia. Some receive long term psychotherapy.
The first thing however is to get this girl's health back as best as you can. This person may need to be coaxed to eat, and, may need a supportive caregiver to actually watch to make sure she eats. There are numerous health concerns with anorexia. Some of these are osteoporosis, irregular heart beat and in the most severe of cases permanent failure of normal growth development. Most women sufferers of anorexia will lose their normal menstrual cycle. If an anorexic woman would conceive a child she would be likely to miscarry or have a baby born prematurely.
Without treatment up to twenty percent of anorexia suffers will die. With treatment 60% can recover and maintain healthy weight. However, even with treatment about 20% of people will continue to have an unhealthy lifetime obsession with weight and food.
If you confront a loved one about anorexia get ready to deal with someone in a true state of denial. They will be angry, and may become more withdrawn and depressed. There is nothing that you can do to change your loved one's perception of him or herself. You can't make your loved one eat. There are many organizations that are available to help anorexia sufferers and their families get the help they need.