Anorexia is a condition that is increasingly prevalent among people—in particular, young and teenage girls—in our modern world. The condition is arguably the most well-known eating disorder and can have incredibly devastating consequences for people who are struggling with the condition—particularly if it goes unnoticed for a while.

Two images of an anorexic female patient published in 1900 in “Nouvelle Iconographie de la Salpêtrière”, (a french medical journal) vol 13.  1900 by Georges Gasne (his position being “chef the clinique de la Salpêtrière” at publication)

Incidence of Anorexia

Anorexia is a serious mental health condition that can lead to many severe consequences if allowed to fester without therapy and treatment for a long period of time. The condition is becoming increasingly common in our modern world, partially due to the pressure placed upon young people to conform to societal expectations and the impact of social media and other such platforms.

The use of software such as photoshop to create unrealistic expectations for people’s appearances is further helping to develop the incidence rate for eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia; people who recover from anorexia may also go on to develop anorexia again, or another eating disorder such as bulimia. These conditions are both similar in terms of a shared obsession with

Anorexia most commonly affects women, who are often perceived to have the highest social pressure to conform with expectations established by society. However, the incidence of young and older men developing the condition is also rising nowadays; it is predicted that approximately 25% of men will be struggling with a condition such as anorexia or bulimia at some point in their lives.

People admitted to hospital for anorexia, on average, were about 13 years of age. On top of this, it is further estimated that 1.9% of young and older women and 0.2% of men will be struggling with anorexia at any one point in a year.

Symptoms of Anorexia

Of all of the different mental health conditions, anorexia has one of—if not the—highest incidences of death. Furthermore, of the surviving patients, approximately 50% will recover from the condition, and a further 20% will remain ill but will improve. A further 20% do not fully recover from the condition and will need further therapy.

Symptoms of anorexia include missing meals or otherwise being unwilling to eat; taking pills to help prevent absorption of calories or to otherwise induce weight loss; taking medication to reduce the level of hunger that the individual feels; lying about food consumption or discarding/cutting down on portion sizes to limit the amount of food that is being consumed; following strict rituals and habits at mealtimes; carefully monitoring food consumption, especially in terms of calorie counts; a serious fear of putting on weight and an obsession with losing weight, even if the individual is already a healthy weight or otherwise underweight; and exercising excessively so as to create a strong negative energy balance.

All of these aforementioned symptoms are signs of anorexia, which can often start off quite mild and can subsequently increase in severity. Sufferers from anorexia that have been struggling for a long period of time may eventually get to the stage of being bed-bound, due to extreme malnutrition.