Anorexia Nervosa is a mental illness that leads sufferers to have a dangerous obsession with weight and refuse to maintain a healthy body weight. People with anorexia will often drop to dangerously low weights and fight a daily battle with food, image and weight.
Anorexia affects one in one hundred women between the ages of fifteen and thirty in the UK, and ten per cent of anorexics are men. It is a dangerous illness, causing many long term health problems in those that suffer from it such as malnutrition, hair loss and brittle bones. It can also cause severe organ failure and death in some cases.
A Perception Problem
Many sufferers have a unrealistic perception of their problem and will continue to believe they are overweight when in fact they are dangerously underweight. This influences a denial of the severity of their condition and a refusal to seek the anorexia help they desperately need.
While anorexia is a more recognised disease than ever before, there is a growing problem affecting the recovery of anorexia sufferers. With the rise of social media, the internet has seen a rise in the prevalence of ‘thinspiration’ blogs on the web, encouraging anorexia sufferers to continue with their destructive path.
These thinspiration blogs are prevelant on most social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr and Pinterest – posting content as aspiration to eating disorder sufferers. Many will feature images of dangerously thin celebrities and models as well anorexia and bulimia sufferers charting their thinning and changing bodies over time.
As well as the hauntingly tragic images, are quotes and words of so-called ‘encouragement’ to sufferers – meant to spur them into continuing their damaging behaviour? These blogs are often triggers to anorexia sufferers – pushing them back into their cycle of damaging behaviour and discouraging them from eating.
Campaigners for anorexia help are fighting a losing battle to ban and pull down these accounts. As one site or profile is pulled down, another will often appear. Thinspiration content is all too easy to find on the internet and many sites are struggling to keep a grip on their users despite altering their guidelines to protect from this kind of content.
But for those that do want anorexia help, there are options and treatments to battle this debilitating condition. There are centres across the UK that are specialise in treating anorexia sufferers and giving them the help they badly need to live a healthy lifestyle. If the war can be won against thinspiration sites, a dent may be able to be made in number of cases emerging each year.
Featured images: License: Royalty Free or iStock source: sxc.hu
Ben Head is in charge of online marketing at Life Works Community – a rehab centre in Surrey that specialises in a range of treatments for addiction and behavioral disorders.