Teenage girls and women in early adulthood are at highest risk for developing anorexia. The physical effects of anorexia can cause lasting psychological issues and medical problems, especially for people who develop the disorder at a young age.
Young girls are susceptible to the pressures from their peers and the media to be thin. The media and peers may show negative attitudes towards people who are overweight. These attitudes can instill a fear in young girls about becoming overweight. Young girls are also influenced by parents who may also express these negative attitude or struggle with weight control.
Anorexia in girls is often seen as a way girls establish some sense of control. Adolescent girls who feel as if their school and parents are controlling their lives may use anorexia to gain some sense of control. Girls who have been victims of sexual violence may also use anorexia to cope with that loss of control over their bodies.
Girls with anorexia may not be aware of the negative physical effects of anorexia. The effects on the hair and skin may be seen, but the effects on the heart, kidneys, and other physical effects may not be seen. Therefore, a girl with anorexia may not realize the damage being done to their bodies.
Anorexia causes decreased estrogen which can affect the girl’s development and cause osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become fragile. Calcium and estrogen are needed to prevent osteoporosis.
Girls with anorexia can often be effectively treated and have a full recovery. Treatment may be outpatient therapy, but hospitalization may be necessary. If the physical effects have been severe, a hospitalization may be used to treat the symptoms of anorexia. This medical hospitalization may be followed by hospitalization at a psychiatric hospital or recovery center to help the girl begin the recovery process. Nutritional education may be part of the treatment for anorexia in girls.
After treatment, some girls with anorexia recovery completely while others may struggle with anorexia their whole lives. Some of the girls who recover from anorexia may relapse later in life. It’s important to remember that there is no fast cure for anorexia. Recovery from anorexia is a gradual process.