Anorexia, or ‘Manorexia’ as dubbed in the press for males, is an illness in which you continually diet and starve yourself. You may be frightened of putting on weight and act this out by restricting your food and drink intake. You may also binge, vomit, use laxatives or exercise excessively in order to control your weight.

Many people with anorexia feel they do not deserve to occupy space. The more weight they lose, the less of them there is to hate. When others condemn their behaviour and decreased size the sufferer’s need to hear they have control is confirmed.  However, for many trying to control their weight this leads them into a downward spiral as they have no ideal discernible weight that feels safe to them. This in turn leads to a complete lack of control which can only exacerbate the illness.

Someone who is anorexic is in a desperate bid to hang onto control and cope with life. It is not a suicide bid, as some people around them often presume. Although, in some instances where side effects are so bad and the anorexia has been going on for some time, the illness can be life threatening.

What is happening?

We all need nourishment to survive and when we deprive our body of the essential food components we need this can effect our body, mind and spirit in a variety of ways. Firstly, you may become frightened of eating and therefore reduce the amount you eat significantly over time. The lack of vital fuel and goodness means that our bodies go into self-defence mode and use up all our reserve fuel supplies. In a number of months, you will become much thinner and your body weaker due to the lack of food.

The mind is also affected and it may become harder to make decisions as the chemicals in your brain will be unbalanced. Other mental conditions may also affect your way of thinking, which can vary from person to person. Once a sufferer, realises that losing weight is not the solution to their problems, this may make the eating habits worse and evolve into other methods of control such as bingeing. Sometimes this may lead to other self-harming behaviours.

The effects on the body: extreme weight loss; stumped growth in young men;  constipation and abdominal pains; low blood pressure, dizziness; bloated face, puffy face and ankles; hair on the body (if sufferer is generally not hairy); loss of hair on the head; poor blood circulation and feeling cold; dry, rough and discoloured skin; loss of bone mass; loss of muscle mass; loss of erections and wet dreams (in boys); testicles shrink; loss of libido/reduced sex drive

Psychological signs: intense fear of gaining weight and/or preoccupation with weight body shape; counting calories and limiting food choice; obsessive interest in food and what other people are eating; distorted perception of body shape and weight; reluctance to eat in front of others; denying the problem; changes in personality/mood swings; becoming aware of an ‘inner voice’

Behavioural signs: rigid and obsessive behaviour towards food; restlessness and hyperactivity; wearing bid baggy clothes; vomiting; taking laxatives.

'Men Get Eating Disorders Too' is a registered charity in England and Wales no. 1139351.

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