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June 10, 2019

Anorexia Kills the Body, Mind and Spirit

Lady in Hospital Bed for eating disorder medical stabilization

Anorexia Nervosa can easily be a death sentence. Anorexia kills the body, mind, and spirit and has the highest mortality rate of any mental health issue. It is life-threatening and saps all energy, vitality, and personality from its victims.

Most sufferers from anorexia feel emotionally flat, spiritually empty and listless. Suicide is highly possible, and those that try it are more likely to die than those struggling with binge eating disorder (BED), bulimia or other forms of disordered eating.

It’s estimated that 4% of men, women and children fighting anorexia will die.

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Anorexia Kills

Anorexia can and often does destroy the body of very talented people.  It may be the common drive for perfection coupled with anxiety in many of these anorexia sufferers that leads to much success but also destroys the spirit.

Anorexia is usually characterized by extremely low body weight for the height and stature of an individual.  Those that suffer from anorexia nervosa are engaged in self-starvation and are highly preoccupied with their body weight.

Karen Carpenter

For example, Karen Carpenter died at 32 yrs of age in the prime of her musical career. Her death in 1983 was caused by complications related to decades of practicing anorexic behaviors.

We lost a lovely soul, voice, and being to a disease that is treatable – particularly when intervention occurs early on in the disease. What outstanding creative genius and music is left unexplored due to this loss?

Isabelle Caro

Isabelle Caro also tragically died from anorexia nervosa. She was a beautiful French model who was an advocate for eating disorder awareness and prevention.  Growing up, she had a traumatic childhood and struggled to overcome the isolation and loneliness of her upbringing.

Isabelle shed light on anorexia and body image issues when she was featured on a Jessica Simpson show titled “The Price of Beauty” in 2010. She also brought anorexia into the spotlight when the Italian Fashion Week billboard displayed Isabelle’s emaciated body and forced many in the fashion industry to question their unhealthy thinness standards.

Sadly, she died November 17, 2010, from autoimmune complications attributed to her years of practicing anorexia. The world parted too soon with a woman of tremendous courage and fortitude.

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Even though anorexia can and does take lives, in most cases, anorexia nervosa is treatable. As a therapist and the founder of Eating Disorder Hope, I can personally attest to countless amazing recovery stories where men and women were at death’s door and turned it around!  It is profoundly important to maintain a balanced and realistic hope in recovery from this disease.  Without hope, it is a much harder journey for the sufferer, family and all involved loved ones & eating disorder professionals.

Their sometimes miraculous recoveries came about with excellent treatment by eating disorder specialists.  Recovery from anorexia nervosa is absolutely possible!

This is not something to fight alone. This eating disorder commands the best care you can possibly receive in order to recover.  If you or someone you care about has anorexia, it is time to pull out all the stops.

Because anorexia kills, it is worth the awkward conversation and even possible loss of the relationship in order to save the life of the sufferer.  If you do not know where to begin the conversation, then reach out to Eating Disorder Hope, the National Eating Disorders Association, or the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. Any of these eating disorder resources can assist you in helping your loved one or yourself.

The gifts, talents, and contributions of those struggling with anorexia can be profoundly beneficial to society.  The fight is not just to save the life of the individual with anorexia, but to ensure that the world can reap the rewards of all that the sufferer will contribute in making the world a better place.

The person suffering from anorexia also deserves the opportunity to recover from the eating disorder and to be able to fully and meaningfully contribute – as this is the stuff that makes life worth living!


1. Grimes, W. (2010, December 30). Isabelle Caro, Anorexic Model, Dies at 28. Retrieved May 5, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/31/world/europe/31caro.html

2. Arcelus, J., Mitchell, A. J., Wales, J., & Nielsen, S. (2011). Mortality rates in patients with Anorexia Nervosa and other eating disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry, 68(7), 724-731.

3.Crow, S.J., Peterson, C.B., Swanson, S.A., Raymond, N.C., Specker, S., Eckert, E.D., Mitchell, J.E. (2009) Increased mortality in bulimia nervosa and other eating disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry 1661342-1346.

About the author:

Jacquelyn EkernJacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC founded Eating Disorder Hope in 2005, driven by a profound desire to help those struggling with anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorder. This passion resulted from her battle with, and recovery from, an eating disorder. As president, Jacquelyn manages Ekern Enterprises, Inc. and the Eating Disorder Hope website. In addition, she is a fully licensed therapist with a closed private counseling practice specializing in the treatment of eating disorders.

Jacquelyn has a Bachelor of Science in Human Services degree from The University of Phoenix and a Masters degree in Counseling/Psychology, from Capella University. She has extensive experience in the eating disorder field including advanced education in psychology, participation, and contributions to additional eating disorder groups, symposiums, and professional associations. She is a member of the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), Academy of Eating Disorders (AED), the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) and the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (iaedp).

Jacquelyn enjoys art, working out, walking her dogs, reading, painting and time with family.
Although Eating Disorder Hope was founded by Jacquelyn Ekern, this organization would not be possible without support from our generous sponsors.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Reviewed & Approved on June 10, 2019, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC
Published June 10, 2019, on EatingDisorderHope.com

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