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What Are the Dangers of Pro-Ana Websites?

The internet has provided many benefits to the mental health field. There’s more awareness and openness about mental illnesses, ultimately decreasing stigma. People can access more resources to help themselves. Unfortunately, a dark side to the internet also exists in which these illnesses are glorified. One dark corner of the internet is pro-ana websites. Pro-ana is slang for groups, blogs, and social media sites that encourage behaviors and thoughts present in anorexia nervosa. This blog will discuss the dangers of anorexia nervosa and how pro-ana websites make the problem worse.

The Reality of Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is characterized by obsessive worry and control over calorie intake, weight gain, and body image. This is an incredibly dangerous disorder to develop. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the median age of onset for anorexia nervosa is 18 years old. More than half a percent of adults in the United States experience anorexia nervosa at some point in their lifetime. Additionally, only 33.8% of these adults ever seek treatment.

These NIMH statistics are especially disturbing when considering the mortality of anorexia nervosa. According to a meta-analysis in Archives of General Psychiatry, people with anorexia nervosa are 5.1 times more likely than the general population to die in any given year. Moreover, 20% of those people with anorexia nervosa died by suicide.

More Dangers of Pro-ana Websites

Anorexia nervosa statistics present the most serious issue with pro-ana websites. Pro-ana websites promote an eating disorder that poses a lethal threat. The problems go deeper than that, though.

Most people running these websites are deep in the throws of their own anorexia nervosa. When they create pro-ana content, they are reinforcing their anorexic thought patterns. Then, other people with anorexia nervosa read the content, reinforcing their beliefs. They often comment encouragingly, which then feeds back to the author. Thus, an unhealthy cycle begins.

Additionally, pro-ana content has the potential to induce eating disorders like anorexia in people with unhealthy food relationships. A person who struggles with disordered thinking could partake in pro-ana groups and decide that it’s perfectly okay to start acting on their food-related thoughts. Unfortunately, this results in more people needing help and being unwilling to recognize their problems.

If you’ve engaged in pro-ana websites, you may struggle to recognize the signs of anorexia nervosa. You also could struggle to see the disorder as a problem. The process of healing requires you to open yourself up to help. At The Guest House, we understand how difficult it is to admit your mental struggles. Our staff offers compassion and guidance as you open yourself up to eating disorder treatment. We’ll help you every step of the way, even offering an alumni program to support your recovery. When you’re ready to start down a healthier path, call us at (855) 483-7800.