Anorexia is a severe eating disorder in which a person experiences an intense fear of weight gain and obsessive concern with the food they eat. Sufferers decrease their weight to unhealthy levels through starvation or excessive physical activity. While recognized as an eating disorder, the condition is classified as a mental health disorder as well by the Canadian Mental Health Association. The disease can cause a variety of disabling symptoms that require medical treatment, which can sometimes be paid for under the Disability Tax Credit for Anorexia guidelines.
Types of Anorexia and Symptoms
The condition had been grouped into one disorder, but has now been broken into two specific diagnoses depending on the behaviors and symptoms a patient exhibits.
- Anorexia Nervosa—defined by an obsessive concern about food consumption and eating habits, symptoms include voluntary starvation, irrational fear of weight gain, unrealistic body image, and a powerful desire for control.
- Anorexia Athletica—defined as a condition where a person compulsively exercises to unhealthy levels out of a desire for power and control over their body, symptoms include fixation on physical performance as an indication of self-worth, fanaticism regarding weight and diet, and inability to achieve satisfaction with weight and physical activity levels.
Both forms of Anorexia are more about controlling emotional problems than actual weight loss or nutritional concerns. Many with anorexia also suffer from depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses. Submission of a disability tax credit application can help cover the cost of treatment for the various effects of the disease.
Effects of Anorexia
Voluntary starvation and inadequate nutrition can cause a variety of health problems. Aside from a person being well below a healthy weight range for their age and height, Anorexic behaviors can cause the following health issues:
- Depression, anxiety, mood swings or other mental disorders
- Weakness and general lack of energy
- Decreased cognitive function
- Brittle nails and yellowing of skin
- Dental issues such as tooth decay, gum damage, and halitosis
The body will begin to shut down various organs if the condition is allowed to continue, and eventually death will occur if not treated.
Disability Tax Credit for Anorexia and Other Support
As with any mental condition, making the decision to seek help can be difficult. Fortunately, there are numerous centers and a variety of treatment options available to become healthy again. Financial assistance can be granted by applying for a disability tax credit, and many organizations can arrange for treatment and support of the condition.
- The National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC)—non-profit organization mandated by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care Mental Health Programs and Services division to provide public information and support for sufferers of Anorexia and other eating disorders.
- The Looking Glass Foundation—partnered with the Woodstone Treatment Facility, this organization aims to provide education and assistance to families and patients with eating disorders.
- Eating Disorders Foundation of Canada (EDF)—provides support to community groups to set up campaigns and awareness of eating disorders to encourage sufferers to seek medical care. They can provide resources for physicians, counselors and support.
When working to overcome any type of mental disorder, it is imperative to have a good support network around the patient. Family and friends can provide emotional assistance, as can support groups and physicians. Financial assistance can be granted for severe cases through the Disability Tax Credit for Anorexia from the Canadian government. The sooner a person receives treatment, the better their outcome in the long term when returning to a healthy lifestyle.