What is Anorexia? Symptoms, Causes, and Its Treatment

Home » Anorexia: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
Garry Stewart
Written By Shasta Wilson

November 2, 2021

Medical Condition: Anorexia

Anorexia refers to an eating disorder that is generally characterized by an abnormally low weight with a distorted weight perception and an intense fear of weight gain.

People with anorexia have a higher value on controlling their shape and weight while using extreme efforts tending to interfere with their lives significantly.

In order to continue losing weight or prevent weight gain, patients with anorexia generally restrict the food amount they eat. It is a severe mental health condition that refers to a potentially life-threatening eating disorder.

However, with the appropriate treatment, recovery is possible. It often involves emotional challenges, an exaggerated fear of weight gaining, and an unrealistic body image.

What is Anorexia?

Anorexia is a complex health condition whose significant sign is lower body weight or extreme weight loss. However, the lack of nutrients may lead to physical symptoms and signs, including

  • Severe muscle mass loss
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dry skin
  • Listlessness, exhaustion, or fatigue
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Lower body temperature with cold feet and hands
  • Swollen feet and hands
  • Insomnia
  • Hair loss
  • Infertility
  • Less frequent periods
  • Brittle nails
  • Increased risk of fractures
  • Loss of bone intensity
  • Constipation
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Increased facial hair
  • Tooth decay
  • Bad breath

However, along with these signs and symptoms, a person may also demonstrate certain behaviors, including

  • Showing excessive concern with body size, calories, food, and weight
  • Exercising a lot
  • Taking laxatives
  • Limiting their food intake
  • Talking about being fat
  • Assessing their body size and weight frequently
  • Showing signs of depression
  • Cooking for others without eating
  • Denying feeling hungry
  • Withdrawing from social interactions and friends

How Anorexia Affects A Patient?

A patient with anorexia intentionally restricts their food intake as a way out to manage their emotional changes. Intentional dietary restrictions can also lead to several nutritional deficiencies that affect the overall health of a person.

And this all results in potentially life-threatening complications. The psychological and emotional challenges of anorexia can be complicated for a person to overcome.

However, the therapies to cope with it may include counseling, medical care, and nutritional advice.

Causes of Anorexia

Since body shape and weight are the major concerns in this health condition, these are not the primary cause. However, a list of several factors may play a crucial role. This includes

  • A history of bullying or teasing about weight
  • Past criticism about weight, shape, and eating habits
  • Lower self-esteem
  • Having a personality that tends towards perfectionism
  • Anxiety
  • A sense of pressure from society
  • Historical trauma
  • Dieting
  • Pressure to fit in cultural norms
  • Intense fear of becoming fat or gaining weight

Diagnosis of the Anorexia

The prompt treatment and early diagnosis of the disease increase the chances of having a good outcome. The doctor may ask several questions to get an idea about the eating habits, mental and physical health.

Additionally, they may recommend some tests to rule out other underlying health conditions having similar symptoms and signs.

However, the National Eating Disorders Associations state that the below-mentioned criteria can help better to make the diagnosis.

Significantly lower body weight and energy intake restrictions for overall health, age, and sex.

Changes in the way a person experiences their body shape or weight, a body shape or weight’s disproportionate impact on a person’s self-image.

Recovery and Treatment

A medical doctor will make a comprehensive plan to address a person’s specific requirements. The strategies may include

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help a person discover new ways of thinking, managing stress, and behaving.
  • Nutritional therapy that endows with information on food consumption and maintaining health.
  • Supplements to resolve nutritional deficiencies.
  • Medications to treat anxiety and depression.
  • Hospital treatment in several cases.

Tips to help manage a person with the disease

  • Be kind and respectful instead of being judgemental
  • Consider a treatment team including a therapist, dietician, or a psychiatrist
  • Look into treatment providers to find good matches
  • Ensure to get all the support possible
  • Review the treatment plan and introduce changes to get the best
Anorexia is an eating disorder that can be transformed into a severe medical health condition. It involves restricting the normal food intake that can lead to several nutritional deficiencies.

Bottom Line!

The health conditions’ effects can be life-threatening as well, but medication, counseling, and treatments can help cope with this condition. And early diagnosis can lead to a more positive outcome.

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