Anorexia Nervosa

ANOREXIA NERVOSA

Overview

In recent times, eating disorders have become alarmingly common and this trend has generally been attributed to the proliferation of an unhealthy body image as engendered by the media and the arts. Anorexia nervosa, or simply ‘anorexia’, is one of the more widely known eating disorders. Although anorexia is more common among women, it can also afflict men. Childhood onset is also possible.

This illness is characterized by a distorted self-image that leads to the patient taking a variety of measures to lose weight including starvation, induced purging in some cases and engaging in excessive exercise. If allowed to reach extreme levels, anorexia can leave permanent adverse effects on the personality and body. It can even be life-threatening. In fact, eating disorders such as anorexia have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses.

 

What Is Anorexia Nervosa?

ANOREXIA NERVOSA disorderAnorexia nervosa is a kind of mental illness, specifically an eating disorder, wherein an individual develops an unrealistic self-image, seeing themselves as overweight and, hence, constantly striving towards an abnormally low body weight ideal. There is usually an underlying psychological problem responsible for this.

Anorexia nervosa is characterized by low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, an intense psychological aversion to gaining weight and a consequently strong desire to lose weight. An anorexic, even when hungry, will deliberately deny himself or herself food and may exercise aggressively in order to lose weight. Hence, they usually appear underweight and emaciated. Men may undertake punishing exercise regimens in order to achieve a muscular appearance.

Anorexia can also be present along with other psychiatric conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder. More women suffer from anorexia nervosa than do men and adolescents are found to be more vulnerable than adults.

 

What Causes It?

Anorexia can be the outcome of multiple factors at play such as genetics, environment, social pressures and personality traits such as obsessive perfectionism, having a low self-esteem or being prone to anxiety. Cultural norms that value certain body types more highly than others, placing greater emphasis on being thin and underweight are often held responsible for promoting an unrealistic body image. Certain professions such as athletics, modeling or the armed forces tend to espouse specific body image ideals and create strong pressures to conform.

 

What Are The Identifying Symptoms and Behaviours?

ANOREXIA NERVOSAThe most obvious sign of a person suffering from anorexia is that they appear underweight and emaciated. In the absence of adequate nutritional intake, all normal biological processes and functions are impaired. In addition, psychosocial functioning is also impaired.
The physiological and physical symptoms of anorexia are as follows:

  • Rapid loss of weight or frequent fluctuations in weight.
  • Lowered vital signs such as slow heart rate, lowered blood pressure and low body temperature.
  • The appearance of fine white body hair known as lanugo body hair is typical of this condition.
  • Lowered blood circulation produces bluish or purple discoloration on the hands, feet and sometimes the face.
  • Yellowish pigmentation on the skin due to elevated levels of beta-carotene in the blood.
  • Lowered levels of parathyroid hormone, blood sugar, and white blood cells.
  • Dry skin and brittle hair and nails.
  • Shrunken breasts.
  • Loss of muscle mass.
  • Pale and sunken eyes.
  • Swelling of the salivary glands.
  • Peripheral edema.
  • Developing intolerance to certain foods.
  • Constipation.
  • Amenorrhea in women.
  • Decreased libido in men.
  • Thinning hair.
  • Headaches.
  • Fainting or dizziness.
  • Lethargy.
  • Elevated liver function.

The psychological and behavioral signs are as follows:

  • Developing strange and rigid eating rituals.
  • Strong aversion to gaining weight.
  • Constant preoccupation with food, weight and appearance and dissatisfaction with one’s body image.
  • Anxiety at meal times and/or avoidance of eating in the presence of others.
  • Depression.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Difficulty in concentrating and decision-making.
  • Irritability.
  • Social withdrawal.
  • Psychomotor retardation in extreme cases.

 

Are There Different Types of Anorexia Nervosa?

Yes. There are two subtypes:

  • Binge eating/Purging: The individual engages in a cyclical process of binge eating followed by purging and vomiting. Purging is usually induced by means of laxatives, enemas and diuretic substances.
  • Restrictive: This type is characterized by the intentional restriction of food intake rather than bingeing and purging. Patients may develop obsessive rituals related to eating and resort to intense exercising.

 

What Are The Possible Complications?

Nutritional deficiencies resulting from starvation directly affect all organ systems with the result that a variety of severe and critical outcomes are possible. Osteoporosis,  delayed growth, and cerebral atrophy is examples of the kinds of complications that can ensue. Renal, gastrointestinal and reproductive problems can also develop and worsen. Male anorexics can become impotent. Cardiac complications are a common cause of death among anorexics.

The emotional and psychological effects can be just as critical. In fact, according to the National Association for Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 1 in every 5 anorexia-related deaths is attributable to suicide.

 

How Is It Diagnosed?

Those suffering from anorexia are generally unaware of their condition, ashamed, in denial or otherwise reluctant or unable to seek help. Therefore, the initial challenge involved is that of encouraging an anorexic to seek out support and medical help. A preliminary assessment of body mass index (BMI) can help diagnose this condition. A psychiatric evaluation can be carried out through tests such as the SCOFF questionnaire. A medical and psychiatric history is usually relevant. A family history of psychiatric illness and eating disorders, in particular, must also be taken into account.

Since anorexia nervosa is a psychiatric disorder, it does not need to be diagnosed through laboratory tests or imaging. However, bearing in mind the extensive adverse effects that this condition can have on the entire body, a variety of tests must be carried out to assess its physiological impact. Blood and urine tests, tests for metabolic function, the fecal occult blood test to check for intestinal infection or trauma caused by laxative abuse, electrocardiogram etc may be called for depending on the specific symptoms displayed by the patient.

 

Treatment & Prevention

The following methods are used to address and treat this condition systematically.

  • Medicines: The first and foremost step in treating this condition includes minimizing the adverse effects of anorexia on the body. This step includes treating malnutrition, electrolytic imbalance, abnormal heartbeat, digestive issues, and menstrual irregularities (in female patients).
  • Dietary and nutritional: The next logical step is to restore normal eating habits in the patients and gradually increasing their calorie intake. Strategic weight restoration plans, implementation and supervision of customized meals, and awareness about the benefits of proper nutrition are done at this stage.
  • Psychotherapy: This is the most critical part of the treatment as it aims to identify the real psychological reasons driving the patient to unhealthy eating patterns. This is where the past traumatic incidents are discussed and treatment for the same is provided. The patient is taught healthy coping mechanisms.

 

Facts

  • There is a huge social stigma attached to Anorexia being considered as an actual disorder and hence only 1 out of 10 anorexic patients seek treatment for it.
  • Contrary to popular myth, men can suffer from anorexia too. 10% of all anorexia patients are males (a large percentage of men remain under or undiagnosed).

Facts

  • Anorexia is the leading cause of death among females in the age group 15-26. It is 12 times more fatal than any other cause of death such as accidents or chronic illnesses.
  • Anorexia records the highest number of deaths when compared to any other psychiatric disorder.

Facts

  • Every year, there are almost 30 million cases of eating disorders reported globally.
  • More than 50% of girls under the age of 18 use unhealthy dietary practices to lose weight.

Related Conditions

Want to live a healthy lifestyle?

Subscribe to free FactDr newsletters.

REVAMP YOUR

If you're enjoying our website, we promise you'll absolutely love our new posts. Be the first one to get a copy!

Get factually correct, actionable tips delivered straight to your inbox once a week.

I want the latest scoop on :

We hate spam too. We will never share your email address with anyone. If you change your mind later, you can unsubscribe with just one click

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the FactDr Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of FactDr subscriptions at any time.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Include more of family meal time. Studies indicate that those who eat regularly with family tend to show reduced tendency of eating disorders.
  • Be gentle, empathizing, and encouraging to patients of anorexia and help them address this issue properly.
  • Refrain from shaming, bribing, or bargaining anorexic patients into eating food.
Don'ts
  • Ask questions such as “why don’t you eat?” or “why do you keep throwing up?” to patients with anorexia.
  • Fall into the media-fueled hype that every woman needs to be skinny in order to look good and be respected.
  • Assume that every anorexic patient will be skinny or extremely thin.

 

 

 

Related Conditions

Trending Topics

diverticulitis diet
Diverticulitis diet: The right way to eat if you suffer from the disease Are you suffering from diverticultis but clueless about your diet ? Read this complete plan for diverticulitis diet…
nature health benefits
Green Healing: The amazing health benefits of being in nature You have no idea what sitting in a closed room does to your body and mind.Can a stroll…
autoimmune diseases facts
Autoimmune Diseases: Find out if your body is attacking you right now Did you know your body can harm itself? What are autoimmune diseases and why does it harm some…
anal sex
Anal Sex : Tips from expert on how to be kinky yet safe Whether it irks you or stokes your fantasies, anal sex has always been an intriguing sexual act. Learn…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…
understanding addiction
Addiction explained: An obsession that could cost you your life Is addiction a behavioral disorder? Or is it a chronic disease? How does addiction cause chemical and structural…
liver detox facts
7 liver detox facts and why ignoring these could kill you! Are you taking care of this organ that handles over 500 different vital functions in your body? Your…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
dance health benefits
5 unbelievable effects of dance on your overall health! You enjoy dancing, but did you know what else it does to your body? Dancing is not only…
GM Diet: The fastest way to lose weight or yet another hoax diet? General Motors started this trend of extreme dieting for 7 straight days to ensure its employees were able…
Penis pump: Pump your way out of erectile dysfunction One of the options to treat erectile dysfunction is by the use of a penis pump. It is…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
Creatine: Is this the right peak athletic-performance supplement for you? Creatine is the amino acid that boosts our energy. Did you know creatine supplements can help you reach…
Improve sex life
9 best tips from around the world for better sex life How can the pungent-smelling garlic pack in a punch to your libido? How could something as slimy as…
L-arginine: Your search for the ultimate fitness booster ends here L-arginine is an amino acid necessary for the body to perform various functions.  It is essential in producing…
yoga health benefits
How to practice yoga for astounding health benefits Can a 5000-year-old system be the ultimate body healer? Did you know yoga can make you smarter and…
passion fruit juice
Passion fruit: How one exotic fruit can help you fight infections and cancer! Passion fruit: Why does this exotic fruit have such an enticing name? And how can it protect you…
How chlorophyll is more than just a green pigment meant for photosynthesis Cholorphyll - you must know the usual function of this chemical in plants. But did you know that…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling sad? Have you…
eating myths debunked
8 ‘healthy eating’ myths you believed until now Is a zero-carb diet really healthy for you? Are organic products worth their cost? Did you know how…
green tea benefits
Green Tea : Does it really aid weight loss and reverse aging? A centuries-old concoction of fresh green leaves, green tea holds the secret to healthy weight loss & delayed…
Garlic health benefits cloves
Garlic: Nature’s white pill as an effective home remedy What are the secrets hidden in these tiny white pills? Find out the immense health benefits of using…
kefir bottle
Kefir: Top reasons why this probiotic drink should be consumed by you Yet another remarkable fermented food, kefir is a much healthier version of yogurt. These chewy white grains can…
Maltitol: Things you must know about this artificial sweetener Sugar alcohols are produced by fruits and vegetables. Maltitol is an artificially produced sugar alcohol and is used…
tips for perfect sleep
Stop hitting the snooze button: 8 proven steps to perfect sleep Are you tired of not getting enough sleep? All your efforts for a sound sleep going in vain?…
boost immunity tips
Step up your defence: 15 proven tips on how to boost your immunity Want to naturally build up a stronger immunity? Tired of frequent colds and runny nose?You will never believe…
Pumpkin Seeds: Why pumpkins are more than just for pies! Pumpkins have been long associated with Halloween carvings and delicious pies. But did you know that pumpkin seeds…
Milk Thistle skin
Milk Thistle: Find possible cures for fatal diseases in these purple blooms Milk thistle is well-known for treating liver conditions. However, did you know that it comes with a plethora…
Grapeseed Oil: Find out how to use this oil without any side-effects Grapes are known for their delicious fresh taste and the fact that they make wine a healthy drink.…
Melatonin: Fascinating facts on the hormone that brings you the Zzzs Did you know, melatonin - the chemical that puts you to sleep every night is also involved in…
turmeric skin
We bet you didn’t know that turmeric could be this beneficial! Did you know that turmeric, a humble ingredient found in most Indian kitchens could cure countless ailments and…
low fodmap plan
Troubled with IBS? Here’s a complete roadmap to the low FODMAP diet Leaky & inflammatory gut troubling you? No medicine bringing you relief from the pain? Why not try the…
MANUKA HONEY child
Manuka Honey Manuka honey is a specific type of honey produced by honey bees that collect nectar from the flowers…
Hate making breakfast?Fast and healthy breakfast recipes just for you! Tired of snatching a bagel every morning for breakfast during the rush hour? Here are few fast and…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
paleo keto diet
Paleo vs. Keto: Which diet plan is best suited for your body goals? Is eating like a caveman the right way to go? Can you really eat fats to burn fats…
Amaranth: Why is this native Peruvian grain called the “crop of the future”? Full of healthy high proteins and gluten-free, the grain, Amaranth, the tasty and ancient pseudo cereal from Peru,…
MCT oil athletes
MCT Oil : The kind of fats you should be eating MCT oil or Medium Chain Triglycerides is the new buzzword in the fitness industry. What makes this oil…
bananas exercise
10 health reasons why you should go “bananas” over bananas! Bananas:The world's most popular fruit comes with a host of unbelievable health benefits. Find out how you can…
canola oil cooking
Canola oil: How safe is it to consume this popular cooking oil? Extracted from rapeseeds, Canola oil derives its name from Canadian Oil. Did you know that some forms of…
Moringa drink
Moringa: This could be the most nutrient-dense food known to us! Moringa is a lush green tree brimming with over 90 essential nutrients required for a healthy mind and…
black seed oil benefits
Black Seed Oil: What secret benefits could it bestow on your health? Black seeds or nigella seeds are tiny packets of health brimming with amazing benefits. Find out why should…
gout diet purines
Gout Diet : Get relief from painful joints by eating these foods Are you a victim of this painful condition? Are medications providing only short relief? Find a list of…
Fructose: Healthy fruit-product or loaded with toxic calories? Fructose is a sugar derived from fruits and other plant sources. Does this mean that fructose consumption is…
How cooking with CLA safflower oil can help you lose weight? Read and discover more about CLA safflower oil and how it can aid faster fat metabolism in people…
cancer facts
8 hard-hitting truths no one tells you about cancer Did you know that 1.5 million new cases of cancer are reported every year? Can second-hand smoking kill…
lifestyle diseases
The Big 5 lifestyle diseases: How your everyday living might be killing you You'd be shocked to know how unhealthy and potentially fatal your everyday routine could be. Has the modern…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know some of the…
Fluoride: An indispensible mineral or a potential toxin ? Fluoride, the main ingredient of toothpaste, has shown a great potential as a cleanser. However, how much fluoride…
healthy habits
10 healthy habits: Have a hearty kick-start to the New Year! Do you set goals that are too difficult for you to maintain? Are to struggling to follow healthy…
antibiotic resistance
Antibiotic Resistance: How common diseases become deadly Can a cold kill you? How important is to get a flu shot? Why do antibiotics fail against…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity , and much more.…
global warming health
Rising mercury and your health: How Global Warming is damaging your body Don't ignore the rising temperature. Global warming causes more than just heat strokes. It could be a lot…
Isagenix diet
Isagenix Diet: Do you really need liquid meal replacements to lose weight? Isagenix Diet - What are liquid meal replacements and why is the world going ga-ga over them? Are…
castor oil hair
Castor oil : A vitamin-rich oil for shiny locks and healthy bowels Castor oil bestows unlimited benefits, whether you use it for your hair or skin. But did you know…
iron food shellfish
Iron-Rich Foods: Eat these foods to keep fatigue and anemia away! How to ensure a muscles as strong as iron? Eat iron rich foods ! Iron is one of…
Tea Tree Oil : The one stop cure for skin ailments and more… The popularity of tea tree oil, an essential oil, as the ultimate skin care pick is not unheard…
Salt dangers
Sodium chloride: The wonders and dangers of the simple table salt Sodium chloride is a salt containing sodium and chlorine ions at a 1:1 ratio. It is edible and…
Pomegranate: Why are they called ruby red pearls of health? The shrub Punicagranatum yields a red fruit which is what you normally call pomegranate. The fruit is round…
Agave nectar: The bitter truth about this sweetener revealed Agave nectar is considered to be sweeter than the normal table sugar and even contains higher amounts of…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
Anhedonia: Does the chronic inability to feel joy affect you too? How often do you feel dragged down by an invisible force? Do you feel an inexplicable emotional numbness…
Chlorella: Therapeutic powers of the billion-year-old algae now within your reach Chlorella - A billion year old nutrient-rich algae that can potentially ward off cancers and high cholesterol; the…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…