What are the symptoms of anorexia nervosa?
The warning signs and symptoms of anorexia nervosa include:
- Low body mass index (<17.5 kg/m2)
- Bodyweight less than 85% of ideal body weight
- Body temperature less than 35°C
- Bradycardia (heartbeat less than 60 beats per minute)
- Hypotension (blood pressure of less than 90/50 mm Hg)
- Dry, scaly skin
- Brittle hair and hair loss
- Fine, soft hair on the body
- Bloating and swelling in the stomach
- Brittle nails
- Pressure sores
- Yellow tinge on the skin
- Cold and pale legs and hands
- Impaired immune system
- Menstrual irregularities
- Difficulties concentrating
- Muscle weakness
Emotional and behavioral signs include:
What is anorexia nervosa?
Anorexia nervosa, commonly known as anorexia, is a psychological disorder in which an individual considers themselves as being overweight or controls the shape and size of a specific body part, even when they are extremely thin. In the more severe form of this disease, one may be petrified of gaining weight or may have a tremendous obsession over the shape of the body to the point that people are sick of eating and may take extreme measures to lose weight.
What causes anorexia nervosa?
The exact cause of anorexia nervosa is unknown; however, some situations make anorexia more common in certain societies or areas. Factors associated with anorexia nervosa include:
Genetic and biological factors:
- Hormonal issues
- Family history of anorexia
- Feelings of inadequacy
- Obsessive-compulsive personality traits
- Trauma, stress, depression, and other psychiatric disorders
- Peer pressure
- Cultural beauty ideals
- Participation in activities such as ballet, gymnastics, modeling, and weight-restricted sports
- History of being teased about their size or weight
- Troubled relationships
- Joining a new school
- Death of a loved one
How is anorexia nervosa diagnosed?
The physician may diagnose if a person has anorexia nervosa by:
- History taking.
- Conducting a complete physical examination to check for any visible signs of anorexia. These include checking vitals such as heart rate and blood pressure and examining the nails, skin, and abdomen.
- Conducting lab tests that include serum electrolytes, blood urea nitrogen, serum creatinine, liver function tests, complete blood count, thyroid-stimulating hormone, serum glucose, liver function tests, and serum albumin.
- Conducting imaging studies such as an X-ray or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
How is anorexia nervosa treated?
Treatment of anorexia nervosa is difficult because people deny the fact that they have a problem. The treatment options of anorexia nervosa include:
- Psychotherapy: Different therapies work for different people. Reducing eating disorder behaviors is the first goal of treatment. Psychotherapy involves cognitive-behavioral therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy.
- Hospitalization: Hospitalization may be required in case of an emergency. Issues such as heart rhythm disturbance, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, or a psychiatric emergency require hospitalization.
- Medication: Certain antidepressant medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors can be effective in controlling anxiety and depression.
- Nutrition counseling: A healthy approach to food and weight is instilled in the patients. It helps to restore normal eating patterns and teaches the importance of nutrition.
- Family support: Family support is of utmost importance. The family should help their loved ones to overcome their fears.
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Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by markedly reduced appetite or total aversion to food. Anorexia is a serious psychological disorder and is a condition that goes well beyond out-of-control dieting. With anorexia, the drive to become thinner is actually secondary to concerns about control and/or fears relating to one's body. There are psychological and behavioral symptoms as well as physical symptoms of anorexia including: depression, social withdrawal, fatigue, food obsession, heart and gastrointestinal complications, kidney function, flaky skin, brittle nails, and tooth loss (this list is not exhaustive).
What's the Difference Between Anorexia and Anorexia Nervosa?The word "anorexia" by itself simply describes the symptom of not being able or willing to eat. This can be caused by mental illness, but also by medical problems and chemotherapy for cancer, as well as infections and other disorders. "Anorexia nervosa" is the term for someone who fits the psychological criteria for a clinical eating disorder, the main symptom of which is self-starvation.
What's the Difference Between Anorexia and Anorexia Nervosa?The difference between anorexia and anorexia nervosa mostly comes down to how the term 'anorexia' is used.
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How Do You Feel When You Have Anorexia?Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that affects millions of people in the U.S. Learn about the signs of anorexia, what the causes are, and how it's treated.
How Do You Know if You Have Body Dysmorphia?Body dysmorphia or body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a type of mental health problem. In this disease, you are always preoccupied with how you look. You have an intense concern about not looking good or having a flawed appearance. This concern often interferes with your everyday tasks.